One sure-fire way to test the legitimacy of the 2012 predictions stuff you might be reading is to look at the language the author uses to describe these folks who supposedly predicted the end of the world on Dec 21, 2012. The scholarly world refer to the ancient and contemporary people of Mesoamerica who, starting around 4,000 years ago, created a magnificent and complex civilization that continues to this day. The proper term for these people, at least in scholarly language, is “Maya” (the contemporary Maya have other terms for who they are, but that is another part of the story). The word is not “Mayan.” If your newspaper or magazine article or blog or tweet says, “Mayan” that person has not done their homework. Even Wikipedia gets the “Maya” and “Mayan” distinction correct (having been corrected many times by knowledgable editors over the years). It’s Maya, both singular and plural; the term Mayan refers to the languages spoken by these people and may also refer to scholars who study them, the Mayanists. By the way, if linguistics isn’t your thing, use this other test: if they talk about the Lost Continent of Atlantis or ancient astronauts and extraterrestrials, run for the hills!

Every bogus prediction uses the term Mayan. It is like some uncontrollable tic, which is kind of nice because it is like a red flag going up for you, dear reader. But there is another problem that is beginning to surface, which is that acknowledging the existence of real Maya people doesn’t matter. Recently I had a discussion with some fellow members of my 3D modeling community at the DAZ 3D site (here is the link but you may have to be a member of the community to see it: Calendar Stone discussion). The question was whether the model offered for sale, called Mayan 2012, should have been based on an Aztec calendar stone instead of something specifically Maya.

Although I had no dispute with the quality of the model (and actually purchased it), and the description of it by the designer is appropriately vague, it is another example of mashing up all things south of the border and remote in time. That this is not a Maya image he is using, but an Aztec one, is what I pointed out. The reaction and conversation should tell us, anthropologists, just how we have failed to help educate the world about the wonders of diverse cultures. The discussants basically dismissed the need to distinguish the Maya and the Aztec, arguing they are the same or that ethnicity or cultural identity or historical accuracy is not important.

People are used to make labels on everything and everything is based on theories . Yesterday they called them Aztecs today they are Mexican and tomorrow God know what else ..

 

I always understood that he Aztec calendar was based on the Mayan Calendar anyway.Who cares? I bought it and I love it.I’m sure anyone who needed a genuine Mayan calendar would know straight away what this was because it’s far more famous visually than a Mayan calendar.

And it is often used as a symbol for the Mayan Calendar.

 

 

Ethnicity really does not matter.

 

This next one especially disturbs me because she was an anthropology major!

Don’t worry about mixing up Aztec and Maya. It happens all the time and we are all fair game to human error. I’m a former history/anthropology major and this little mix up didn’t upset me in the least. You got the right general area and era so I give you props for that. Smile

Check out the work of the Penn Cultural Heritage Center for a sense of why acknowledging heritage and identity is an important act. I will be starting a pop culture blog on heritage to tie this in to examples like this one here.

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A friend just sent me a link to an amazing LEGO site and it reminded me of the silly attempt by some anonymous staffer at the Penn Museum to ridicule my interest in LEGOs. The link was to a full world creation of Middle Earth from the Lord of the Rings movies and books. Now I must confess that I know more about Lord of the Rings from the superb WMS slot machine created recently with that theme than I do from the books and movies but I can appreciate the effort to recreate an entire world with LEGOs or any other medium (my theory of film is very much related to this concept). The work was collaborative, international, showed the value of community, expressed an entire comprehensive culture, was expertly done, cared about its audience, excited viewers, showed care and creativity, was both individual and communal, was family friendly and great for adults too, and just makes you smile with wonder. When was the last time you saw anything at a traditional museum that did the same for you?

Photo by Leda Kat

An overview of the 2011 Brickworld collaborative project

TRUE LIES: DO WE REALLY WANT OUR ICONS TO COME TO LIFE?

A comic book version of Arnold’s iconic status, originally presented at the “Holy Men in Tights: A Superheroes Conference”, University of Melbourne, Australia in 2005 and published in their journal, Refractory. It is not longer functioning there so here is a version of it.

Just when I thought it was safe to start doing a Terminator on my Arnold Schwarzenegger archives now that the End of Days is near, Arnold comes back into the news with a True Lies bombshell that takes an Eraser to all doubts that the Last Action Hero will ever be terminated in our collective eye. Arnold has had sudden Total Recall, just remembering he forgot to mention theJunior Arnold who pitter-pattered around the household for ten year: at least it wasn’t Twins! Since ending his Governator role (but revising it soon in a cartoon and comic book), Arnold has become The Running Man, showing up Around the World in 80 Days to sell himself once again in his classic Stay Hungry mode. Whatever Red Heat he gets from this latest Raw Deal probably won’t have much of an impact on Arnold’s movie deals and he will probably still Jingle All The Way to the bank. The Collateral Damage on us, the folks who elevated him to iconic status, is minor because this Predator behavior has become so commonplace it barely warrants aCommando response: the Twitter feeds about this are more funny than outraged.

On The 6th Day in the story of Genesis, God created the wild beasts and told them to be fruitful and multiply. Just saying…Perhaps the Kindergarten Cop just needed to keep the franchise going. So The Long Goodbye is here for us all. No longer a Hercules in New York or any other civilized place, the Arnold-icon may be finally permanently tarnished and even the muscle of Conan the Barbarian or a Red Sonja could not clean it.

I’ve co-authored (with Michael Blitz) two books about Arnold Schwarzenegger (Why Arnold Matter: The Rise of a Cultural Icon  and  Arnold Schwarzenegger: A Biography) and through all the research and writing for those books (and the hundreds of actual dreams about Arnold that accompanied the work) I’ve seen Arnold as a character who defies all explanation and who resists all rules. In the very first dream in our collection (20 years ago), Michael Blitz dreamed that, “Arnold Schwarzenegger comes to my door and says ‘I hear you are doing a book about me.’ He then tells me that Maria Shriver thought that she could find out about him by peeling away his layers like an onion. But he says that the only way anyone will find out about him is by breaking him into little pieces.” Whether Maria peeled that onion or someone has broken him into little pieces is what we may find out next.

For a comic book version of Arnold’s iconic roles, check this issue of REFRACTORY, an Australian media journal.

Our model of Professor Sprout’s “Greenhouse 3” has been chosen as one of the semi-finalists for the LEGO Harry Potter Building Challenge! If you would like to vote for us, go to this website and choose “Greenhouse 3.” You will be asked to register so that you can’t vote more than once. Help support LEGO activities by kids and adults and defeat the naysayers who claim LEGOs are silly!

You can see a comic book that shows the entire model and tells a story about Professor Sprout HERE!

OUR MODEL: “Greenhouse 3”

Did I forget to mention that I published a biography of Walt Disney this summer? Here is the description of it from Greenwood Press which published this series of biographies for young adults:

Description:Walt Disney has been dissected, criticized, and lauded in numerous biographies, most of which try to penetrate the psychology of the man and his motives. Walt Disney: A Biography takes a cultural approach, looking at Disney as both a product of his culture and a cultural innovator who influenced entertainment, education, leisure, and even history.

Drawing on many original sources, Walt Disney provides an overview of this genius’s remarkable life and family. At the same time, the book places Disney in the context of his times as a way of exploring the roots of and inspiration for his creativity. Because Walt Disney’s creations and ideas still affect our movies, play activities, vacation choices, and even our dreams and imagination, his influence is as important today as it was when he was alive, and this thoroughly engaging book shows why.
Title Features:
• Walt Disney’s prolific life is summarized in a descriptive chronology that notes his most significant artistic, personal, and cultural milestones
• An appendix explores the use of the name “Walt Disney” to denote excellence and innovation, but also mass culture and artificiality. Examples are documented with Internet addresses so readers can explore the phenomenon for themselves
• Original-source research assures the accuracy of quotations and descriptions of Disney’s productions

You can find it at Amazon.com: Disney Biography

 

My research student Leanne is attending the Twilight Convention in New Jersey this weekend. She writes amazing blogs about her observations and shows how undergrads can do quality research. Check it out at: http://twianthro.wordpress.com/