The ancient Maya temples rising out of the mists and the rainforests of Central America have long intrigued many. Recently, popular culture and media have used this curiosity as a product to generate income. Movies, such as 2012 (2009), and music videos, such as Jay Sean’s 2012 (It Ain’t The End), both signify how the concept of the Maya “apocalypse” on the 21st of December 2012 has become embedded in popular thought and understanding. However, within scholarship, this 2012 date is not one of ending, but of beginning. The great Maya calendar is a series of great cycles, and in December 2012 one of these will simply reset, and begin anew, rather than signify the end of the world in fiery destruction. As such, this paper aims to explore how and why the ancient Maya culture has been employed in films and music videos as a source of entertainment, with specific reference to the phenomenon of 2012. This research stems from the recent Maya Meetings conference on 2012, where scholars, particularly Dr. Reese-Taylor, called for experts to verse themselves on popular interpretations of the Maya, rather than dismiss them as inaccurate. Sociologically, the interest in the Maya by the media needs deeper understanding, and this paper stands as one of the first studies of this nature. By exploring music videos and films, and their interpretations of the 2012 event, I will explore how the producers have imposed their own cultural expectations on the Maya, in order to access the ancient peoples to successfully present them to a wider audience.

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