A scholar challenges Mel Gibson’s use of the ancient Maya culture as a metaphor for his vision of today’s world.
Tracy Ardren in Archaeology:
With great trepidation I went to an advance screening of “Apocalypto” last night in Miami. No one really expects historical dramas to be accurate, so I was not so much concerned with whether or not the film would accurately represent what we know of Classic period Maya history as I was concerned about the message Mel Gibson wanted to convey through the film. After Jared Diamond’s best-selling book Collapse, it has become fashionable to use the so-called Maya collapse as a metaphor for Western society’s environmental and political excesses. Setting aside the fact that the Maya lived for more than a thousand years in a fragile tropical environment before their cities were abandoned, while here in the U.S, we have polluted our urban environments in less than 200, I anticipated a heavy-handed cautionary tale wrapped up in Native American costume.
What I saw was much worse than this.