In the past twenty-four hours, the isolated village of Bugarach in the French Pyrenees has received a gaggle of more than a hundred journalists. They came in the hope of capturing, if not the apocalypse, at least the dramatic arrival of hordes of doomsday faithful.
Sadly for them, not only did extraterrestrials prove elusive, but so were the Mayan masses. Instead the villagers, who feel that their rural way of life slowly eroded by the diminished profitability of agriculture, took the opportunity to voice some of their troubles.
One told a reporter for Le Figaro, “The real problem is that our world has ended. Our farms are disappearing one after the other and our agriculture is dying.” Another inhabitant brandished a placard manifesting his opposition to a new airport at Nantes, while a third held a banner for ‘attac’ an anti-free market organisation opposed to neo-liberal globalisation.
Others have seen the chance for some high-profile marketing. Local products, T-shirts and viennoiseries have been exhibited in front of the camera. One inhabitant holds a placard advertising an extra-marital dating service for wives. Another, garbed in mink and with a Louis Vuitton swinging from her arm, appeared to endorse the certificates she produces entitled “I am a legend” which can be purchased for a mere €215 a piece.
In Bugarach, the end of the world might have been an anticlimax for some, but for others it was just another chance to get their messages across.