‘Don’t Look Up’ – satire or a warning? the breakdown we all need – Rosy F
Although it is a new movie, ‘Don’t Look Up’ has already got lots of people talking about it. The film has gathered a lot of attention, not just for the star studded cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Timothee Chalamet and Jonah Hill (just to name a few), but also for the realistic message within it. In this article I am going to run through the real life influences this movie uses whilst explaining the main plot.
If you have not seen the film already, here is your spoiler alert!
The Plot: The movie starts with scientists Dr Randall Mindy, played by DiCaprio, and Kate Dibiasky, played by Jennifer Lawrence, discovering a comet that is headed for earth, with a collision date of in 6 months. They alert President Orlean, Meryl Streep, but are quickly dismissed, in fear it may effect the presidents election campaign. Even when they go to the media, the threat is again dismissed and Kate is turned into a ‘meme’ when giving an honest warning to the public.
When Orlean’s campaign is stuck by a scandal, she then chooses to publicly confirm the threat of the comet as well as coming up with a plan to stop it. Dr Mindy and Dibiasky are directly involved in the mission to destroy the comet, and everything goes to plan. However, just after they have launch the mission, it is abandoned by Orlean when the billionaire Peter Isherwell, one of her top campaign donors, reveals another plan. It is apparent that in the comet, there is trillions of dollars of rare elements that the White House agrees to exploit. Therefore, instead of destroying the imminent threat, they will let it hit earth in a controlled way to utilise these resources.
As this new plan is being weaponised, Dr Mindy publicly calls out the White House for ignoring the scientists, as multiple scientific advisors were fired by Isherwell for speaking out against the safety of the plan. This also leads Dr Mindy to be fired and he reconnects to Kate, with whom he organises a social media campaign called ‘Just look up’. This urged the public and other countries to conduct their own space missions to intercept the comet, to which India, Russia and China take on the challenge. However, when their attempt fails, the hope of humanity lies on the shoulders of the American mission.
Inevitably, when the American mission also fails, humanity is wiped out in a heart wrenching scene. Although, President Orlean, Isherwell and other White House supporters escape on a space jet to another planet, but thanks to karma, they are eaten by aliens.
The Breakdown: The screenwriters of ‘Don’t Look Up’ structured this movie to ‘satirise the forces that fail to respond to a preventable crisis’, pointing the fingers at the selfish political and corporate interests. The real life preventable crisis the movie focuses on is climate change, as institutions continue to dismiss the proven science.
The way that President Orlean changes her view on the comet just to boost her re-election campaign, replicates the attitudes of politicians when it comes to voting on environmental bills. These people do not actually care for the state of the planet in the future and are therefore portraying this message onto citizens, that climate change is not that big of an issue. This is like when Trump consistently stated that global warming wasn’t real, and therefore was not taking any action to protect the world against it.
The film also point out the narcissistic mind sets of businesses, who refuse to change their protocol to help the environment, like how Isherwell did not destroy the comet when he could in order to commercialise the ores that the comet was potentially carrying. This reflects enormous companies like Amazon, or fast fashion brands, who contribute to global warming with unnecessary carbon emissions, just to keep making profit.
Most importantly, the movie encourages people to take action against climate change, and to challenge the opinions of governments, through social media campaigns, for example. It points out the seriousness of our situation, also accidentally causing existential crises, and shows how we, ordinary people, can not just sit back and let it happen.
Whether you hated or loved ‘Don’t Look Up’, I hope you felt inspired to be your own Greta Thunberg and campaign for change. Even though most of the emphasis should be on the corporate companies and governments, here is a site that shows you how to be more eco friendly.