“Don’t Look Up”, a movie written, produced and directed by Adam McKay generates some controversy to confirm the moviemaker’s knacks for producing movies that stir the hornet’s nest
It is not often that a movie instantly has the viewing public sharply divided with a side praising it for its insightful and glaring depiction of issues in the society and the other feeling so offended and calling it a pile of ‘bull shits.
That is what “Don’t Look Up”, written, produced and directed by moviemaker, Adam McKay has managed to generate since its release.
The movie, which is a story about two astronomers Dr Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his grad student Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), who discovered a massive comet on its way to destroy the planet and tried to warn the world about it, is a satire on climate change, and the current response of the global population to such impending calamity.
But then there is more than one message hidden in this great film – other issues bordering on the divisive lines in the American society, the post-truth era and the effect of social media on the distribution of news and politics.
Don’t Look Up” had quite a bit to say about the American bipartisan political system. People have been known to take their political leanings as seriously as they take their religion, and so, are likely to believe whatever their elected leaders proclaim. The nature of American politics was made clearer during the administration of President Donald Trump, whom everyone but his followers seems to think is the worst president to ever seat in the Oval Office.
“In the movie”, for the sake of a possible profit that cooperation could make from this incoming comet, the residing president, Janie Orlean played by Meryl Streep, chose to lie about the actual impact this comet will have if it collided with the planet. And like sheep, the members of her political party went along blindly, ignoring the warnings of the scientist. Soon enough, the story went from; “It’s a near miss hysteria” to “There is no comet”.
This part of the story was crafted to depict Donald Trump’s reaction and response to global warming and how he eventually pulled out from the Spanish Accord, stating that global warming is a hoax.
Also, his response to the current Covid-19 pandemic has claimed so many lives. Many believe that if he had not taken so long to act upon the warnings he received from scientists, the effect of the pandemic could have been greatly mitigated.
Social Media and News media
Before the Internet became such a huge part of our daily lives, we were at lesser risks of being hijacked by false narratives and misinformation. But if you have witnessed any recent political contest in any part of the world, you know it is impossible to deny the effect of the Internet and social media used as instruments of manipulation.
The message in ‘Don’t Look Up’ is to take the dive to expose the tactics of politicians when using social media to their benefit.
The news media were not left out of the issue on this one. We live in a time when political correctness is of topmost importance when reporting anything in the news. Different news media have their style of delivering a message just so they get to keep their audience and make sure no one is offended. While some are known for harsh exaggerations, others are known to make light of every situation, no matter how severe.
Dr Randal and Kate showed up at a TV program, “The Daily Rip”, in an attempt to go against the president’s unresponsive decision to “sit tight and access”, to warn the world population.
The result was the opposite of what they hoped for, Jack Brem (Tyler Perry) and Brie Evantee (Kate Blanchett) who were the hosts on the show, were experts at downplaying any situation and they made a scary message seem like an elaborate joke, which led to a massive dismissal of the scientists’ warning.
Celebrities and the Post-truth era
We live in a moment in time when there are different versions of the truth, and so many public figures stand in for leadership and authority without the needed qualification.
We live in the era when celebrities and social media influencers are seen as authorities on many subject matters that they have no expertise on. We see actors, musicians, athletes and Instagram celebrities get more attention than doctors and scientists on subjects relating to health and fitness.
Politicians will exploit any advantage they can get over their opponents, and so celebrities are a sure go-to for them. “Don’t Look Up”, didn’t fail to explore the negative effects of this phenomenon in our society. It even pushed the narrative to what be called it’s extreme, which is the use of celebrities to pass misinformation which could cause people to completely ignore an impending doom and then question the knowledge of trained professionals.
The opposite end of this spectrum was also explored; as we saw the scientists employ the help of celebrity musicians to warn the populace.
“Don’t Look Up” is a satire, designed to make you laugh while at the same time seeing the dangers of human stupidity and negligence of serious issues like climate change and global pandemic.
In the movie we saw two distinct sides, one saying look up and the other saying, don’t lookup. Without much spoilers, “Don’t Look Up” is a must-see for any lover of satire.