Just Look Up or Die without Trying



If you haven’t watched the newly released Netflix movie Don’t Look Up, you’re in for a treat. Besides its cast full of very famous actors, including Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Timothée Chalamet, Ariana Grande, Chris Evans, Cate Blanchett, and others, it also includes a lot of hilarious and, frankly, conspicuous political satire. 


The movie starts out in a place you don’t expect- An astronomy Ph.D. student named Kate Dibiasky, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is observing supernovas with her school’s giant telescope at night when something unexpected appears on the screen.


After frantically calling in her teacher and classmates, she announces that she’s discovered a large comet. Excited, her teacher, a shy man named Dr. Randall Mindy, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, begins to teach his students how to calculate the trajectory of the comet. That’s when he realizes something absolutely horrible; this comet is speeding directly towards Earth, and it won’t just cause a little explosion when it hits.


The world is going to end in six months and 14 days.


Throughout the movie, Dr. Mindy and Kate make their greatest attempts at warning the world about the danger they’re in, but are often stopped in their tracks for some reason or another. Eventually, both of them will have to face increasingly horrible consequences for being the first ones to discover this tragedy.


Even though the plot is good on it’s own, the movie is most memorable for its huge dose of satire. It’s everywhere, and not just surrounding the main plot. It should also be made clear, though, that the film focuses almost entirely on issues currently being faced by the United States.


Perhaps the most obvious use of satire was the comet, which acted as a metaphor for the climate crisis. It’s well known in our society that there has been very little action against climate change, and that’s exactly what the movie is trying to say. 


The people in the film are more focused on celebrity news and social media trends than the fact that they could all die in less than a year. Obviously, the filmmakers are hinting that we need to stand up and take real action against the climate crisis instead of sitting back and waiting for someone else to handle it for us.


Some people, however, believe that writer and director Adam McKay’s metaphor for climate change was a bad choice for such representation. Kate Cohen from The Washington Post said, “what the climate crisis lacks, what our response lacks, is a massive sense of urgency. By giving us a plot with a thrilling, terrifying countdown — six months to total planetary annihilation — McKay obscures rather than illuminates the issue that’s holding us back.”


A film, with a poorly represented theme or without, would never have made much of an impact on society anyway. It simply won’t reach enough people who care, and it’s not like these messages haven’t been represented in the media before either. However, if the people who took the time to create this masterpiece would have thoroughly analyzed this particular issue, they might have found a more subtle, seemingly non-threatening catastrophe to represent the slow and sneaky process that climate change truly is.


The reason so little action has been taken against climate change, with some people even writing it off as a calculated hoax by scientists and influencers (or something like that), is because most of us have trouble seeing the effects it is already having on our planet. This disaster is already upon us even though some of us don’t realise it, or otherwise don’t pay much mind to it. That’s why I believe the comet analogy was actually quite good, as most citizens reacted the same way we are now- not panicking.


Just as there was evidence of the asteroid long before it would have hit, we have known about climate change for quite some time now, since the early 19th century to be exact. And, just like the comet in the film, we have opportunities to stop this crisis in its tracks before permanent damage can occur. Even though climate change is a gradual process, our world could still become permanently damaged after a few years of too much waiting, and, to me, that seems sudden enough.


Aside from that main metaphor though, I believe that there is much more to this story. One of the characters in the movie prioritizes lust over love, and things begin to go south in his marriage. Another side-plot resembles actions taken by a certain political party from real life, and, well, it’s not too hard to guess what they’re implying with that one. On another side of things, there’s the strange and utterly moronic world of the internet, where horrific truths are dulled down to seem infinitesimal, and things like appearance, popularity, and willingness to conform to societal standards are the only focuses of the public eye.


In the end, it’s impossible to list all of the important themes from Don’t Look Up without giving away the entire plot. However, you can probably guess from the details already provided that this movie is very relevant and necessary to the place where our society stands today. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed watching this film and I highly recommend it to anyone who’s eyes are opened to the faults of our modern society, at least in the US.


There is, however, one more lesson I learned from this movie I would like to include- If you don’t want to be eaten by a Bronteroc, maybe consider not abandoning the rest of the population in search of a new planet.