“Don’t Look Up” Is a Climate Denial Satire and Now the Top Film on Netflix

by | Dec 27, 2021 | Climate & Environment

Photo: Netflix

“Don’t Look Up” Is a Climate Denial Satire and Now the Top Film on Netflix

by | Dec 27, 2021 | Climate & Environment

Photo: Netflix
In a close parallel to current state of climate denial, Don't Look Up's scientists, played by Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio, discover that few people can be bothered to care, let alone act, in the face of impending annihilation.

The new feature film “Don’t Look Up,” a dark comedy satirizing the complacency and mendacity of elites in the face of an existential threat to human civilization, is now the most popular movie on Netflix worldwide, according to data compiled by FlixPatrol.

“Absolutely love to see a climate movie hitting this huge a global audience on the world’s largest platform,” journalist David Sirota, who co-created the story for the film, tweeted Monday. “An amazing success for the team that made the movie and for everyone who has been spreading the word.”

An allegory of the human-caused climate emergency and other civilizational dangers, “Don’t Look Up” follows two low-level astronomers as they attempt to alert political leaders and the rest of the world to a massive comet barreling toward Earth.

The film’s scientists, played by Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio, soon discover that few can be bothered to care, let alone act, in the face of impending annihilation.

“This is the worst news in the history of humanity, and they just blew us off,” Dr. Randall Mindy, DiCaprio’s character, says following a meeting at the White House.

As the movie’s political leaders dither, Peter Isherwell—a mega-rich Silicon Valley tech guru played by Mark Rylance—discovers that the apocalyptic comet contains more than $30 trillion worth of precious metals needed to manufacture electronic goods. Buoyed by that revelation, the federal government proceeds to partner with Isherwell on a plan to break the comet into pieces and mine its contents.

“This might all sound far-fetched—the stuff of comedy whimsy—were it not for the fact that Isherwell is clearly a sendup of real-world tech billionaires like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos who are very much convinced that saving the human species from extinction might be extraordinarily lucrative,” Tyler Austin Harper, assistant professor of environmental studies at Bates College, wrote in his review of the film for Slate.

Watch the trailer:

 

Adam McKay, the film’s director, told Space.com in a recent interview that the plot of “Don’t Look Up” is “a Clark Kent-level disguise for the climate crisis.”

“We’re not trying that hard with disguising it,” he said. “You hear the news not mention [the climate emergency] and then they go right to a commercial for a gas-driven car or an oil company. It’s conflict of interest, it’s careerism. It’s a lot of people who are financially insecure. And it takes a lot of guts to raise your hand at that newspaper meeting and go, ‘Why don’t we have a giant headline that says, ‘Oh, my God, we’re all going to die!'”

But as The Intercept‘s Jon Schwarz wrote in his review of the movie, “The good news, if there is any, is that when the lights come up at the end, you’ll realize that in reality we’re only half an hour into this story.”

“We can still save ourselves if we want to,” he added. “And part of that will have to be much more human creativity like this, in service of understanding the horrifying destination toward which we’re heading.”

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1 Comment

  1. Susan Rice

    satire husband and I watched it and certainly a satire and one has to be brain dead not to realize it is what is happening now.
    Oil companies and billionaires who buy our governmental representatives control our government. This is thanks to the un-Supreme Court, who gave permission for Citizens United so the rich can give loads of money and make our representatives.

    Reply

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