By Emily MacTaggart
Is it better to live in blissful ignorance? What power do we have as citizens versus State apparatus? Why are ‘they’ a separate entity to the people? And why do we (choose to) ignore those who are trying to save us from (environmental) destruction?
All important questions to ask yourself…
The 2021 film Don’t Look Up starring accomplished actors such as Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio and Meryl Streep takes on a satirical form to openly criticise how leaders, politicians and privatised corporations prioritise their selfish agendas over the safety and nourishment of ordinary citizens and the planet. But the punchline is that this film is merely a mirror of our lived reality, and one which seems to blur the lines between what lies within and beyond the filmic space. It is no bleak dystopian creation, finding its inspiration in currents happening of our modern world.
Dibiasky, on national TV, screams “Are we not being clear? We’re all 100% for sure gonna f*cking die!” after finding a huge comet on a direct course for earth.The PhD student (Jennifer Lawrence) alongside her supervisor Dr Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio), are both met with an apathetic wall of ignorance. Such apathy is apparent in the media (as amongst global leaders), where this reality is clouded with other unimportant social media coverage which seeks to maintain their monopoly over the people, rather than facing the decisive truth. This highlights the film’s metaphor for climate change and global warming, paralleling big corporations’ greenwashing campaigns that cloud the true damage they are causing by exploiting the natural world (Nestle, Coca Cola, Starbucks, IKEA, BP – only to name a handful).
This hopelessness permeates into the entirety of the action which echoes both scientists’ and climate activists’ desperate attempts to catalyse united action through fact, and to fight the feelings of helplessness experienced by those of us who want to save our planet. They are made to believe that they are too small and insignificant to fight those big corporations sucking up what is left of the natural beauty for fuel, and thus profit. In light of recent threats to scrap the fracking ban, yet another blow to the climate crisis, the film’s overall message seems to be reflecting back at us our reality in a very unsubtle and therefore all the more effective allegory for our own inaction despite our acute awareness of the consequences.
Ultimately, this satirical film is a depressing plea to the public, to leaders, to global citizens to recognise our reality, to act with purpose, and to not be entirely engulfed in the continuous wave of disinformation we are fed every day. It is urging us to recognise that although we have political leaders, they should be more than untouchable public figures. They are people with power to bring about change and save our planet. Therefore, while it takes on a metaphorical stance, the film’s sobering images of an uninhabitable planet should motivate us to fight for its survival.
Don't Look Up is available on Netflix for streaming.