Don’t Look Up serves as an exceptional satire for the corrupt state of our society

Netflix’s latest film portrays the consequences of ignoring an existential crisis until it’s too late


photo courtesy of Netflix

On Dec. 24, Netflix released its record-breaking film “Don’t Look Up” to audiences across the world.

Quinn Burton, Staff Reporter

Breaking Netflix’s record for most streams on a single film in under a week is Adam McKay’s film, “Don’t Look Up, having more than 152 million hours streamed. With only six days before the new year, I didn’t expect much left to come from the movie industry in 2021, but I was surely surprised by Netflix’s last-minute release. 

What initially grabbed my attention was the star-studded cast of actors and actresses in the film. Knowing the previous performances of Oscar winners Leonardo DiCaprio and Meryl Streep and Grammy winner Ariana Grande, I knew this movie would be monumental. 

The plot of the film is centered around two low-level astronomers, Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) who must go on an extensive media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth in less than six months. Compared to other apocalyptic films, this plot is realistically what I was able to envision happening in our near future. 

Throughout the two-hour and 35-minute film, there are numerous subtle nods relating to the current state of our society.  McKay crams all his grievances concerning what is wrong with our present world into the plot without leaving it with any ambiguity. From social media to politicians to tech billionaires, this film reveals the explosive truths about the world that we live in. 

Along the astronomers’ journey, we meet President Janie Orlean ( Streep), the first female President of the United States. Streep’s acting is impeccable as her character is descending directly from ‘Saturday Night Live’ whose eccentric personality and political allusions have the qualities of today’s delusional politicians. With the help of Orlean, the astronomers attempt to create a probable solution to this doomsday disaster. However, Orlean goes behind their backs alongside tech billionaire, Peter Isherwell (Mark Rylance), to benefit their wealth and power. After discovering that the comet holds precious minerals, Isherwell creates a new, more dangerous plan with significant room for error that would allow him to gain possession of the trillion-dollar minerals. The new plan presented by Isherwell is a representation of billionaires’ corrupt usage of capitalism and profit. Isherwell’s character directly corresponds to the disgustingly rich billionaires in America, such as Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. 

Not only is the representation of corrupt politicians shown throughout the film, but also celebrities.  Riley Bina (Grande), a singer in the movie, portrays the world’s fixation on unimportant celebrity news rather than real-world problems. This fixation is represented when Bina goes on live television the same day as the scientists, who are warning about the comet. However, her news about a breakup takes up the majority of air time and the viewers’ attention. This example of insignificant news is yet another way McKay uses his comedic writing and situations to shine a light on important issues. 

For years, scientists and climate activists have urged us to take immediate action against climate change, but many think we have enough time. However, this movie shows that if we don’t act immediately, we’ll run out of time, and no matter how hard we try, climate change is irreversible. The important real-world problems shown throughout this movie were what I was desperately waiting to see represented in the film industry. “Don’t Look Up” exceeded my expectations and brought acknowledgment to troubling issues in today’s society. 

To further relate to the current state of humanity, the film proclaimed the politicization that has occurred because of climate change. In the film, society has divided itself into two groups: those who said “look up” and those who declared “don’t look up,” hence the title of the movie. 

Although the movie brought up ideas on both climate change and politics, the story’s central theme is that of shining a comedic light on the tragic aspects of our society. As a whole, the film served as a direct message to its viewers saying that if you “don’t look up” then nothing will be left of our society.