“Don’t Look Up” Explained

By: Ally Hudson

With the recent release of Adam Mckay’s new film, “Don’t Look Up”, many people are talking about the underlying meaning behind it and how similar it is to our lives right now. The film stars Leonardo DeCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as Mindy and Kate, two low-level astronauts. They discover a comet that is heading straight for Earth, and they recognize the importance of this comet and decide to tell the White House. You would think this is the right move considering the White House has a lot of power, but this is not the case. President Orlean, played by Meryl Streep, downplays the danger regarding the comet because she’s dealing with her own affairs. She only turns on and listens to the news when her life turns into a scandal. Instead of implementing a safe and effective way to throw the comet off track, her idea is to drill it for resources. It supposedly contains trillions of dollars worth of resources that would benefit the elite class, which she is a member of. The idea is solely based on the benefits and not what the outcome can be. This ultimately impacts the whole world even though it was only one person’s reckless decision.

Many of the people are in disbelief as to what’s happening. They don’t want to think of the result and what it means for humanity. Mindy and Kate have a few opportunities to share and spread the word about the comet. Many people aren’t taking it seriously and brushing it off. Orlean starts a campaign called “Don’t Look Up.” It’s telling other Americans to pretend the comet doesn’t exist. This is closely related to how there are some campaigns that promote how climate change isn’t real and that the vaccine doesn’t work. The irony of the comet being turned into a campaign is revealed when Kate visits her parents only for them to be pro-comet. They want President Orleans to drill the comet for resources and job opportunities despite the risk. This is intentionally an allegory for people who believe mining for coal, offshore drilling, and oil pipelines creates jobs that raise all boats. Even with job creation projects, there is still income inequality. Some individuals might say, people who support policies that harm the Earth are digging their world’s own grave.

On the day the comet is headed for Earth they launch a drill that will split the comet into a more manageable size. The idea was to retrieve the small pieces from the ocean and use it. When this plan goes sideways there is nothing else to do to stop it. This outcome is the result of taking the complex way out instead of staying simple. We are facing the same challenges in our modern world with what to do about climate change and the pandemic. It’s unfair to leave future generations to deal with the consequences of our actions. The film Don’t Look Up asks us to think about what it takes to work together. Will we take action or let our own egos destroy the planet? We may have the intelligence, means, and technology to do so, but it’s our instincts that get in the way.

One thought on ““Don’t Look Up” Explained

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  1. Yes, I was watching an interview with the director and some of the cast members and they were saying that the film is DIRECTLY related to climate change. It is our most pressing and urgent issue right now. We are in crisis! We are slowly destroying our world, but no one cares about it because it seems like too big of an issue to solve, everyone just looks the other way because they are afraid. The writer of the film said that the idea came when he and a friend were discussing the film and his friend said that our current crisis and people’s attitudes towards it was like if there was a comet headed towards Earth that was definitely going to hit us, no one would care and we’d just keep looking the other way and living life as it was until the comet finally struck. But it would be too late to turn back…
    He actually wrote this film before COVID-19 began! They had to finish filming during the first few months of the pandemic when no vaccine was even in existence and before most of the scientific backlash. So, it was a mere coincidence that the film also related to that. The whole scientific backlash in the film was directly related to how many people are refusing to believe in the deadly effects of climate change because they are too afraid. We need to stop being afraid, because fear won’t solve our problems. We need to stand up for our lives, for future generations, for the environment, and for the entire planet. We are in the 6th mass extinction with around 200 species going extinct EVERY DAY. What happens when there is nothing left? There is no time to wait!
    I strongly advise anyone reading this comment to go out and do your own research on climate change, start learning about what it is, how it is caused, different ways of navigating the problem, and how you can help. Every small action can make a huge difference in the long run.
    I will admit that I originally did want to look away because of how much stress and fear is associated with this issue, but I realized that what good is that? I don’t want to look back years from now and say that I didn’t try to make a difference when I knew the consequences of looking away. I have just started to do research only about two weeks ago and I am just beginning. I have learned so much and I can attest to the fact that just by learning, I feel like I am doing at least a little bit of something to help the planet, our future, and our home, because it is allowing me to spread the word in a more communicative and accurate way, start to make changes to my own life and encourage others to do the same, and it makes the situation just a little less daunting each time I do research and see that there are situations to our problems, IF WE ACT NOW. Not if we wait. If we wait, then it will be too late… But, if you do the research, you will see that there are some seemingly simple solutions to our problems; we just need everyone on board and we need to have a global mindset heading into this issue.
    So, that is just a little more backstory behind “Don’t Look Up.”
    Thank you for your insight in sharing your article. It was very thorough on the backstory and I enjoyed reading it. I am glad you chose to dive into the film, because a lot of people haven’t seen it because of some of the negative reviews it has gotten, but truly, everyone needs to see this film.

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