Column: ‘Don’t Look Up’ parallels to climate crisis


By Sophia Fernandez, RT reporter

Don’t look up is the guide to climate change for the easily distracted. 

The movie begins with rookie space scientist Kate Dubinsky, played by Jennifer Lawrence, stumbling upon a peculiar pattern in space that is undoubtedly a comet. What is originally celebrated by the team of scientists is turned into monumental dread when Randall Mindy, played by Leonardo DiCaprio reveals that the comet is headed directly towards the earth and is so large that it will destroy the earth, and kill all of its inhabitants in the process. High jinx ensue as the pair deliver the data to world leaders in order to avoid such devastation and are, to their own and the viewers’ surprise, not taken seriously. The President of the United States, played by Meryl Streep is reluctant to take action due to the amount of money that it would cost, as well as her upcoming election, fearing that the news may unsettle her loyal voters. Following in her footsteps, ‘Don’t Look Up’ portrays an array of arrogance with Jonah Hill as her spoiled son and political companion, and Tyler Perry and Cate Blanchett play two figures in the media who use the comet as a story to produce commentary and entertainment rather than educating the people on the anarchy of the political leaders handling of the comet. Eventually, the world leaders see how diverging the comet from earth’s path would benefit their campaign and views so they reluctantly decide to cooperate with the scientists. Before the conflict can be resolved Peter Isherwell, a tech genius and cultural icon in this world devises a plan to make a profit from the material resource that is inside of the comet. World leaders go on to convince an easily fooled demographic that if they don’t look up, they are defying the will of the other side of the political spectrum that has accepted that the comet is going to hit earth. 

In the end, the comet hits earth and the only escapees are the President and a slim ration of her consultants including Peter Ishwell the tech genius. All other living things have ceased to exist past the hit of the comet and destruction of earth, exactly as the scientists had explained. ‘Don’t Look Up’ has created a new genre of allegory that should be a staple cautionary tale to all of earth’s youngest inhabitants. The cast is full of forward-thinking cultural icons who will draw in a crowd when put together in a film, especially a Netflix original as it is expected for names like Streep and DiCaprio to land roles in major feature films. DiCaprio’s presence in the film alone could have led viewers to believe that the story was hinting at climate issues based on his established reputation on all things saving the earth. In 1998 he started the DiCaprio Foundation “Now re:wild” in hopes to protect endangered species who are losing habitats and thinning in resources due to climate change. Additionally, he produced short films ‘Water Planet’ and ‘Global Warming’. Similar to the connection between DiCaprio and Climate concerns, Lawrence’s character Katie lashes out on live television after being told to “keep it light” in regards to discussing the comet on air alongside Blanchett as Brie Evantee, and Perry as Jack Bremmer. She is reprimanded by law and outlasted by the public. Being a woman and expressing her concern as any human being authentically would in this situation, she is deemed as mentally unfit to give a valid and respected message. Her performance parallels the real-life events in which climate change connoisseur Gretta Thunberg was told to “Chill out” by former president Donald J. Trump. The film even goes as far as to make a mockery of his supporters, coining the phrase “Don’t Look Up” in correlation to real-world people either choosing to ignore or simply being too ignorant to see the devastating effects of climate change. Although ‘Don’t Look Up’ creates a feeling of political bias at some points, the message cannot be lost in stubborn inhibitions. Climate change has no political party and will only be resolved when we can all put aside our worldly concerns, and watch every Meryl Streep movie together in peace.