RHardly one movie has been as divisive as Adam McKay’s climate satire Don’t Look Up. Though it’s been watched by millions and is already Netflix’s third-most-watched movie, the response from critics was largely negative. Many found his story of scientists discovering an asteroid heading for Earth as a clumsy allegory for the climate crisis, while others simply found it boring. But many in the climate movement have praised the film, and audience reviews have been generally positive.
We asked four climate experts for their opinion on the film. Warning: spoilers ahead.
Ketan Joshi: ‘The main character of the climate crisis is absent’
The crudest thing about Don’t Look Up is the sheer depth of emotional meaning it has for people who have been in the trenches of the climate fight for a long time. They have encountered decades of insanity, as their warnings were misrepresented, ignored, denied, and downplayed by devious politicians, media, and industry players. These people feel an intense catharsis when they watch this movie. It’s not a great movie, but to release that painful pressure valve, it doesn’t have to be.
Regardless, we have to engage with the deepest flaws in this movie. Is a massive hit, widely seen around the world. It matters then that when trying to show a mirror of humanity’s response to the climate crisis, it has strange priorities.
Strangely absent from the film is a stark analog of the fossil fuel industry (Rylance’s tech disaster capitalist wants to exploit the comet’s mineral wealth, but isn’t piloting the asteroid for profit). Considering that the movie is touted as holding a “devastating mirror”, The absence of the protagonist of the climate crisis is unforgivable. Similarly, the toxicity of the fossil industry impact on both sides of politics would have been a richer, more fun and thoughtful approach. Trump’s satire fails.
The vacuum left by the fossil industry is full of strange choices. Misreporting by the media is mainly attributed to the silliness of morning shows, but in reality, journalism is more deadly failures about the weather boil down to a false balance (presented only briefly), or energized misinformation (there’s no News Corp analog here, stranger considering the role of McKay’s EP in the hilarious Murdoch-inspired Succession).
The movie wastes hours mulling over celebrity culture, algorithms, memes, and data privacy. But the real villains of the climate crisis are not citizens distracted by Ariana Grande and Twitter. They are the decision makers in the fossil fuel industry, their lobbyists, their marketing firms, and their widely publicized political advocacy team. I hope that the next time this opportunity arises, Hollywood will target the people who pilot the asteroid, and I hope they will make an effort to make sure they hit those goals.
Fiona Harvey: ‘The role of the techno-madman, played by Mark Rylance, struck a chord’
Writing about the end of the world is often a thankless task, which is why the perspective of Don’t Look Up appealed immediately. Considered a satirical comedy, what satire could even come close to the experience of the world’s largest climate conference, Cop26 in Glasgow, where the main achievement of nearly 200 governments and 30,000 delegates after two weeks of heartbreaking talks and stark warnings scientific was a resolution. come back next year and try a little harder?
After 17 years of reporting on the climate crisis, at first I doubted the film had much to tell me about the frustrations of communicating a hypothetical catastrophe. When the film’s scientists first struggled to dress their data in sober, measured terms, then erupted into oaths and arm-waving cries about an impending, verifiable apocalypse, I nodded. Yes, that’s what it feels like, and no, no one listens, not until it’s too late.
However, it was enlightening in unexpected ways; something I’ve always struggled with is how rational people may not understand the scale of climate collapse, how we can leave it so late. As the movie shows, it’s partly because vested interests keep it that way, but it’s also just because we’re human. Believing in disaster before it happens is fundamentally not our way of working.
The role of the techno-madman, played by Mark Rylance, struck another chord. Cop26 was not a failureAlthough on the surface that was the obvious conclusion, it was more nuanced than that. Shortly after the Cop26 circus left Glasgow, the danger of painting the result in black and white terms became apparent, as well-intentioned experts concluded: in all seriousness – Since talking didn’t work out, our best hope would be that billionaires circumvent the UN and geoengineer the weather from space. Because obviously the answer to a vast uncontrolled experiment in the atmosphere is to perform a vast uncontrolled experiment in the atmosphere.
Don’t Look Up is anything but subtle, which is why climate scientists have enjoyed it more than some movie critics. But in a world where the president of the most powerful democracy seemed close to inciting insurrection, where companies argue over whether saving the planet makes economic sense, where oil apologists ally with Covid deniers, where a teenager shows more maturity than 200 heads of government – well, subtlety crossed the horizon a long time ago.
Nina Lakhani: ‘Jennifer Lawrence’s character will resonate with many climate scientists’
There was a lot to like about Don’t Look Up – it’s a largely clever satire with a few witty lines, and in my opinion the movie quite successfully used the impending doom of a scientifically undisputed planet-killer comet to draw parallels to the impending one. . the doom of the climate emergency, which we are seeing in real time. In the movie, the world has six months and 14 days to save the planet from destruction, but does not do so because short-term political gain, corporate greed, misinformation, and utter stupidity divide America. In real life, the clock ticks too, but inaction and political failures go back decades.
The way Kate Dibiasky, the graduate student played by Jennifer Lawrence who discovered the comet, is portrayed as an unhinged hysterical woman, will resonate with many scientists and climate activists whose crucial knowledge has been neglected. The scene where his parents declare that they are in favor of the jobs that the comet will provide will resonate with millions of people, including myself, trying to deal with relatives who have bought political lies.
I appreciated the young Indian who pointed out that the US did not invite any other country to participate in its space mission to save the planet without help, which also helped make sense of the casual and not-so-casual racism of American leaders scattered throughout. everywhere. But I didn’t get the fleeting shots of black and brown people watching the disaster unfold passively, and the scene in which an indigenous man plays a sacred drum (used in many indigenous cultures to connect with the spirit world) as the forest burns at his heart. around. he felt uncomfortable.
But my main problem is the message of “we are all in this together”, as if the climate crisis hits everyone equally like a killer comet. It won’t, and those who have contributed the least to global warming are already bearing the brunt of rising sea levels and deadly weather events like fires, floods, extreme heat and droughts. Climate justice begins with the recognition of these inequalities; otherwise, the impending doom will come much sooner for some.
Damian Carrington: ‘It highlights the absurdity of looking disaster in the face and then looking away’
I liked Don’t look up, both as entertainment and as a parable of the climate crisis. But the film has been criticized by many critics, and the main accusation is that it is clumsy, forceful and too obvious. But that’s exactly the point.
Scientists They’ve been issuing blunt warnings about the obvious dangers of global warming for years and they’ve been ignored – carbon emissions keep rising. The film perfectly shows the key ways in which they have been ignored: for short-term political expediency and short-term corporate profit.
In particular, the film beautifully portrays scientists’ disbelief that their carefully constructed evidence can be dismissed with boasting such as “we’ll sit back and evaluate” by leaders more concerned about the current political climate and media more interested in the issues. celebrity minutiae. ‘lives.
The movie is a satire, but is it still too clumsy to reflect a deeper truth? Perhaps for critics who evaluate the film solely on its artistic merits, but not for science communicators like Neil deGrasse Tyson, who told his 14 million followers on Twitter: “Everything I know about news cycles, talk shows, social media and politics tells me that the movie was instead a documentary.”
The public seems to be on the side of the filmmakers. In its first 11 days, Don’t Look Up became Netflix third most viewed movie everand 250,000 people on IMDb gave the film a strong 7.3 average rating, compared to a Metacritical review of only 50%.
But global warming is a slow-motion disaster, not a comet poised to destroy Earth in months that needs to be diverted from its course. The solutions to the climate crisis are much more complex and another criticism is that the film does not present any of them. I would say that it is not necessary, the solutions exist and are well known.
The goal of the film is to savagely highlight the absurdity of staring disaster in the face and then looking away instead of acting. In that sense, it is a triumph.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism