Should You Look Up? A Movie Review

The long and short of it is that yes, I think you should watch Don’t Look Up.

People say it’s an obvious allegory for climate change, but I would say its strength lies in the way it points out the utter inability of every powerful institution we have to deal with a serious problem seriously. Politicians, the media, billionaire entrepreneurs, they are all living within their own worlds, distinct and distanced from a larger reality.

I know the revolution will not be televised, nor will it be brought to you by Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, and Meryl Streep. But I don’t see it can do any harm for a lot of people to watch this movie. It does a pretty good job of putting on display the various dysfunctional patterns of those who are guiding our culture on its current trajectory. Maybe, just maybe, a few people will see this and be nudged into the realization that those we rely on to avert catastrophes are only going to make them worse.

Yes, the media has been exposed before. A Face In The Crowd, Network, They Live, even the 1989 Batman when the newscasters are forced to appear on camera without the use of any makeup, have pointed out the many ways in which the media is spectacle, meta, theater. But because the image of the media is constantly changing, it is necessary for our current media to be exposed to us. It is important to have today’s mask ripped off, the mask that is so ubiquitous and ever-present to us we run the risk of forgetting it is a mask. Every generation needs to experience this unmasking in the current vernacular.

I like that Don’t Look Up doesn’t try to make a scapegoat of a certain segment of the population but points out the foibles of all. No one is spared parody, so don’t be upset when it’s someone or something you consider sacred that’s being exposed.

Solutions are not to be had by joining one side to attack the other. And from what I’ve read from people I consider to be conservative, this came across as slightly liberal-leaning but overall fairly honest. Throwing in an older figure who likes to sniff women’s hair goes a long way in appeasing the Let’s Go Brandon crowd. And the greatest skewering of all goes to the mainstream media, which to be fair deserves it. Having been laid up the last week, I’ve resorted to spending some time watching television and am convinced more than ever of what a sewer pipe of disinformation and immorality it is.

Ultimately it is the billionaire entrepreneur who is shown to be the greatest villain of all. Conservatives may call such a person a socialist, but at least they have enough sense to despise this composite of Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk. Let’s not get hung up on semantics, am I right?

The media figures and the politicians are shown to be led by their compulsions, their egos, their self-interests, and their willingness to live within the tracks that they run in that write large across our culture. There is a need to push a false reality and these people are willing to live that false reality in order to reach the goals their crippled egos insist will make them worthy and admired. We are all running a mind program that doesn’t really jibe with the greater reality, but it is manifestly more obvious in the powerful than in those who follow them. The point being, I guess, is that we shouldn’t follow them, that we might come a long way in improving our own programming if we were to free ourselves from their leadership.

It is the billionaire entrepreneur who is most clearly disassociated from reality, even as it is the billionaire entrepreneur upon whom all the dysfunctional people of influence look to for guidance. They are not the manipulators of the masses, however, they are rather the idiot kings whom the rest of us are taught to believe possess a genius above our understanding or criticism.

This is a movie for the masses, it is a movie which everyone should discuss. It is an invitation to get out of your own little group and raise the mean popular awareness. This is what art is supposed to do. Undoubtedly it will alienate a few purists who feel the need to be beyond anything that reaches the masses, but it’s their loss should they sit outside the conversation.

One word of warning: I fear such a movie runs the risk of leading some to hopelessness. Weak people are constantly at risk of moving directly from obliviousness to despair. That’s why they stay so long in a fantasy world. If you’ve watched this flick, you probably have Netflix. If you do, watch A Boy Called Christmas. It’s written for a younger audience in mind but it is smartly done and it is hopeful. You need to be reminded not only that the world is in need of improvement, but that people have the power to actually make positive changes.

It is possible to be guided both by truth and by hope. In fact, I highly recommend it. Hope and a capacity for joy are necessary if you want to take on the troubles that truth is always exposing. Look up, because it’s worth doing. You are a grown-up who can deal with the truth, even if it is sometimes unpleasant. That’s how individuals survive, and that is how our species and our planet will, as well.



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