A comet flying through the night sky

What does ‘Don’t Look Up’ tell us about modern-day issues?

When a deadly comet heading to Earth might be a bit more realistic than we might like to think…

Don’t Look Up, a new Netflix original film, came out in December 2021 with a star-studded cast. Ranging from Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence to Ariana Grande and Kid Cudi, the film had no excuse but to be an immediate hit. But was this illustrious cast all it had to offer?

Sure, this film was hilarious, being heavily loaded with satire and sarcasm, but the truth of the matter is far more serious. The movie revolves around the life of two scientists discovering a planet-destructing comet that’s hurtling towards Earth, destined to destroy mankind in approximately six months. They struggle with the sheer incompetence of the US government, as well as their exploitation of the comet. As we are able to quickly point out, the comet is merely a metaphor for one of the biggest issues our generation has ever faced – climate change. The lack of awareness being portrayed by the general public until it is too late is a warning for the disastrous effects that climate change will and already has started to have on our planet. Instead of countries taking responsibility, working hard to decrease the amount of fossil fuels being produced per year, temperatures are still rising, polar ice caps are still melting, and many species are on the verge of extinction due to our own oblivion.

The character of Janie Orlean, the president of the United States, played to perfection by Meryl Streep, exploits the fact that an extinction-level event is about to happen and uses it to divert attention from a recent scandal in order to be re-elected. This character, no doubt, resembles Donald Trump, who also had his fair share of scandals (and also happens to employ his sons in powerful positions). The film successfully portrayed the differences between young generations and current world leaders, such as tech-billionaires, who mostly care for their own profit and not the future of the planet. In the movie, towards the end, it is the normal every-day people, such as Timothee Chalamet’s character Yule, who push for a solution to destroy the comet, instead of those possessing the power to do so. This mimics the recent protests against climate change in cities like London and New York and the avid spreading of news via social media.

Ultimately, this film provides the perfect mix of humour, an appealing cast, and also spreads important awareness for the prevailing issue of climate change. It makes a lot of sense that it got nominated for an Academy Award!