Don’t Look Up, Look Forward Instead


Photo by Neale LaSalle from Pexels

Written by Zoey Foss, A & E writer

The topic of climate change has been largely ignored until recent years when an influx of data and activism forced the issue into the public eye. Activists like Greta Thunberg and Jamie Margolin have led protests and calls to action. Despite the increasing number of protestors, politicians have yet to take significant steps to reduce pollutants. The most recent wake up call is a Netflix original titled Don’t Look Up, a movie about the imminent threat of a comet headed toward Earth expected to crash and cause fatal damage in just six months.

The creators of the movie based their characters on real life influencers, like Greta Thunberg and former president Donald Trump. While it may seem politically motivated, the movie is primarily about ignorance surrounding climate change. It’s easy to tell who each character represents from the moment they appear on screen. Similarly, many scenes reflect real situations that have happened, and the parallels are clear when you know to look for them. Don’t Look Up is an incredibly transparent metaphor for climate change and the struggles scientists face when attempting to educate the public. For example, the only media outlet the astronomers are able to reach is The Daily Rip, a morning show focused on entertainment rather than factual stories, resulting in the comet’s path being turned into a joke. Unfortunately, this represents a similar outlook on global warming’s urgency.

The movie begins with a college student, Kate Dibiasky, studying patterns in outer space. The producers have confirmed that Kate is representative of Greta Thunberg, an activist who started protesting at the age of fifteen. While Kate is several years older, both women are students who aren’t taken seriously due to their age and lack of training. Yet, both of their stories have been corroborated by scientists, represented in the movie by Dr. Randall Mindy. When Dr. Mindy confirms Kate’s suspicions, they make an urgent call to NASA and manage to secure a meeting with the president, Mrs. Jeanie Orlean. However, just like the Daily Rip, the meeting doesn’t go well. The president doesn’t believe the problem is as important as her upcoming re-election campaign. This goes hand in hand with how many politicians don’t vote for action, because they don’t want to lose their seat of power. 

Don’t Look Up has captured the reality that we live in today perfectly, while simultaneously disguising their points with witty humor and memorable characters. The movie has gained traction because it has incredible writing paired with a powerful theme. It was executed very well, and as a result, has become one of the most watched films available on Netflix right now. Even those who aren’t so immersed in this topic have seen the movie, purely for entertainment. The sheer amount of viewers can attest to the importance and impact this film has had on all people, across political parties and personal beliefs. Don’t Look Up may very well be the most important creative addition to the climate activism cause in a long time.

The positive impact this movie made hasn’t been received well by everyone, however. A good number of popular critics have given it low ratings, such as Rotten Tomatoes. The reason for this is unknown, though it’s likely because of the movie’s less than hopeful outlook. Just about everything seems to go wrong in the film, and there is no big moment where the heroes save the day. Yet, this is the necessary point that had to be made. If action isn’t taken to fix what we have done to our planet, our world will be just as dim and hopeless as that of Don’t Look Up.