Don’t look around: the scary reality of “Don’t Look Up”

From absurd presidents to toxic social media, the Netflix film “Don’t Look Up” brings light to the absurdity of modern United States society. Other than giving audiences a satirical story about the end of the world, the film gives many viewers, specifically Americans, a scary wake-up to the ridiculous nation that is the U.S. The only question remains, “How accurate was the film?”

Film Poster (photo from Wikimedia Commons, Copyright Netflix)

The story follows astronomers Dr. Randall Mindy and Kate Dibiasky, played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, struggling to alert the world of its soon-to-be death. The two face modern culture, social media, and a troubling government in the journey to prepare for the end of the planet. What becomes clear to the audience is that the film mocks several familiar issues and topics we are dealing with today. The entire plot highlights the controversial concerns of climate change and COVID-19. In the world we live in, people either believe and are concerned about the issues, or think that everything is fine and there’s nothing to worry about.

The fictional presidential administration in the film takes many shots at, the one and only, President Trump. As Dr. Mindy and Ms. Dibiasky take the precautionary steps to alert mankind; they run into President Orlean, played by Meryl Streep, who resembles the MAGA Man. She is a former reality star who falls into politics, similar to Trump and his time on “The Apprentice.” The astronomers come to find that President Orlean and her chief of staff son Jason Orlean, along with the entire administration, are not concerned about the comet. Mindy and Dibiasky are told to “sit tight and assess” rather than prepare for doom. Not only does this mock President Trump’s attitude towards topics like climate change and COVID-19, but this bit also makes fun of President Trump’s children. Jason Orlean’s character is based on Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, her husband, Jared Kushner, and not-so-subtle hints of Donnie Jr.

As the film progresses, the Orlean Administration hosts many rallies spreading the slogan, “Don’t Look Up,” a direct jab at Trump rallies. The motto in the film is created to end the worry of the deathly comet, while the astronomers spread the words, “Just Look Up.” President Orlean proudly wears “Don’t Look Up” hats, mirroring the “Make America Great Again” merchandise. Jonah Hill’s character remarks to a rally crowd calling them Republicans to confirm all of these satirical coincidences.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of “Meta” (photo from Flickr.com-https://flic.kr/p/26F9s2C)

Politicians were not the only target of McKay’s writing as social media, pop culture, and the news was also hit with ridiculous, but accurate, satirical comedy. Mark Rylance plays Peter Isherwell, CEO of an advanced technology company who oddly resembles Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs. Isherwell is a very odd man, to say the least, with strange mannerisms and his way of speaking, which is most likely inspired by Mark Zuckerberg. For years, social media has claimed that Zuckerberg is not a real human being for his looks, his way of speaking, and his overall personality. Rylance does a good job breaking out the awkwardness to mock the Facebook, or “Meta,” CEO. Also, Rylance’s character focuses on how his new tech and cellphone tracks aspects of its consumers. This is a direct joke to Zuckerberg and the idea that Facebook tracks data. The glimpse of Steve Jobs comes into play when Isherwell showcases the new phone that has unique features to make society lazier.

Both news and social media work together to highlight how morning shows focus on drama and lighthearted topics, rather than actual issues. The news show in the film, “The Daily Rip,” is hosted by Brie Evantee and Jack Bremmer, played by Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry. The two news anchors portray the power of the news that exists in our world, as it is said that the show is top-rated. One of the main themes in this bit is the whole idea of these morning shows focusing on the positives, rather than reality. For example, when Dr. Mindy and Ms. Dibiasky join the show for a segment about the comet, the two anchors continue to make light of the situation instead of informing the nation of its inevitable end. This scene took place after Ariana Grande’s introduction as “Riley Bena,” legitimately based on herself. On the show, she talked about her recent dramatic breakup from a rapper. Obviously, this is a play on Grande’s actual drama involving her ex-fiancé Pete Davidson, in which their breakup was spread around social media and news sites as if it were news-worthy.

McKay’s star-studded film has divided its audience completely. The comedy disaster premiered on Christmas Eve only to bring in mixed reactions. Either critics tore the movie apart line by line or praised it for its cast and humor. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a rating of 54% while hitting a 7.3/10 on IMDb. It currently sits in the Netflix Originals category on the streaming service, awaiting further criticism, praise, or fear from the film’s accuracy.

Ethan Webber is a senior member of The Quill and the Multimedia Journalism class