Don’t Look Up film
I’ll add some thoughts about Adam McKay’s Netflix movie, but first let me give some quotes:
No metaphor is perfect, but there are two aspects of it that do afford a comparison with the climate problem. One is that it’s something that’s going to happen in the future that’s not having much effect today. The other thing that is dramatically true in that case, and is also true in the climate case, is that the longer you wait, the harder it is to do anything about it and the more expensive it is to do anything about it. If you catch this meteor or asteroid when it’s still very far away, you don’t need very much energy at all to knock it off course. But if you wait until the last minute, you have to exert huge forces on it. And at some point, you don’t have enough energy to do anything about it. And the climate is similar in that sense. If we had started doing [climate action] 40 years ago, we wouldn’t have had to spend very much money and we’d be fine today. You keep putting it off, putting it off, and hoping it will be the next generation’s problem and not ours, and it’s getting more and more expensive. And at some point, you won’t be able to do anything about it.” (Climate Scientist Kerry Emmanuel)
Here’s is a 15 minute video discussion with Mehdi Hasan about Don’t Look Up — with the scriptwriter and Michael Mann about the meaning and significance of the film and its metaphorical resonances. (Start at 38:51).
Here’s a review page by the online film critics.
Eleanor Cummins writes about imagining environmental disasters:
To be both hilarious and motivational is a tall order, but it’s the bar writer-director Adam McKay set for himself. Contrary to the critics’ opinions, a quarter-million IMDB star reviewers seem to think that McKay cleared it. The last act—smarter and more somber than the rest—may have even roused some of them to further action (including this writer, who walked out of the theater finally committed to dietary changes). But whatever one’s reaction to this latest climate film, at the very least, we’re talking about it.
While rage, even when repellent, and sadness, even when all-consuming, are worthy of representation, imagining a response to the crisis seems hardest of all.
For there’s a strong case to be made for a “more the merrier” mindset with “cli-fi” in every genre. We now live in a world that is “trans-apocalyptic,” as climate futurist Alex Steffen recently told Elizabeth Weil. “We’re in the middle of an ongoing crisis, or really a linked series of crises,” Weil elaborated, where our lives are increasingly “defined by ‘constant engagement with ecological realities,’ floods, dry wells, fires. And there’s no opting out. What does that even mean?” Art could help us find out. The more TV shows, books, and movies depicting climate change—and the more variety of climate consequences depicted—the better. But “the climate crisis is also a crisis of culture,” novelist Amitav Ghosh wrote in The Great Derangement in 2016, “and thus of the imagination.” While rage, even when repellent, and sadness, even when all-consuming, are worthy of representation, imagining a response to the crisis seems hardest of all.
Cummins is a science journalist dabbling in the arts. She recommends the Icelandic movie WOMAN AT WAR as a good story that imagines dilemmas posed by environmental commitment.
Update: I watched Woman at War on Kanopy. Okay, it isn’t perfect — it’s hard to believe that a potential mother would be so hellbent on environmental sabotage, but I loved the “Icelandic touches,” and having a soundtrack performed by live players was also amusing. I’m guessing that Iceland is battered both by environmental sensibilities and economic realities. Great scenery too!
Here are two podcast interviews with David Roberts of Volt: with Adam McKay (writer/director of Don’t Look Up) and Anat Shenker-Osorio (a leading messaging expert). Here’s what message Ms. Shenker-Osorio says that climate change people should be publicizing:
No matter what we look like, or where we come from, most of us want to care for our air, land, and water and leave things better off for those to come. But today, a handful of politicians and the fossil fuel CEOs that fund them are trying to divide us from each other, hoping that if they can distract us from the fact that they are profiting off of poisoning, our families will look the other way, while they put the clean energy solutions we know work out of our reach. By rejecting their lies and joining together across race, across origin, across ZIP code, we can make this a place that we’re proud to leave our kids for generations to come.
This is a good message — but it sounds a little formulaic.