Yesterday I decided to see “Don’t Look Up” on Netflix. All I heard about the movie was that it involved a comet disaster, and mass media trying to distract the public from the reality of science. I remember that I really liked Deep Impact and even Armageddon back in the day, so I was looking for this one.
The movie sucked.
I know many American “leftists” who are hungry for any chance to dunk on the bigoted right-wind of the US, but show much less interest in actually trying to solve the problems, or even listening to the rest of the world they seem to support. This film seems to be hand-tailored for these people.
So these two astronomers discover a comet and calculate it will crash against the earth. They try to give this information to the White House, which ignores them, then they go to the news, which also ignores them. At this point I’m expecting the two scientists to go to other world governments, but the movie decides that it is more interesting to spend one and a half hour making fun of American media. Whenever the rest of the world is depicted, it is as poor people crowding around watching American news on TV. (There is a news report near the end of the move about a Sino-Russian rocket exploding. I was expecting the movie to say that the Elon-Zuckerberg character sabotaged it, but apparently anyone not American is just incompetent).
I do feel that the movie’s message about our current media environment, which downplays serious issues such as war, global warming, monopolies and pandemics, is important, but it is also the only thing the movie leans on, with a weird “patting itself in the back” tone. The scientists end the movie making peace with their deaths, the rich bigots die in a humiliating way, the rest of the world does tribal rituals as the comet arrives.
Today there is really no excuse to make a movie about global catastrophes that does not consider the whole world as an active actor. When the US and Europe were hoarding the Covid vaccines, China, India, Cuba and other countries stepped up to produce their own versions. While the west is deciding to give up and shrug through Omicron, East Asia is still holding tight with masking, social distancing, and treating Covid as the serious disease that it is.
There was a meme making the rounds on Twitter a few weeks ago about how several famous Hollywood movies would have their endings altered in China, where a dark screen replaces the ending with some message such as “and then the government made everything ok, and everyone went to work in the next day”. Honestly, I thought this movie would have been much better if it actually ended with a dark screen saying that “While the US was chasing its own tail, China-India-Japan sent a joint mission to deflect the asteroid, and everyone went to work in the next day. 加油!”