The top three Netflix global-rated programmes currently include the heroic pursuit of a monster hunter, the escapades a Parisian woman by American women, and, at number one a dark comedy on climate change called Don’t Look Up.
Adam McKay directed the film and stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence. The film tells the story about two scientists who spot a comingt that threatens to destroy Earth. We follow their unsuccessful attempts to convince society to address this existential threat. Their efforts generate more interest than the handsome climate scientist.
The film has caused a stir enormous discussion online. I am fascinated by the internet as an environmental communication researcher. Storytelling is a powerful tool, it’s a debate I have followed very closely. What can the academic literature on climate communication tell us about the potential impact of this film’s production?
Attention to the driving issue
Environmental advocates have long struggled to convey climate warnings to a largely disengaged public – in fact, this inspired the entire premise of the film. It’s a major deal that a movie on climate change can take the top spot at Netflix. Its celebrity cast is partly responsible for its popularity. Many environmental campaigns use it. StarsThis is exactly why.
The film’s popularity matters as media can have an Agenda-setting effect – audiences assign greater importance to topics that receive more media coverage (known as “issue attention”). It is evident that the film is raising awareness about climate change, no matter how much viewers love it or hate it. Its success underscores the importance of the Meaningful roleThe arts and humanities have a role to play in presenting alternative views of climate change.
It’s OK to laugh at climate change
Don’t Look Up is not the first instance of comedy being used as a tool for climate change communication. Late night comedians in the US will host a comedy show on September 2021. We have joined forcesA climate comedy night Climate internet memes abound. However, a feature-length comedy about the climate crisis takes climate comedy to a new level.
Is humour a good way to engage people about climate change? Comedy is a powerful tool for communicating and understanding societal issues. The same holds true in the context of climateWhere it can help Learn to manage your emotions.
Many of us care about climate change. You can closely relate to the film’s protagonists as their experiences validate our own feelings of anger, frustration, and sadness about climate inaction. As one of the film’s characters exclaims: “We are trying to tell you that the entire planet is about to be destroyed!”
Funny comedy captures the absurdities we all face in our daily lives. We then feel like we are “in on the joke.” This is especially important for climate action as a sense of group belonging is a key predictive factorIndividual participation in activism. The film could encourage a sense of solidarity among climate action advocates.
Who will be watching?
Humour can be polarizing. This is the tricky part about humor. It’s clear who is being satirised when the film depicts Americans wearing red baseball hats emblazoned with the phrase “Don’t Look Up” who deny the existence of the comet.
We can safely assume that people who are already concerned about the climate change issue will be more likely to watch the movie than those who are being mocked. It is unlikely that the film will change the views of climate activists or sceptics who are steadfastly against climate change. Confirmation bias causes us to seek out information that supports the views we hold. Motivated reasoningThis causes us to interpret information in ways that are consistent with our pre-existing beliefs. The film’s greatest chance of influencing climate engagement is among individuals who are aware or concerned about climate change, but not yet alarmed. This group This represents a large proportion of the American public.
Will we be able to stop the comet from coming? (Spoilers ahead)
Will the film’s dark endingScare us into taking action about climate change, but will it also paralyse or scare us? It’s up to the climate change communicators whether to use hopeful or fear-inducing narratives. This topic is the subject of significant debateMy, and? Do your own research urges caution: we shouldn’t assume that a single piece of content will necessarily lead to dramatic changes in climate-related attitudes or behaviours.
However, communicating our ability to act on climate change – portraying a sense of efficacy or “Positive optimism” – is crucial. Despite the fact that the comet ultimately decimates human civilisation, the film shows that humans had the chance to avoid catastrophe. It is still possible to adapt and mitigate climate change. As Leonardo DiCaprio Tweet, “we may not stop this comet but we can stop the climate crisis.” On the other hand, the comet metaphor has limitations. Climate change is much more complex. It is difficult to predict its effects and prevent them from happening.
If Don’t Look Up teaches us anything, it’s that bashing people over the head with facts is not an effective communication strategy. The movie ends with a heartfelt conversation around the dinner table as the comet makes its impact on Earth. It would be great if such honest, difficult, and meaningful conversations could have taken place while the society in the film had time to act.
There is still time to take action on climate change. As climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe defendsInterpersonal conversations are one the most powerful forms for climate action. This means listening more than you speak and helping people to connect the dots between their personal values, climate change, and their own. Sparking dialogue will likely prove the film’s most important long-term impact.
Overall, despite the sad ending, I’m glad that Netflix can offer a satirical movie about climate change.
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