“Don’t Look Up,” Adam McKay’s dark comedy released on Netflix just before Christmas, has gotten an enormous Amount of attentionDespite the fact that film critics tend not to agree with it doesn’t hold togetherIt is too well-respected artistically, and some even welcome it for its propagandistic potential.
As you’d expect from the creator of “Step Brothers” and “Talladega Nights,”Nothing about the film is subtle. Washington and the media are not equipped to deal with the threat posed by a huge comet. McKay and the story co-creator, David Sirota, have been very clear about what they’re up to. “Clearly,” McKay tells GQ, the movie is an “analogy or an allegory for the climate crisis.”
After the Netflix release, McKay took to Twitter: “Loving all the heated debate about our movie. But if you don’t have at least a small ember of anxiety about the climate collapsing (or the US teetering) I’m not sure Don’t Look Up makes any sense. It’s like a robot viewing a love story. ‘WHy ArE thEir FacEs so cLoSe ToGether?’”
This tweet is more funny than any line in the movie. But it’s also ironic, given that the reason the film fails as political satire is that McKay is more like that robot than he realizes. This allegory has three flaws. He misunderstands the media, politics, climate change and its effect.
McKay told NPR that he joined with Sirota to write the movie because, “We’re both incredibly frustrated with the Lack of coverageClimate crisis. You know, it’s usually the fourth or fifth story. It’s never the right tone, which should be much more urgent.”
Really? Where do these guys get their news information? Many news outlets have full time reporters who are focused on climate change. CNN and ABC News both created full-time teams for climate change reporting last year. The Washington Post and New York Times were already there. In April, Time magazine ran another of many cover stories on climate change showing a burning map of the world under the headline, “Climate Is Everything.” In 1989, Time skipped Person of the Year and made “Endangered Earth” the “Planet of the Year.”
In McKay’s movie, what is supposed to be the New York Times drops its coverage of the planet-killing comet story when it fails to get good Web traffic. Do I really have to defend the New York Times against this absurd insinuation
Like a robot watching the news, McKay watches the near-daily coverage of climate change and says, “wHeRE IS tHE cLImATE HySTeria!?!”
Then there’s politics. Meryl Streep’s entertaining take on a female President Trump scores some points, but Trump isn’t president. Joe Biden is the president, and he calls climate changes an “anonymous”. “existential threat”Every day.
And he’s not alone. Sirota made speeches for Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2020, and his old boss routinely said that kind of thing, too — as did virtually all the Democratic presidential nominees. And it’s not just rhetoric; we’re spending vast sums of money and reorganizing the missions of many government agenciesto address the existential threat of climate changes
But here’s the funny thing: Climate change is not an “existential threat” like a planet-killing comet, which let’s just admit would make for great TV. Not even according to the United Nations’ IPCC, whose worst-case scenarios for climate change, as terrible as some are, manifest themselves over a century and would not end all life here.
McKay & Co. are free to disagree about the aptness of their analogy. The only way to stop the comet in the movie is to push it off course and shoot nuclear weapons at it. Some people argue that the only way to stop a comet in real life is to use nuclear weapons. Reduce carbon emissionsTo use nuclear power. Sanders and many of his Democratic colleagues oppose that — which is odd if you actually believe we have no time to waste to save the planet.
Finally, it’s worth asking: Is McKay helping? Climate change, unlike an incoming comet requires sustained and sustainable intergenerational agreement. Chastising people who agree with him because they fall short of his peak hysteria and demonizing everyone else seem like exactly the kind of self-indulgence that’s made for satire.
Jonah Goldberg serves as editor-in chief of The Dispatch.