“Don’t Look Up” – A One-Sided Debate

photo provided by Netflix

“Don’t Look Up” introduces a thoroughly engaging concept that is muted by an overtly political message. The film starts promisingly. It combines the intrigue of the vastness of space and the impending doom of a disaster in a way that holds the audience’s attention. There is rarely a moment in this film that feels tedious to watch. The jokes truly land when the focus is on satire, but it often fails when the director is trying to hit the audience with a message about the state of our society.  “Don’t Look Up’s” take on media and popular culture, for example, leads to scenarios that often border on cringe-worthy. The main offender of this near-departure from satire comes from the film’s political stance that frustratingly places it on a moral high-horse. 

There is nothing wrong with implementing politics into the film. “Don’t Look Up’s” director, Adam McKay, has done this before in a more tasteful way in films such as “Vice.” What separates “Don’t Look Up” from McKay’s previous work, is that it takes a side in a political debate and marks dissenting opinions as uninformed or stupid. It so desperately wants to be accepted from a certain side of the political debate, that it comes off as pandering. Politics in our reality are not as black and white as “Don’t Look Up” would have its audience believe. There are multiple sides and angles to the political debate that when one attempts to go all-in on one extreme, it would necessitate neglect of other issues that are important to create a functioning society. If an audience member finds that they relate to the politics portrayed in this film, that is not an issue. However, that audience member must acknowledge that this film overtly satisfies only those that are in agreement with the film’s ideas. 

It is truly a shame that “Don’t Look Up” takes advantage of satire in this manner. It has an exceptional introduction and finale and is genuinely funny at certain points. No matter which side of the political debate someone is on, no director should attempt to mitigate a side that they do not agree with, in a way that is disingenuous and cherry-picks points that singularly support their cause.

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