The interesting thing about the new film just released over this holiday season, “Don’t Look Up,” is the breadth of its satirical critique of our modern society. There is really very little that is left unscathed in our current society by it, and every bit is deserved. As such, the film, chock full of top-drawer acting talent, sends a powerful holiday message: America, stop acting like idiots because the very existence of our species and our planet are at stake.
People can argue over whether the extinction event such as portrayed in that film, earth being hit by a large meteor, is a metaphor for the Covid pandemic, climate change, a nuclear war, the re-election of Trump or some other catastrophe. Or, maybe somebody knows there is a big meteor heading our way and is trying to soften the blow ahead of time.
The underlying reality the film tries to get at is how stupidly insensitive our society has become, and most singularly with respect to a lack of respect for science and the truth. The film is a painful tribute to how far we’ve come away from respect for such basic things, being the failures that led to the election of Trump and the continuing menace he represents.
It’s the kind of film that begs to give all the actors who are participating in the inability to face reality a huge slap in the face. Wake up, people!
So that bracing slap might be the best gift we get this holiday season, after all. It corresponds with the softer critique offered by Jason Sudakis, the comedian and actor who stars in the year’s most popular TV sitcom, “Ted Lasso.” On “Saturday Night Live” when asked to explain the success of the show, Sudakis quipped, “I don’t know, because it’s about two things our society hates: soccer and kindness.” Take that as another dig at what has become of our culture.
Our culture has been numbed by the substitution of real heroes (like our front line scientists and health care workers) with fake ridiculous ones, cartoon ones, whether on the screen or the national ritual of heroes sacrificing the one thing that defines them as important, their minds, to dozens of grunting collisions on mock fields of battle, in so-called football. It should be called “brainball,” instead, to identify the organ most impacted by it.
Yet as some, at least, are looking to do more to sound the alarm for the health, present and future, of human civilization, a game changer may have come in the event this month – the launch of the James Webb Telescope – which if it functions as planned, is going to light up the nighttime sky from our perspective, with images that will be vastly beyond anything even the best work of the Hubble Telescope has been able to show us. We predict we’ll learn conclusively that there is intelligent life out there this coming year!