The movie “Don’t Look Up” made a serious mistake (Opinion)

Editor’s Note: Holly Thomas is a London-based writer and editor. She is a morning editor at Katie Couric Media. Tweet on @HolstaT. The opinions expressed in this comment belong solely to the author.

(CNN) — On January 8, 2017, Meryl Streep delivered a speech at the Golden Globe Awards which, depending on who you ask, gave a voice to heartbroken Americans or misjudged voters’ frustrations.


Shocked and scared after Donald Trump’s presidential victory, Streep rallied her audience of Hollywood stars, filmmakers, and foreign press, telling them they belonged to “the most vilified segments of American society right now,” but if they were fired, the public would have “nothing to do other than football and mixed martial arts, which are not arts.”

Her speech couldn’t be less persuasive to the demographic she seemed most desperate to reach.

Many Americans who voted for Trump in 2016 did so because they felt forgotten for him establishment political and social, and believed that their way of life I was under threat. Their motivations are unlikely to include ensuring that celebrities continue to charge millions of dollars to play someone else. Surrounded by colleagues who shared the same priorities, Streep’s message only accentuated the existing gap.

Almost five years after that speech, “Don’t Look Up,” the Netflix catastrophe satire starring Streep alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, spends more than two hours making the same mistake. In its efforts to advocate for its cause, the film does nothing but alienate those who most need to be moved by its message.

The premise of the film is that a huge comet is on a collision course with Earth, but the corrupt and self-centered president (played by Streep) and the evil media choose to ignore the danger because they think they can take advantage of it.

Meryl Streep represents President Janie Orlean in “Don’t Look Up.”

It is a metaphor for climate change that should generate empathy, by nature. Unfortunately, there has never been a more hostile environment to use it.

As “Don’t Look Up” says, the biggest problem facing the world is that the gullible public and greedy elites continue to refuse to listen to smart scientists.

In the recent context of the disinformation About vaccines and the billionaires who make vanity trips to space, it is a tempting position. The problem is that when science is politicized, either by those who defend it or those who deny it, objective truth ceases to have general persuasive power.

Contradictory as it may seem at times, to win people over, science must remain apolitical.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence play scientists with an important message in the movie “Don’t Look Up.”

For example, Anthony Fauci, America’s long-suffering infectious disease expert. He tried so hard to stay politically neutral while serving under the Trump administration because he knew the appearance of bias would only serve to alienate many of the people who desperately needed to hear his advice.

Like Greta Thunberg, who until the 2020 U.S. elections relentlessly focused on the climate action Without going into the dirt of the left against the right, Fauci understands that any political association only serves as distraction of the task in question.

When Fauci’s words were taken out of context in a Republican Party announcement in mid-October 2020, it was he was quick to distance himself. When Fauci’s recommendations to combat the coronavirus, such as the use of masks, continued to conflict with the Trump interests, he changed tactics and began to to discredit both Fauci as the science it represented.

As it did? He claimed that Fauci, who is not registered with any political party, he was a democrat.

This political fracture was reflected in the public acceptance (or lack thereof) of science. By the end of October 2020, according to the Pew Research Center, Democrats accounted for 76% of those expressing concern that others would not wear masks, while Republicans accounted for 92% of those expressing skepticism or opposition to masks.

Almost a year later, Americans who relied primarily on Trump for their covid-19 information were among the less likely to get vaccinated. Far from winning people over to evidence-based precautions, Fauci’s Trump-imposed association with Democrats only served to turn him into a Target for Republican ire.

Science is objective: “mathematics”, as “Don’t Look Up” constantly says, either adds up or not. But insofar as scientific truth is intrinsically associated with a political creed, people with opposing political sympathies will be predisposed to mistrust it.

No matter how well-intentioned the writers and cast of “Don’t Look Up,” the goal of defending scientific facts must be dissociated from that of asserting moral superiority. The constant insinuation that those who hesitate to accept new evidence, be it the safety of vaccines or the impact of the comet, are stupid, corrupt, and on the “wrong” side politically, only adds another hurdle for science to overcome.

Towards the end of the film, when one of Streep’s character’s distinctly Trumpian rallies turns into chaos, Jonah Hill, who plays Streep’s son and secretary-general, yells “rednecks“over his shoulder as he escapes. The message it is intended to convey – that” bad “politicians who try to mislead the public have nothing but contempt for them – is clouded by the fact that the” good guys “who made the The movie doesn’t seem to think much of them either.

Defenders of science should always try to leave politics at the door. Otherwise, the task is not only to convince people that the comet is approaching, the planet is quickly overheating, or the vaccine will protect them. It is also about forcing large sectors of the population to accept that a cornerstone of their personal ideology is wrong.

And when the comet is so close, there is no time for it.

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The movie “Don’t Look Up” made a serious mistake (Opinion)