The question was raised during the Trump administration: Is satire dead? The answer by now is resounding, it seems to me, so any attempts to use humor or exxageration to expose people’s stupidity or vices in these dark times — post-Trumpian, but maybe not; a second (or is it third?) surge of the pandemic; Coal Man Joe Manchin holding up efforts to deal with climate change in the big, transformative way that’s needed — are probably futile or ineffective. That might be one of the reasons several critics have panned, “Don’t Look Up,” a global disaster film on Netflix with an all-star cast. It’s a film that is as apoplectic as apocalyptic, a narrative that expresses constant outrage and derision at vapid politicians and media personalities, capitalist technocrats posing as humanist visionaries and, generally, a society that’s indifferent to the coming disaster — in this case, an Earth-smashing comet discovered by a Michigan State graduate student played by Jennifer Lawrence. The cast includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry. The film might drive you crazy and its preachiness will certainly bother some. I liked the film, appreciated the effort, even if satire is dead. The fact is, I recognize satire at work, and just go with it. Had “Don’t Look Up” been a mere disaster film I would not have watched it. One note: When you see the end credits come up, do not click off your screen. There’s an epilogue . . . wait for it.
Published by Dan Rodricks
Dan Rodricks is a long-time columnist for The Baltimore Sun, winner of numerous national and regional journalism awards, a radio and TV personality, podcaster and fly angler. His narrative memoir, "Father's Day Creek," was published in May 2019 by Apprentice House at Loyola University Maryland. View all posts by Dan Rodricks