Between “Don’t look up” and “Mars attacks”

The nightmare in the two films does not lie in the fall of the apocalyptic comet or the impossible Martian invasion, but in the consequences of idiocy

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In the civilization of the spectacle, the intellectual is only interested if he follows the fashionable game and becomes a buffoon
Mario Vargas Llosa

A Netflix movie shows us how in this world of technology and the information age, stupidity and media shows overshadow common sense and objective and forceful science.

This interesting parodic vision of a disaster of apocalyptic proportions is called “Don’t Look Up” (2021) by director Adam McKay and tells us about the desperate odyssey of two astronomers (played masterfully by Leonardo DiCaprio in the role of Randall Mindy and Jennifer Lawrence like Kate Dibiasky) trying to demonstrate that a comet of more than 9 kilometers will impact the earth causing the total extinction of the human race.

Confronting them with a US president (nothing more and nothing less than a wonderful performance by Meryl Streep) more concerned about her media image, about taking a sexual deviant to the supreme court and about becoming famous by supporting a, quite disturbed, “genius ” of telecommunications and mass media that alienate the public with a positive vision of the infinite tragedy of everyday life, thus leading our protagonists to be persecuted, humiliated and (figuratively) erased from the media environment in favor of what “ politically correct” in a world obsessed with “youtubers”, “influencers”, “tiktokers” and science and culture in 280 characters or in the trendy meme.

In this vision of the apocalypse, the director mocks our obsession with 15 minutes of fame, the inability to listen to the forceful voice of science, the waste of corruption and imbecility of politicians, journalists and anyone unable to “look up ” or in any other direction where the truth is showing its face. In a waste of black humor very well constructed and, in the end, those of us who look up end up in the eternal dichotomy of not knowing whether to laugh or cry.

While watching this interesting film production I remembered another great parody where stupidity was the guide of certain power groups; director Tim Burton’s brilliant vision of an alien attack, “Mars Strikes” (1996).

In this film (which has an outstanding number of movie stars) tells the story of a Martian invasion of Earth that must be faced by an American president (played by Jack Nicholson who also represents in the film an ambitious Texan investor from Las Vegas) that is very close to that vision represented by Meryl Streep in “Don’t look up”, since her concern is more about her image in the media than about seriously and objectively facing the problem represented by the evil cadaverous little men who during most part of the film cunningly deceives naive politicians and good-natured scientists who, like Professor Donald Kessler (played by Pierce Brosnan), state over and over again “that they are an advanced intelligence, therefore they are peaceful”, while the evil Martians disintegrate to half humanity.

Here is also a scathing criticism of the media that have journalists more concerned about their image than about investigating and giving true and objective information; Those political leaders who ignore those who try to give a different opinion on a problem are also criticized (the president of the United States continually ignores the suggestions of a general, quite disturbed by the way, to attack the invaders as soon as possible) and , finally, shows us the fanaticism and stupidity of the people while disaster hangs over their heads.

In these films we are transported to that “civilization of the spectacle”, to that world of compressed information, junk media messages, ignorance and functional technological illiteracy (a meme is more “educational” than reading a book and more “scientifically” successful a youtuber than the most prepared university professor).

The vision of “Don’t Look Up” and the nightmare of “Mars Attacks” do not reside in the fall of the apocalyptic comet or the impossible Martian invasion, but in the consequences of the idiocy that dominates the world today where reading is ridiculous, accepting the truth is sin and politically correct thinking prevents us from seeing the reality that surrounds us with common sense.

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