A movie with such an A-list cast that includes Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tyler Perry, Meryl Streep, Mark Rylance and Timothée Chalamet was built to attract a vast audience and extensive discussions. However, Rotten Tomatoes
has a low aggregated rating of 55. But non-professional critics are more willing, and although it can be heavy-handed with its messaging, Don’t Look Up tackles important subjects with humour and heart
Don’t Look Up is an artful combination of hilarious and deeply disturbing, mainly because the most dysfunctional reactions to the news somehow seem very believable
Indeed, the movie manages to be a thorough portrait of today’s decadence, up to the point that some critics have been suggesting a second cut
Don’t Look Up probably will become “the” Movie of 2021 because it managed to tell us, and also make us laugh, about current global emergencies, starting from the discredit of politics and information.
Three things we should “look up” to.
As with many mainstream “pop” phenomena, I am always curious to see how much we can learn (and derive). This movie offers a platform for reflection on at least three topics relating to communication, leadership and the role of expertise, all elements that affect organisation design and that we should always consider.
The first and most prominent message that this movie carries is about the obstacles in the way of fact-based communications. However, in the film, a central message is the opposite: the social spread of non-facts.
It’s interesting to notice that the movie script dates back to 2019, before the COVID pandemic started.
The notion that a threat as immediate and universally menacing as a descending comet could become culture-war fodder — thereby turning the mere act of “looking up” into a litmus test for partisan allegiance — is a bit too plausible at a time when anti-vaxx identity politics has pushed U.S. COVID deaths over the 800,000 mark.
As such, Don’t Look Up highlights the ongoing problem
: We don’t want to listen. We want to be right
. Not something that we should limit to the frivolously depicted America of the Movie.
The risks at stake are high; beware, the movie highlights several biases
present in the communication that we do every day in and outside organisations that we should consider.
There is a solid anti-intellectual bias currently in place, and it is starting to affect organisations, sometimes also in a more obscure, anti-management bias. So even though we do recognise that management needs to change, we can’t simply throw it off-board without building an alternative.
We need to be wary that communicating negative news stifles understanding, for example, through conservative bias and the idea of simply not accepting the drastic emotional drain that change brings.