The 2021 film, Don’t Look Up is a satirical comedy that uses many satirical devices to critique and make fun of various aspects of contemporary society. Techniques such as hyperbole, irony, and parody are used in order to fulfill the vision the filmmakers had.
To begin, the film uses hyperbole to exaggerate the numerous issues in society, such as the threat of an asteroid hitting Earth, the media’s obsession with sensationalist news, and the political polarization that prevents any effective actions from being taken. Probably the most obvious example of hyperbole in this film is the impending doom the scientists express when talking about the asteroid that is heading towards Earth. After their discovery of the asteroid is made, they attempt to bring this information to the White House, although it does not go as well as they planned. The use of hyperbole is seen again when the extremely self-interested President (Meryl Streep) dismisses the threat and is depicted as a power-hungry, egotistical leader. The White House Staff is also portrayed as dimwitted and incapable of recognizing this impending extinction. The exaggeration of these things creates a very frustrating feeling that the target audience can relate to.
Another layer to this satire is the use of irony. The film uses irony to highlight the absurdity of the situations portrayed. For example, the scientist’s warnings about the asteroid are dismissed as fake news by some politicians and members of the public, while the media is more interested in the personal lives of the scientists. This creates a sense of confusion within the scientists similar to the confusion many people get when observing the current problems in the world compared to what news outlets choose to talk about instead. In addition to the utter ignorance of this humanity-threatening event amongst news sources, the spread of misinformation takes place in the film as well. The scientists provide concrete evidence regarding the seriousness of their claims, however members of the public take to social media and try to denounce these claims as fake news. This may seem like an absurd thing to do and the fake news claims may have been a little far-fetched, however compared to how things work in today’s world, the filmmakers were not far off from reality.
Finally, another very prominent satirical device used was parody. This film parodies different styles of movies including disaster movies, political dramas, and talk shows. For example, the character President Orlean, played by Meryl Streep, is a parody of real-life politicians who are more concerned with their image and popularity than with actually governing. These parodies combined with the other satirical techniques mentioned earlier caused this movie to be a very impactful and eye-opening film that used satire to its fullest advantage.
Overall, Don’t Look Up uses a variety of satirical devices to lampoon various aspects of contemporary society, highlighting the dangers of ignorance, apathy, and polarization in the face of global threats.