As I hovered my finger over the “Cancel” button just a few days before I was scheduled to have yet another $14.99 deducted from my bank account, I remembered with fondness my many hours spent with Netflix. How it had gotten me through years of soul-crushing loneliness; the first time I heard the phrase, “Netflix and chill” and was informed of its meaning by my students, laughing for days afterward. I recalled my appreciation for the fact that it is the only streaming service that, if you don’t let it know that you’re still watching, will shut down—a very helpful feature if, like me, you watch the same shows over and over again and inevitably fall asleep.
If you’re wondering why I canceled my subscription it’s because I had, of late, been feeling I was in an abusive relationship as what seemed like every few weeks I was being informed that the cost was increasing. When I considered my streaming habits—again, the same shows on repeat—I decided it wasn’t worth it. I will admit, though, that because I’d been with them since 2013 canceling my subscription was bitter-sweet—kind of like ending a toxic relationship. The bad had started to outweigh the good. I will not stay around to watch Stranger Things, which, in my opinion, should have called it quits last season. Nor will I stick around for Ozark, because, let’s face it, The Byrdes should be longtime dead. But I digress…
Before I canceled though, there was one film I wanted to see: Don’t Look Up. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as well as a bunch of other great actors, including Rob Morgan, with cameos by Kid Cudi and Ariana Grande. The film is characterized as an “American apocalyptic political satire black comedy” on Wikipedia. I’m not sure about the need for so many qualifiers. Nor am I sure when dark comedies became “black,” but I digress…
The point is, I’d wanted to see the film for a long time and before my time with Netflix ended I made sure to watch it. I’m so glad I did. I agree with those who thought the film deft and yes, it might be heavy-handed. But the time for light-handedness is long past. Plus, the film’s exploration of the US’s political polarization and certain individual’s obsession with money to the detriment of all life, including that of the planetary as we’re all distracted by the inconsequential, exposes urgent truths.
Everyone in the film was brilliant and of course, being who I am, I spent a lot of time considering the role of Rob Morgan. He plays Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe, head of the US Planetary Defense Coordination Office, with the gravity and intensity that the role deserves. I loved watching him pop off the screen. This may seem odd, but I was wondering about the decision to have him wear a badly constructed wig, which I found distracting.
I’ve been a fan of Kid Cudi for years. He’s so talented. So, it was really fun to see him on screen. Looking him up after the film I learned that one of the reasons he’s been so quiet recently is because he had a stroke a few years back.
The film haunted me long after the credits finished rolling. I’m still haunted as I look at all the ways that we are hurtling towards our own destruction without any help from, and despite the best efforts of the universe to support our life on this one beautiful home of ours.