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Letters to the Editor: The ridiculous ‘climate change isn’t that bad’ critique of ‘Don’t Look Up’

Meryl Streep plays the fictional President Janie Orlean in the Netflix satire 'Don't Look Up.'
Meryl Streep plays the fictional President Janie Orlean in the Netflix satire “Don’t Look Up.”
(Niko Tavernise / Netflix)

To the editor: Jonah Goldberg misses the boat in critiquing the movie “Don’t Look Up.”

Satire is not intended to be taken literally, yet he treats the movie as if it’s an investigative report. His animus is obviously against the filmmakers’ politics, so he rails against “the aptness of their analogy” between threats posed by climate change and a looming comet collision.

In the early 18th century, Jonathan Swift wrote one of the all-time classic satires, “A Modest Proposal,” in which he suggested that chronic Irish poverty could be alleviated if the Irish would sell their children for food to the rich. This was an obviously preposterous “proposal,” but an 18th century Goldberg would have dismissed it as unrealistic and unworkable.

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Swift’s intent was to point out arrogant indifference toward the Irish Catholic poor, just as the intent of “Don’t Look Up” is to point out arrogant indifference to serious threats to humanity, such as climate change, that too many people simply want to wish away.

Claude Goldenberg, Seal Beach

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To the editor: Goldberg says that most media have covered climate change quite extensively. Yes, they have covered it by showing the fires, droughts and other catastrophes for their sensational value.

What they have done much less effectively is give the causes of climate change and educate the public on how to contain it. They need to expose the role of governments in their failure to take meaningful steps to slow climate change, because it will hurt their economic interests.

“Don’t Look Up” exposes these failures — of course in an exaggerated way so the viewer gets an idea as to the danger that faces our planet.

Vicki Rupasinghe, Ojai

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To the editor: Since it is unrealistic to expect people to be sanguine about an impending collision between the Earth and a comet as depicted in the film, that catastrophe arguably stands for something else.

“Don’t Look Up” (which never alludes to the climate crisis) succeeds because it invites audiences to substitute any idiocy that fits; and, of course, there are so many to choose from, particularly those emanating from persons in high places.

My personal favorite is when No. 45, the most consistent purveyor of crazy ever to occupy the Oval Office, told Bob Woodward at the outset of the pandemic that he knew it to be deadly, but played it down because he didn’t want to “create panic.” And when he suggested that injecting disinfectant could “knock out” the coronavirus, his most devoted followers either drank bleach or at least thought it was a good idea.

Now there’s a subject for a movie just waiting to be made.

Leslie T. Zador, Encino

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To the editor: Goldberg maintains that the movie got the science wrong because climate change is not an existential threat. Tell that to the residents of Boulder County, Colo., or Paradise, Calif.

To Goldberg, the fact that climate change won’t kill everyone immediately seems to make it not so bad.

“Don’t Look Up” is a very funny satire with a terrific cast. Goldberg fails as a climate scientist.

Carol Cochran, Arlington, Va.


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