Guess everyone has seen “Don’t Look Up” by now. This movie is a Netflix production about the discovery of a huge comet on a killer trajectory toward Earth, and humanity’s utter fecklessness in the face of it. I recommend it. There is a special splinter of despair to be endured by glancing at comments online and seeing how many people are saying “Wait, what happened? The world didn’t really blow up, did it?” and—almost worse—how many other people solemnly explain “It’s about the pandemic, stupid.”
Ahem. It is not about the pandemic, stupid. The pandemic may be the only thing people are taking personally at the moment, but in the grand scheme of things the pandemic is a blip. It’s going to sputter out, or it’s going to bore itself to death, or it’s going to make an endless nuisance of itself like all the other inventive viruses out there we’re already contending with. COVID is having an impressive run, but it’s no Black Death, which got people’s attention by taking out every second European. Even if our plague du jour took out a billion people, it wouldn’t have a noticeable effect on life itself, and it would be a boon to the vulture enterprise.
Not that there were so many people available to kill in 1347. Not like now, when not only do we number in the low bazillions, but a whole lot of us think nothing of buzzing around the landscape with the power of two hundred horses just to buy a big box of plastic crap, and insist on a five-degree range of comfort at all times and in all places.
Which, honestly? Would all be really neat-o, except that we had to cook the planet to do it. Which means here we are with an Earth-killing comet we made by ourselves, whose effects are predictable and were predicted long ago, whose causes are well-known, whose ultimate course is plain to see, and whose solutions, such as they are, are left to languish on the shelf in the name of profit and mere convenience masquerading as a birthright.
If we as a group acted like one reasonably intelligent adult individual, or even a squadron of sugar ants, we wouldn’t be approaching this crisis the way we are. But although every aspect of this movie seems, at first, way over the top, too outrageous to be believed, it depicts our current reality to a T, from the clownish and degenerate President to the fortune-seeking elite to the ignorant and gulled masses they maintain in their service, and its fatal conclusion was and is foregone. But this isn’t a movie review.
This is a tribute to the dinner scene.
In the movie, the people who knew best what was coming, and when, and had no ability to turn it away, despite their best efforts, sat down to dinner. A half hour before the comet impact they sat down around a table with family, friends, and a stranger, and they cooked fingerling potatoes, and they talked about nothing much, and they held hands. And I took great comfort from that scene. Because I don’t know what to do anymore, but we can still have dinner. We can still have each other. You’re all invited. I’ll set the table. I’ll be having a beer, but you go ahead and bring what you want.
As always, very well said. Y’know, it took me till the age I am now (60) to really get it, what you wrote here. Good doesn’t always triumph over evil (in fact… forget it) and we’re not destined to go on forever just because we’re self-aware. But I’d give anything to see where we’re at 10,000 years from now…
My suspicion is we will be long, long gone by then. We’re a bottle rocket of a species.
I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s on my list for after we finish the latest season of Outlander. (We only watch “TV” on our weekends. So we have to be selective about what we watch. Which is a good thing.)
This reminds me of the Ray Bradbury book, The Martian Chronicles, which was televised as a mini-series back in the 70s. I seem to remember that at the climax, we realize that WE were the Martians. We fucked up one planet and were on our way toward fucking up another one. So back we go to Mars, to colonize it (and presumably fuck it up again.)
I think the entire Universe will be better off without humans in it. Doug, I don’t think we will be around in 20 more years, let alone 10,000. But I’m a pessimist. And from what I’ve read, pessimists are more closely allied with reality than optimists are. Not that THAT’S any comfort to us.
Murr, from what you said about the “dinner scene,” Paul and I are living our lives like that now. We don’t expect to be around much longer, either as a species, or as individuals (because we are getting OLD.) We eat the best food, drink the best whiskey, and live well. If the comet hits us tomorrow, we won’t have any regrets.
Mimi I’m betting Murr’s prediction is woefully accurate, but 20 years?! Aren’t you being a little spare?? Well, I like Patti’s menu items for that Last Supper at least…😟
I do find that personal mortality-related grief is far outweighed by my sorrow for the planet, and yes, something will survive in some fashion, but it’s awful to be your own asteroid.
Haven’t seen it but if I get a chance I will. As for the last supper, I am all for that as a way to go out. Hopefully along with loved ones, the menu will include lots of bacon and fried chicken.
After all, the pigs and chickens are going to be goners too…
“…a whole lot of us think nothing of buzzing around the landscape with the power of two hundred horses just to buy a big box of plastic crap and insist on a five-degree range of comfort at all times and in all places.”
I’ll have a beer, too.
Come and get it Leslie!
A high school classmate, a gifted athlete who I knew, died recently, apparently from a heart attack. As we all approach age 70, such events are a vivid reminder that many of us won’t be around much longer. All the more reason to enjoy what time we have left…
It’s still remarkable how many more dead people you know the older you get. I mean, predictable, sure, but it’s getting creepy.
I haven’t seen this movie yet, I’m waiting for it to get to TV. I do hope we get to stay around for quite a while yet though, my new baby grandchildren (twin girls) aren’t even born yet and I’d like to see them grow up.
Twin girls! Tremendous. The movie is streaming (it’s not in the theaters).
I’ve seen it. Jennifer Lawrence had fab hair, Timothee Chalamet was an oddly charming jester in her court. The humans generally behaved like the over-hyped mammals we are, and it was not a good look. We suck.
I’m getting a little desperate in my search for some redeeming qualities I can claim for my species before I shuffle off, stage left. Fannie Farmer wrote the character of Aunt Elner, who opined,
“…Poor little old human beings-they’re jerked into this world without having any idea where they came from or what it is they are supposed to do, or how long they have to do it in. Or where they are gonna wind up after that. But bless their hearts, most of them wake up every morning and keep on trying to make some sense out of it. Why, you can’t help but love them, can you? I just wonder why more of them aren’t as crazy as betsy bugs.”
This notion has been my lifeline to Other Humans, but it’s gone slack of late.
“…jerked into this world…” ooh my. I wasn’t familiar with Chalamet, but the Mark Rylance character was remarkable.
OMG! Mark Rylance is in it? I loved him in Bridge of Spies! I remember a scene where Tom Hanks, as his lawyer while Rylance’s character is in prison, tells him about the penalties he’s facing and asks, “Aren’t you worried?” Rylance’s character replies resignedly, “Would it help?” Brilliant actor!
I used to want grandchildren. Now I’m glad my children made the decision not to follow that path.
I absolutely agree with that. Interestingly, my own mother said something once about it being a good idea not to bring children into the world–my world, that is, and she was just talking about little piddly stuff like nuclear war.
Yeah, I’ve been averse to having children since I was a teen. Never really liked children even when I WAS one (hung around adults a lot.) SO glad now that I held to my terms and ended up with a man who also didn’t want children. Broke up with a lot of guys who wanted me to “compromise.” (How in gods name do you compromise when one person wants zero kids and another wants “at least one?”) I was scared shitless as a tyke during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Cold War. And…. here I am again. Except that now, it’s like the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Spanish Flu, and the incipient Civil War all rolled into one. OH! And let’s not forget the asteroid that is hurtling toward us (global warming) to wipe us out. If this were a Stephen King novel, I’d be throwing the book down and saying, “This is just fucking unrealistic. No way ALL this stuff would happen at once!”
It is weird to be one of the last of our kind.
This looks like a good time to repeat THE STAGES OF GLOBAL WARMING DENIAL. (The order may vary somewhat.)
1. There’s no global warming. It’s just a moneymaking hoax by Al Gore. No, I mean it’s a conspiracy between American libtard snowflakes and the Chinese government to hamstring the US economy in the interests of Chinese global dominance. Wait, wait, let me think up another.
2. OK, there’s global warming but DON’T YOU DARE call it that, we’ll destroy you professionally and politically if you don’t call it “climate change,” and that goes for you in the press and even you (ESPECIALLY YOU) climate scientists.
3. There’s climate change but there’s no global warming.
4 OK, there’s climate change but it’s not anthropogenic, it’s sunspots or the 100,000-year Milankovitch cycles in the earth’s orbit or the 26,000-year precession of the earth’s axis or the 41,000-year cycles in the earth’s axial tilt or the continuation of the natural progression of the climate continuing from the end of the last ice age or….
5. OK, there’s anthropogenic climate change but it’s only a small factor in the overall pattern.
6. OK, there’s anthropogenic climate change but I think we really need carbon dioxide, don’t knock it.
7. FAR MORE than 3% of climate scientists believe there’s no dangerous anthropogenic climate change but they’re afraid to publish or speak publicly their positions because of Political Correctness and no you can’t call what we did in Stage 2 Political Correctness because that term is only applicable if it’s RightWingers who are being pressured and the reason I know that’s their position despite their not having published it or spoken of it publicly is because THEY TOLD ME SO.
8. OK, there’s a LOT of anthropogenic climate change but it’s great for opening new shipping routes, it will improve our country’s geopolitical position, it will enable us to mine for minerals, drill for oil and build hotels in Greenland and what greater good could there be, and it won’t do any harm, really. And since in the history of life on earth more organisms have gone extinct than exist today, it follows logically that the current rate of extinctions must be trivial both ethically and in its effects on human life.
9. OK, we’re fucked but IT’S ALL THE FAULT OF YOU DEMOCRATS!
I can barely even read this. Must ward off despair.
I have an ex-friend who I watched go through all the stages but the last, and that will come eventually.
I’ll join you in a beer. Hopefully we’ll still be abke to drink it cold. I had a rocket scientist explain global warming to me one day. I didn’t really understand it until they launched the webb telescope and explained why it takes so long to cool down in a vacuum. Apparently, the heat doesn’t transfer away very well when there are no molecules to transfer it to in space. Same with earth. We have gotten very skilled and generating heat with only slow ways to transfer it off the planet.
Hmm. I’m not sure that’s what the problem is. It’s not so much that the vacuum of space has changed. It’s that we’ve trapped the heat in because gases like methane and CO2 absorb so much more infrared light and send some of it back to earth.
Whoops. My first comment shows me as anonymous. I’d better ID myself so you’ll kniw who you’re sharing a beer with.
I get to share a beer with strangers too!
I can’t add anything, but I am glad I am old.
Yup. Me, too. I feel sorry for young people these days.