Had a pretty lousy day of my own the other day. Thought I would actually Netflix and chill. Because I am at my core a slave to numbers, I thought I’d check out Netflix’s most-watched original movie of late, DON’T LOOK UP. Plus, I heard a lot of good things about it from my who are fast becoming the Siskel and Ebert of this millenium, Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald. I thought it would be a nice escape from the disappointments of late.
While DON’T LOOK UP is arguably a well-executed film with an impressive cast and some truly funny moments it is, at least to me, anything but escapist. Its intent was to use the lens of a DEEP IMPACT-like plot line to message the frustration that a generation of climate change advocates are feeling as those in charge of the country effectively turn a blind eye to what they contend is a funereal march to our oblivion. The movie’s heroes valiantly try to alert the world, but run into the buzzsaw of a clueless and donor-controlled president obsessed with their image and media that is determined to cover everything else as a priority and mock those who scream otherwise. Well, so much for the concept of an escape.
That said, I saw the messaging and mirroring of our times in a slightly different way. What I saw was a world where every key decision and event was postponed, and people’s attentions were diverted toward worrying about whether a celebrity couple was dating or what branding was most effective toward trillion-dollar companies with deeply polarizing political interests. In the matter of hours I saw a couple of key decisions in my own life that could have provided extremely necessary funds delayed, either by snags in the development of a new process or by decision-makers catching Omicron. A couple of conventions that I had hoped to attend to develop networking opportuntiies for projects I passionately believe in, including NATPE, were cancelled or postponed, again due to Omicron. My fantasy football super bowl victory chances were deeply impacted by Omicron-related no-shows. Several games I’ve wanted to watch, let alone attend, have been postponed. A couple of friends I had hoped to watch these games with are battling Omicron as well. Not seeing them either.
I had looked forward to these projects and reunions as ways to signal that the new year was indeed the one of opportunity and regeneration that I had truly needed it to be. So far, that’s not been the case. While it’s admittedly a small (and, by the standards of Leblanguage, a statistically insignifcant) sample size, 2022 is to date a year where looking ahead is simply an aspiration and not delivering a payoff.
Those delays have been especially upsetting and triggered a regrettable action on my part that has led to a rift with a very special friend. For at least the next few days, this special person’s support and encouragement will be unavailable. I suppose I deserve it. I can blame the virus, and these days the very mention of Omicron gets my blood boiling. At the end of the day, though, it’s my inability to accept delays that is at fault. I can only cite the fact that with the mere swipe of my finger I can send money to people, buy things I am implored to invest in on Amazon, send an encouraging text to someone who is suffering or order my morning coffee. Outgo is easy. Getting something back in return for me has been frustratingly frought with snags. I simply have to find patience for what lies ahead and deal with the moment at hand.
SPOILER ALERT: At the end of DON’T LOOK UP, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character ultimately chooses to spend what will be Earth’s last hours in the moment, sharing a quiet meal with loved ones, rather than choose to board a spaceship where some other characters are cryogenically frozen and offered the chance at a new life. He chose neither looking up nor looking ahead, but looking and living in the moment. It was, for me, the messaging that even if not intended by the creators what my takeaway is. And without spoiling much further, let’s simply say that even for those who believed they escaped armageddon, there was indeed an end. And it was certainly a less enjoyable one for them than DiCaprio’s character chose.
Everything will indeed end. If there is any lasting impact of COVID for those that survive or (so far) avoid it, it is that point. So if that’s the case, it is incumbent upon us to pivot and make yet another plan. Find yet another way toward making money or expressing creativity. Find a different game to watch. Find another convention to attend. Find another friend to connect with. But definitely, definitely, don’t look ahead. And try not to look up, either.
Until next time….