“Western culture is stuck in the mire of decadence, constantly looking down and too apathetic to do otherwise... So how might we once again elevate our gazes? The answer is straightforward: ambition," writes Samuel D. Samson in The Federalist.

In the early days of 2022, little captured the attention of the American public more than the Netflix film “Don’t Look Up.” The film recently broke Netflix’s record for most viewing hours in a single week.

The plot follows the journey of a washed-up astronomer (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his graduate assistant (Jennifer Lawrence), who discover a massive comet projected to destroy the Earth in six months. Yet in their quest to warn the world they find a largely apathetic public, leaders and citizens all too focused on trivial distractions to care about the impending doom. The most significant — and socially relevant — commentary of the film: everyone is looking down.

Indeed, the destruction of the planet is caused by the catastrophic failure of every social institution to respond with appropriate haste — be it the government, big business, media, or even activism. People are simply too consumed by immediate goods to care about the threat.

Even DiCaprio and Lawrence’s characters, meant to be the woke protagonists, squander away their vital duty, distracted by drug addiction and casual sex. The world of “Don’t Look Up” is one looking down — a global population focused on passive consumption, plagued by numerous vices, and motivated by selfish pleasure.

Here in the real world, we are not too far off. The modern West is itself a culture looking down — it focuses with near exclusivity on goods and services immediate and presently gratifying. Our culture is dominated by passions, of pursuit for the sake of good feelings and satisfaction.

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