Meryl Streep President Orlean is the scientifically skeptical head of state of Don’t look up it rules out the plausibility of an apocalypse, and Easter eggs in the film reveal the true extent of its iniquity. Orlean is one of the film’s main antagonists: she possesses the power to respond to the danger posed by a comet discovered by doctoral candidate Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) but disregards claims from her and homeroom professor Dr Randall. Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio). Orlean is a president who focuses on the power of her position and how to maintain it in future terms, rather than the responsibility she has for her country.
When Dibiasky and Mindy finally receive an audience with the President to discuss the severity of the comet’s likely impact on Earth, they are met with hostility from Orlean and her smug son and chief of staff, Jason (Jonah Hill). Their warnings are appreciated only after approval by “Ivy Leaguers”, and acted only when it suited Orléans’ political strategy. Orlean looks more like a tycoon than a president, and small details in the film reveal what a woefully inappropriate head of state she is.
The Oval Office occupied by Orléans is authentic in appearance but furnished with Easter eggs that illuminate his tyrannical personality. The shelves are filled with copies of his book as if meeting astronomers was a potential marketing opportunity. The desk is further embellished with images of notorious past presidents, including Andrew Jackson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton. This highlights both his character’s shallow, economically driven opportunism, but also his questionable choice of role models as president.
The exposition granted as president indicates that the prevalence of the book written by Meryl Streep’s president is suggestive of her narcissistic tendencies, rather than any form of true promotion. His presidential icon choices, meanwhile, are all remembered, if not defined, by their respective controversies: Jackson was involved in the institution of slavery and also responsible for implementing forced relocation legislation Native Americans; Nixon resigned from office, before likely impeachment, following the Watergate scandal in which he was an accomplice. Past presidents are certainly unexpected choices for portraits on the walls of the Oval Office. The wacky decor choices are accompanied by a framed photograph of Clinton kissing Orléans, perhaps meant as a reminder of the 42nd president’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.
Orleans’ choices of inspirational personalities are unusual for a president and certainly inappropriate to publicize. Her personal wickedness as president is evident throughout the satirical plot of Don’t look up, but even blatant and oppressive politicians often declare their heroes as historical figures who are generally revered. The presidents immortalized in the Orleans office, however, are often remembered for their notoriety. Orlean is not just a caricature of a bad president, but she ultimately seems to be exactly the type of president she aspires to be.
Next: Does it matter that Don’t Look Up is a bad movie?
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