Netflix’s ‘Don’t Look Up,’ directed by Adam McKay, is a satirical science fiction film that sees astronomers Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) and Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo Dicaprio) trying their best to inform the global public about a comet guaranteed to destroy the Earth. However, due to greedy businessmen, biased media houses, raging conspiracy theorists, and the government’s deliberate attempt to quash scientific data, Kate and Randall find it hard to convince people about the end of the world.
In particular, the socially awkward Peter Isherwell (Mark Rylance), the founder and CEO of BASH, hinders the astronomers’ attempts to find a feasible way to stop the comet. Peter’s character is quite authentic, especially because we live in an age where tech gurus and billionaires are idolized. Additionally, fans are curious about BASH, which comes off as very realistic. So, is BASH Cellular an actual mobile company? Let’s find out! SPOILERS AHEAD.
Is BASH a Real Mobile Company?
No, BASH Cellular is not a real mobile company. However, it seems to be based on global tech giants such as Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook — companies that are lauded for their technological advancements but also heavily criticized for their alleged breaches of privacy, the pursuit of profits, and purported political lobbying. Essentially, in the film, BASH represents technological progress combined with corporate greed and an unethical involvement in governmental decision-making. The fictional company’s name also seems to derive from the Unix shell and command language of ‘bash’ — which is short for ‘Bourne-Again Shell’ and is used within the Linux operating system.
Throughout the movie, we see voice-operated BASH products and/or BASH advertisements in the environments of almost all the characters. The astronomy department at Michigan State has a BASH speaker, Randall’s son — Marshall — has a BASH phone, and Randall himself uses a BASH TV in his hotel room. This reminds us of the ever-growing popularity of AI Virtual Assistants like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google Assistant and the way in which many electronics companies have diversified their businesses.
We first meet Peter Isherwell, the brains behind BASH and the third richest man in the world, during the launch of a new phone called “BASH LiiF.” Peter’s behavior and mostly grey outfits remind one of all the memes that make fun of Mark Zuckerberg’s demeanor; the Facebook CEO especially encountered a barrage of jokes after the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal. Interestingly, BASH LiiF can monitor one’s vitals, determine one’s mood, and then present media meant to soothe the senses. This seems to be the futuristic version of contemporary smartwatches that can track your pulse rate and oxygen levels.
In the world of ‘Don’t Look Up,’ BASH’s technology has permeated every aspect of people’s lives. Additionally, Peter also reminds us of Elon Musk, who is particularly popular because of his plans to establish a human colony on Mars to ensure the long-term survival of humankind. Moreover, Peter’s style of conversation, too, seems to draw from Musk’s approach to public speaking. We also know that Peter ends up traveling to another planet, in his state-of-the-art BASH spaceship, to escape a dead Earth.
In one scene, Marshall’s BASH phone automatically purchases DJ Chello’s latest single after Riley Bina mentions his name on live television. This brings to mind a ‘Black Mirror’-esque society where people fail to notice how intrusive electronic gadgets are or how they have the capacity to go rogue. Additionally, the movie touches upon contemporary concerns regarding the amount of personal data today’s smartphones collect for advertising purposes.
We later see how Peter — after losing his cool — tells Randall that BASH has “over 40 million data points” on him and can predict with 96.5% accuracy how the astronomer will die. It is obvious that Peter, a talented man pursuing his grandiose profit-driven dreams, genuinely believes that he can solve all of the world’s problems, from poverty to biodiversity loss, by mining the comet for precious minerals that can be used by BASH and the US government to make electronics. He believes that he is not a businessman as he is simply working for “the evolution of the human species.”
However, Peter bypasses the scientific peer-review process with the help of the government when he wants BEADS (BASH Explore and Acquire Drones) to get launched quickly. Thus, money, curiosity, and power appear to be his motivators. Additionally, BASH seems to be Peter’s only respite from crippling loneliness — he once mentions how he always wanted a friend and his company seems to be his life’s only passion. It is ironic that BASH becomes solely responsible for the comet hitting Earth and eradicating all forms of life.
Fascinatingly, BASH accurately predicts the end of the Earth earlier in the movie by claiming that President Orlean will die because of a Bronteroc. In the mid-credits scene, the bird-like creature is discovered on another planet by the President and other important folks who escape a decimated Earth in a spaceship. In hindsight, Peter was too focused on the profits to be attained by mining the comet to even notice the pertinence of his own technology’s predictions.
Therefore, BASH is not a real mobile company; it is seemingly the amalgamation and extreme version of all the tech companies we see in our regular life. All in all, the fictional mobile company is nothing but an exaggerated version of a corporation that sells everything — from gadgets for everyday use to high-end products required for space ventures — and will do anything for profits.
Read More: Is Don’t Look Up’s Bronteroc a Real Bird?