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In a hall, after displaying a commercial on the screen, a woman on the PA system announces that before introducing the founder and CEO of BASH, the audience should remember to avoid direct eye contact, sudden movements, coughing or negative facial expressions.

Why is the woman on the PA system cautioning the audience?

2 Answers 2

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The implication seems to be that the CEO is autistic and thus sensitive to eye contact etc.

This article discusses the "autistic coding" of that character:

In Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up, Peter Isherwell (played by Mark Rylance) is the genius founder of tech company BASH. He seems to be a cross between a Steve Jobs and an Elon Musk, but with blatant autistic coding. His character is first introduced at a sort of symposium presentation and before he comes on stage, there is a voiceover that states:

“Before we introduce the founder and CEO of BASH, please remember to avoid eye contact, sudden movements, coughing, or negative facial expressions.”

There is rapturous applause. As he enters, Isherwell’s mannerisms are stiff, his facial expression fixed in a sort of half smile, and when he speaks, his voice is high pitched and tonally flat. When a child tells him, “I love you, Peter,” he ignores her.

I’m not sure how anyone could make eye contact through the glare of stage lights. The connotation around this bizarrely timed request for accommodations is that they are strange, and they set Isherwell apart as such.

That alone would be enough to signal to me that the filmmakers have Isherwell as autistic coded, but it gets worse.

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An earlier version of the script has Isherwell being very much more eccentric. This is apparently because of childhood trauma.

PETER ISHERWELL: Hello. I appreciate you keeping this meeting private.

TRANSLATOR (repeats in Mandarin)

CHINESE GENERAL (in Mandarin): Why is he looking away from us? I do not trust this man.

CHINESE TELE-COM EXECUTIVE: Why do you not make eye contact with us?

TRANSLATOR (in Mandarin) Mr. Isherwell watched his twin drown in front mere inches away from him when he was a teen. The trauma is still with him everyday.

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