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'Glass Onion', 'The Menu' & More: Challenging the Idea that Rich Equals Genius

'Glass Onion' explores the class divide in a similar satirical vein as films like 'The Menu' and 'The Invitation'.

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4 min read
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One eccentric uber rich man (you ever wonder why the word eccentric is so often used for rich people in films?) invites his closest inner circle to a vacation to his secluded island.

From the way the friends must decode puzzles to open the invitation to everything we see about this character, Miles Bron, we know that he is positioned as a genius. That is the premise of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.

'Glass Onion' explores the class divide in a similar satirical vein as films like 'The Menu' and 'The Invitation'.

A still from Glass Onion.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

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So, when he uses words like ‘inbreathiate’ and pitches ideas like ‘Kid = NFT’, it’s easy to assume that you perhaps aren’t smart enough to understand his genius. In that sense, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery by Rian Johnson is smart writing.

As a thriller and a detective mystery (courtesy Daniel Craig’s charming Benoit Blanc), the film is an even better experience than its predecessor, Knives Out.

Furthermore, Glass Onion is another film that explores the class divide in a similar satirical vein as films like The Menu, The Invitation, and Ready or Not. The class divide and the class war were some of the top go-to themes for thrillers in 2019 and the years that followed (Parasite won Best Picture at the 92nd Academy Awards).

'Glass Onion' explores the class divide in a similar satirical vein as films like 'The Menu' and 'The Invitation'.

A still from Parasite.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

2021 and 2022 have been the years of films that move beyond the adage ‘eat the rich’ and explore the idea of the working class outsmarting the rich. Films like Parasite, The Platform, and even Joker, posit the idea that the working class attempting to rise in the ranks of social hierarchy isn’t a one-shot solution to class divide.

All the films mentioned above had a 'vertical' climb; either metaphorically or clearly visible on screen.

The platform in question had an actual vertical descent marking how people in the upper levels disregarded the lives on the ones situated below, even with the knowledge that they could someday be in their place.

'Glass Onion' explores the class divide in a similar satirical vein as films like 'The Menu' and 'The Invitation'.

A still from The Platform.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

However, films like Glass Onion (that are much less dark), challenge the concept of ‘skill’ - now the setting is less vertical and more empty expanse and covered in mazes. It alienates anyone who doesn't belong to the world of the rich, to put it simply.

To the point where Miles Bron doesn't even bother to remember Peg's name.

A long-used, outdated distinction between labour was ‘skilled’ vs "unskilled"—it was decided on the basis of a person’s power in a labour market rather than actual skill.

In film, that idea evolved to somehow signify that rich automatically translated to genius. Glass Onion challenges that idea by pitting Benoit Blanc and Andi (Janelle Monáe) against Miles.
'Glass Onion' explores the class divide in a similar satirical vein as films like 'The Menu' and 'The Invitation'.

Daniel Craig and Janelle Monáe in a still from Glass Onion.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

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The Menu follows the same concept by pitting the chef Julian Slowik against the rich guests he has invited and, in turn, pitting Slowik against Margot or Erin (Anya Taylor-Joy). The Menu satirizes the pretentious nature of the guests and how detached they are from reality.

So does Glass Onion.

'Glass Onion' explores the class divide in a similar satirical vein as films like 'The Menu' and 'The Invitation'.

A still from The Menu.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

The rich and powerful feel comfortable wielding their power over everyone else and don’t view the human cost of their actions as actual consequences. In Glass Onion, Kate Hudson as Birdie Jay is a politically incorrect entrepreneur whose problematic tweets affect her assistant more than her. Duke Cody (Dave Bautista) is a men’s rights activist who nobody agrees with but still hangs out with because his views don’t have any tangible effect on their lives.

Miles Bron is, above all else, their safety net.

In each of these films, the person who feels out of place in the film’s setting – mostly because the setting is usually a sprawling villa or a mansion in the middle of nowhere with ostentatious things present all around – outsmarts almost everyone else. This proposes the idea that a university degree or wads of cash isn’t the same as ‘skill’ or intelligence.

Because, at the end of the day, there is no thing as an ‘unskilled’ worker. And when society is structured for the rich and the privileged, the others aren’t left behind because they’re ‘lazy’ or lack the ability to succeed, it’s because of a sinister class divide that is too much for just one person to destroy.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Joker   Knives Out 

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