Explained: How Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery critiques Elon Musk and Silicon Valley tech bros
A tech billionaire who doesn’t own a mobile phone and faxes his employees in the middle of the night, has insane whims which he asks his employees to fulfill, and makes unreasonable demands asking others to ‘make it work’. Some of his ideas – ‘Uber for biospheres’, ‘Crypto for kids’, ‘AI for dogs’ and of course, using an alternative hydrogen-based fuel despite some of his employees raising concerns about its safety. If you have been following the nail-biting drama following Twitter’s takeover in the last couple months, you know that the above traits scream Elon Musk. The sequel to 2019 mystery film Knives Out, Glass Onion starring Daniel Craig, produces a sharp and brutal critique of Musk-like billionaires who run Silicon Valley through a fictional billionaire Miles Bron. They think they are here to change humanity, call themselves geniuses and act like their mere existence is a favour to the rest of us. Glass Onion does a rather good job at exposing just how hollow and misinformed such self-proclaimed geniuses are. Their tech often lacks innovation and they are also hand-in-glove with the American far-right, financing and bailing out some of the disgraced celebrities and politicians, giving them a second lease of life.
Take Duke for instance – a men’s rights streamer with over 1 million followers on Twitch who wants ‘breast-ifcation’ of America (hello, Andrew Tate?). Duke lives with his mom in the basement and is dating Whiskey, his ditzy white girlfriend who appears on camera every now and then to say – ‘sorry feminists’. It is later revealed that Duke is using Whiskey to seduce Miles to get a show on Alpha News (the fictional equivalent of the American Fox News). Connecticut governor Claire Debella , who doesn’t mask up while receiving packages and claims to be a hardliner on climate change, has her campaign funded by Miles. Disgraced fashion designer Birdie Jay, who has restricted Twitter access owing to her tendency to tweet out ethnic slurs, is also invited to Miles murder mystery party at his private island. When she once did blackface at a Halloween party (which she claims was ‘a tribute to Beyonce but no one got it’) no one would touch Birdie ‘with a ten-feet pole’ (in Andi’s words). It was Miles who then showed up as an angel investor in Birdie’s clothing line, Sweenie Pants, bailing her out. It is only when the murder mystery unravels that it is revealed why the party attendees swore their loyalty to Miles and as Andi (Helen) says, ‘are hanging by his golden titties’. It is Miles who bailed them out with the use of his money, well-placed sources and power with the elected officials when they were cancelled due to their ignorant, right-leaning views.
Life Imitates Art: Musk and Miles
Much like Miles, Musk too has many strategically placed allies across the fashion industry, media and politics. Like Lionel, the head scientist of Alpha, there are a few African Americans who support Musk – the likes of comic Dave Chapelle who invited Musk to one of his standup shows shortly after the Twitter fiasco this year. Musk was subsequently booed off stage by Dave’s fans. Fashion designer Birdie has an eerie similarity with Kanye West, rapper and fashion mogul, who, much like the fictional Birdie, made headlines this year due to his anti-semitic tweets. As for Claire, in November 2022, Musk went on record sharing that he will support Florida governor DeSantis if he runs for President in 2024. According to a report in Reuters, DeSantis’ governorship has been marked by his rejection of pandemic-related health restrictions, passage of a law limiting discussion of LGBTQ issues in schools, and a feud with Walt Disney. While Musk hasn’t publicly supported a men’s rights streamer so far, he has been vocal about his views on men’s rights. Life seems to be imitating art too closely if one were to connect the dots and figure out how most of Miles’ allies have their real-life counterparts who support Musk in his dangerous pursuits.
Musk’s Twitter Shitstorm: Glass Onion Edition
It is important to mention here that Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery was filmed in June 2021 in Greece, way before Musk took over Twitter. For a film which was set out to satirize and critique the Silicon Valley tech bros and the blinded, inflated egos of white men in tech, Glass Onion predicted the Twitter shitstorm that followed Musk’s takeover down to the last detail. Much like Miles who has insane whims and expects his employees to ‘make it work’ regardless of how unreasonable it sounds, Musk too forced Twitter employees to roll out Twitter Blue – Twitter’s premium subscription service which gave out blue ticks for $8/month. Images of employees sleeping on the floor of Twitter’s office surfaced on social media as they worked day and night to meet Musk’s unreasonable deadline. Musk, of course, fired the employees who dared to question him or his vision. One engineer was fired by Musk via a tweet for raising valid questions about Twitter’s code. Much like Miles, who claims he is a visionary and will change the world for the better, Musk too is deluded that he is bringing a positive change in the world but all he is doing is throwing money at companies, making ruthless policy decisions and making his employees work overtime to meet deadlines.
A prominent sub -plot in the film revolves around Miles developing an alternative Hydrogen-based fuel which he feels will usher in ‘clean energy’ but as pointed out by Lionel and Claire, the fuel is prone to explosions. Does this ring a bell? Remember Musk giving out paid blue ticks despite multiple warnings by both users on Twitter and Twitter’s internal policy teams that it might lead to an increase in the risk of impersonation? Musk rolled out paid blue ticks and quickly rolled them back as Twitter users impersonated CocaCola, Pepsi and several other brands leading to loss of revenue for advertisers. For a film that was made a year ago, Glass Onion, much like the TV show Simpsons, accurately predicted how Elon Musk made Twitter a free -for-all hellscape. The similarities between Miles and Musk are too many to be a mere coincidence.
Edward Norton. Who plays Miles, said of his character: “Miles Bron has never had an original idea at any phase of his life — that’s a good summation of him.” All in all, Glass Onion showed that tech billionaires like Musk are perhaps not the ‘insane’ geniuses the world assumes they are. Perhaps, they are just ruthless people who would go to any extent to make money as they push people down in an effort to climb up the ladder.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is streaming now on Netflix.
Deepansh Duggal is an entertainment, pop-culture and trends writer based in New Delhi. He specializes in op-eds based on the socio-political and gender issues in the world of entertainment and showbiz. He also writes explainers and occasionally reviews shows in the OTT space. He tweets at @Deepansh75.