The fragility of the mega-rich, according to “Glass Onion” and “The White Lotus”

“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” (Netflix)

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery on multiple occasions he practically asks his audience to dissect the images of his title. Although “Glass Onion” literally refers to a huge glass pavilion on billionaire Miles Bron’s private island, it is also a metaphor for the thin-skinned man, whose carefully constructed personality is so delicate that it could shatter at any moment.

Interpreted by Edward NortonMiles is perhaps the biggest target of Glass Onionthe second installment of a franchise released by the whodunit 2019 rian johnson Knives Out, which follows suit with a timely critique of the upper class. While the original film satirized Trump-era politics, Glass Onion, now streaming on Netflix, comes towards the end of a year fraught with billionaire fatigue. The aversion to the mega-rich seeped into all kinds of entertainment, even that produced by the major studios.

Class satire is nothing new in Hollywood, but the need to target tech billionaires fits right in with the industry’s recent narrative obsession with con artists. Consider the specific resonance of a character like Miles, whose famed flair for innovation quickly turns out to be a fluke. The film draws clear lines from him to real life figures like Elon Muskwhose recent tenure as CEO of Twitter has been chaotic to say the least, or the guru of cryptocurrencies Sam Bankman-Friedaccused of fraud after the rapid disappearance of his company FTX.

Is there something in the air? Maybe it’s the stench of the “billionaires’ vibration shift,” as he recently put it. voxco-opting a tongue-in-cheek term popularized earlier this year by the magazine New York describing a substantial change in cultural trends or attitudes. “It has been the year in which billionaires have shown who they really are,” reads the subtitle of the article in voxwhich at one point links to an article by Atlantic September in which it is bluntly stated: “Elon Musk’s texts debunk the myth of the technological genius.”

And with that echo of breaking glass, we return to Miles and his fragile ego. He invites an unlikely group of friends to his island, including the Governor of Connecticut (Kathryn Hahn) and a dim-witted socialite (Kate Hudson) who made a lot of money selling tracksuits. Notable attendees are Cassandra “Andi” Brand (Janelle Monae)—Miles’s estranged associate, the Eduardo Saverin of his mark zuckerberg– and Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), who receives a surprise invitation.

The team comes together for a weekend-long game of murder mysteries in which Miles is cast as the victim, like a version of Cluedo in which Mr. Boddy watches all the detective work firsthand. His friends accept the premise, but recognize that things are rarely that simple with someone like Miles. Your relationships are transactional; His money feeds his individual efforts, so what does he want from them?

Edward Norton puts himself in the shoes of a technological mogul in "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery" (Netflix)
Edward Norton puts himself in the shoes of a technological mogul in “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” (Netflix)

It’s a good question, another version of which is repeated in the final season of The White Lotus of HBO, which aired its finale earlier this month. Created by Mike White, the anthology series is set in different White Lotus resorts around the world. Among the Sicilian vacationers in the second season are businessman Cameron Sullivan (Theo James), who came from money and now works in the rapacious world of investing, and his college roommate Ethan Spiller (Will Sharpe), who has just sold his company for a rather large sum.

White’s class critique goes beyond discipline; it is unclear what kind of work Ethan does, only that he has provided him with enough wealth to convince Cameron and his wife, Daphne (meghann fahy), that they have enough in common with Ethan and his wife, Harper (aubrey square), as if to insist that they join them in Italy. Harper acts from the beginning as an audience double, an employment lawyer who elicits blank stares from Cameron and Daphne when she suggests that they are all experiencing “the end of the world.”

He asks Ethan, over and over again: Why did Cameron invite you? What is it that he wants?

The answer probably has something to do with money. But more so than the first season, which explores the structural inequalities between wealthy beach-goers and the native Hawaiians who staff the resort, “The White Lotus” deals much more with the psychology involved. What is it about Cameron that leads him to constantly put down Ethan, who has always outsmarted his most popular friend? How do insecurities manifest in a friendship between two grown men?

These self-esteem issues can affect any type of relationship, but the show calls for eating the rich and ambitious alive. In an episode of Fresh Air earlier this month, White told the host Terry Gross that this latest season broadly suggests that “when you’re rich and you don’t have situational problems that have to do with money, then your problems become existential.”

“You have all the tools to figure out your life, and you can’t figure out your life,” White said, adding that “if you’re in paradise and you feel like you’re missing something or you’re gloomy or tortured, you know it’s not the environmental nature of what’s going on. what is happening –it is something in you–”.

"The White Lotus" (HBO)
“The White Lotus” (HBO)

His words are reminiscent of the deeply taciturn nature of, for example, Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong), the fallen “boy number 1″ of the ruthless family of media moguls pictured in succession, from HBO. They also ring true in classist satire sadness trianglefrom the Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlundwhich addresses similar truths about how wealth works in the Western world.

The conflict arises for the first time in sadness triangle in a restaurant where the couture models Yaya (Charlbi Dean) and Carl (Harris Dickinson) fight over who should pay for their dinner. It’s more about principles than money itself, Carl insists at the start of a discussion that comes to encompass the politics of sexuality as well. Later in the film, under circumstances where money can no longer serve as a distraction, it becomes apparent just how aimless Granny and Carl are without it.

What do the mega-rich really want? For Miles Bron, the answer is the same for his close friends and the general public: unwavering acceptance and adoration. As the mystery of the real and unexpected murder of Glass Onion, Monáe and Craig’s characters are also peeling back the layers of Miles. The biggest revelation turns out not to be the identity of the killer, or even the methodology involved, but how easy it is to shatter the illusions of personal grandeur that often accompany wealth.

Source: The Washington Post

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The fragility of the mega-rich, according to “Glass Onion” and “The White Lotus”

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