‘Glass Onion’ has a lot to say about Elon Musk

By | December 23, 2022

Things are dumber than they seem in Glass Onion. So, so…much dumber. (Consider this your spoiler warning.)

Miles Bron presents himself as tech boy genius. The kind of guy who calls himself a visionary and talks about the power of disruption. But it’s a veneer, all sizzle and no steak. The dude simply steals ideas and bullies the people below him. He’s a billionaire who’s convinced he knows everything while hardly knowing anything at all.

Sound familiar?

It might just make you think about that guy who’s currently running Twitter. If we’ve learned anything from this nonsensical saga, it’s that Elon Musk might not be the genius he’s spent years stylizing himself into. Sure, one of his companies makes rockets, but you forget that when Musk regularly acts like a red-pilled billionaire completely out of touch with reality. It’s shocking how prophetic Glass Onion what is that regard. The movie lays bare the truth that our billionaire overlords might not be who they want us to think they are.

Which brings us back to Miles Bron, the tech billionaire played by Edward Norton. Said Norton of his character: “Miles Bron has never had an original idea at any phase of his life — that’s a good summation of him.”

They really hammer that point home during the movie and, well, it’s hard not to see some Muskian similarities — even down to the minutia. Bron faxes nonsensical business ideas to his employees, similar to how Musk governs Twitter — even firing people — via half-considered tweets. Bron sets impossible deadlines for tasks he doesn’t even understand, which is sort of like Musk and his strange code reviews. Bron’s got faux-liberal beliefs, like clean energy (more on that later), while people around him realize exactly how red-pilled he is (it’s literally called out). That’s Musk.

glass onions, which drops on Netflix on Friday following a limited run in theaters, was filmed way before any of Musk’s recent Twitter shenanigans. And it relates to current events so well, I’d argue, the film understands someone like Musk at his core. There are too many small similarities between Musk and Bron to list. And I tried to scrawl as many of them in my notebook as I could while watching the film in dark theater. (Not for nothing, it is difficult to take legible notes in a movie theater.) You can see people posting on twitter – where else – that they saw the similarities as well.

But what’s more important is what the film has to say about people like Bron and Musk. Norton’s character is a one-for-one to Musk, but Bron also has a bit of that faux hippie-dippie thing that Twitter’s previous boss, Jack Dorsey, flirts with.

No, what matters is the message. And for that, we have to go to the end of the film.

Bron is a total fucking idiot. He stole the idea for his entire business. He killed Andi (Janelle Monáe), and covered it up. He killed Duke (Dave Bautista), and covered it up. He gets away with it because people think he can’t possibly be that dumb.

Benoit BlancDaniel Craig says it all:

“His dock doesn’t float. His wonder fuel is a disaster. His grasp of disruption theory is remedial at best. He didn’t design the puzzle boxes. He didn’t write the mystery. Et voila! It all adds up. The key to this entire case. And it was staring me right in the face. Like everyone in the world, I assumed Miles Bron was a complicated genius. But why? Look into the clear center of this glass onion. Miles Bron is an idiot !”

Musk has stylized himself as Tony Stark and has an army of fanboys and sycophants for it. And, for some reason, having a lot of money is believed to be a marker of supreme intelligence. Musk has landed rockets and built cars and yadda yadda yadda — he hasn’t done any of that! He took credit for doing it. Bron didn’t come up with any of the good ideas in his business either, and he sure as hell didn’t build anything himself.

Similarly, Musk bullied his way into power other formed his massive wealth off valuations of his companies. Bron describes this disruption process with, of course, a half-assed understanding of disruption theory. But in some ways, it’s the truer description. To accumulate that much wealth and power, ye have to be willing to be a dick and break the rules.

Says Bron of how disruption works:

“That’s the place where you have to look within yourself, and ask: Am I the kind of person who will keep going? Will you break more things? Break bigger things? Be willing to break the thing that nobody wants you to break? Because At that point, people are not going to be on your side. They’re going to call you crazy. They’re gonna say you’re a bully. They’re gonna tell you to stop. Even your partner will say you need to stop. Because as it turns out, nobody wants you to break the system itself. But that is what true disruption is, and that is what units all of us. We all got to that line, and crossed it.”

Glass Onion asks how other why we let these billionaires run our lives — how having a bunch of money, or being valued to that end, means you can bully and fake your way through anything. Hell, Bron is willing to risk total destruction to power the world with a dangerous energy source. Yet, folks go along with it because he’s made stupid ideas work before. Musk has made it clear at Twitter, and has shown with his other companiesthat he doesn’t care much about the people who work for him and actually do the things he demands. Musk gets praised for being a visionary and a savvy businessman, while taking credit for everyone else’s work.

That’s how Musk is able to run Twitter while understanding almost nothing about the platform. Like Bron, there is no master plan here. He’s just winging it because he thinks he’s a genius. Because he’s rich and successful, and people twist themselves into knots trying to rebrand his idiocy into a masterstroke. Ah yes, an $8 subscription for a blue check makes sense instead of having advertisers. No, no, no Elon is a free speech absolutist, and sure he bans journalists and reinstates hateful right-wingers but he’s not red-pilled. No, his tunnels for cars make TOTAL sense and wouldn’t be better served than just a subway or city bus. He’s actually doing all this dumb, rightwing stuff because he, uh, wants to save the world from climate change?

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You thought Twitter was bad this year? Just wait for 2023.

Not to get at the core of American capitalism, but if we acknowledge that the people with all the power and money might not be the smartest all the time…then where does that leave our meritocracy? That’s what Bron teaches us about Musk. It’s that if you can scam and claw your way to the top, then you are too big to fail. Because failing would mean acknowledging a few things, like admitting that you didn’t deserve your high perch in the first place, or that things are not fair and some people are just more ruthless than others. And it would mean risking the downriver effects — if this guy is a dumdum…who else is?

Bron represents all the people in power we should question. All the people who, at best, happened to be in the right at the right time. Or, at worse, people who elbowed their way to the top via hook and crook.

Sure, Bron seems to be a Musk stand-in. He certainly comes across as a futurist genius like Musk. In reality, Bron represents all the people in power we should question. All the people who, at best, happened to be in the right at the right time. Or, at worse, people who elbowed their way to the top via hook and crook. Just look at the crypto industry. The entire thing appears to be an MLM Ponzi scheme. It’s not the future of currency like it was sold; it’s scammers sitting on each other’s shoulders in a trench coat.

Glass Onion does a good job of showing how sometimes the “brilliant” folks are just the ones willing to hurt others to climb up the social hierarchy. The only thing the film got wrong, in my eyes, is that Bron faced any consequences at all. His house on fire, the Mona Lisa ruined, he faces a bleak future and serious repercussions for his actions. If only.

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