Netflix knows what every web marketing team comes to understand - good content is hard to find. Better to double down on winners than risk close to the same development money (or time and resources) on a potential loser. That's why Netflix paid $450M for two Knives Out sequels, and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is a hit and fun watch with a 93% Rotten Tomatoes audience score showing why betting on winners should be every web marketing teams goal in 2023.
My Glass Onion Movie Review and Tech Lesson come in two sections, so those who have yet to watch the second Knives Out Mystery can skip spoilers included in my review to focus on the crucial tech lesson director Rian Johnson's movie shares.
Even if you don't love Hercule Poirot on PBS Masterpiece or John Hawkesworth and Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Homes (Amazon), you will enjoy the twists and turns of the latest Knives Out Mystery because the not subtle social commentary feels accurate and inventive. In contrast, the murder mystery is a fast-moving Rubix cube with a mid-movie reboot that moves the plot to another level of intrigue and joyful complexity.
The movie looks as rich, textured, and tacky as billionaire Myles Bron's private island. Ed Norton plays Bron wonderfully, seductively, and accurately against type. However, having Norton play a self-obsessed idiot is casting at its most brilliant.
Norton doesn't usually play idiots. Myles's stupidity, present from Miles dropping Paul McCarthy's guitar on the sand of his robot-infested island, creates the Glass Onion's reality distortion field. At one time or another, we've all experienced and supported such distortions, such elevations of ordinary, lucky, or regular people to superhero status.
We project backward. If someone makes a fortune, we believe in inherent genius. So we buy the rogue billionaire archetype despite little evidence such a thing is possible or has ever existed, Buffet and Munger being exceptions proving the rule.
Norton's Miles is no Buffet. Miles's representation of how money can stage set genius begins with a wooden box puzzle. Miles's "disruptor" friends, mainly of the YouTube influencer personality types from Leslie Odom Jr.'s scientist Lionel to Kate Hudson's vacuous Birdie, receive intricate wooden puzzles.
Sh*tHeads all Janelle Monáe's Andi accurately shares in her everything we've just seen has a different meaning flashback middle of the movie. Andi's dramatic right-turn flashback explains why Daniel Craig's brilliant Benoit Blanc, the modern Holmes, and Poirot cons his way onto a billionaire's island. Blanc's rapid dismantling of Miles' "murder mystery" is a masterful foreshadowing of his Holmes and Poirot-like deductive skills, but seduction calls us all. Even Craig's Blanc sees but doesn't fully understand, reminding me of another favorite detective series - Jonathan Creek.
The 1997-2016 BBC Series magician assistant Creek detecting murderous sleight of hand. This seeing and not seeing is the perfect lead into the Glass Onion's Tech Lesson.
Miles is a walking example of the Dunning-Kruger effect:
The Dunning-Kruger effect occurs when a person's lack of knowledge and skills in a particular area causes them to overestimate their competence. By contrast, this effect also causes those who excel in a given area to think the task is simple for everyone and underestimate their relative abilities.
We learn in Jeff Koons-like fashion Miles pays others to create his art. A toy maker crafted the wooden puzzle boxes, the murder mystery is scripted, and Andi created his company's foundational document hidden in the Innovator's Dilemma. Miles, like Koons, isn't an outright fraud, but he is no rogue billionaire genius.
Clayton Christensen's influential 1997 book The Innovator's Dilema: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail details how established companies lose market share to disruptive startups willing to serve low-value customers while incrementally dismantling established brands. The book carries dual meanings in Glass Onion. Myles and Andi's company was disruptive, but their idea for hydrogen power appears dangerous and not well planned or executed.
As marketing and tech geeks we search for the next big thing, so all marketers experience both Dunning-Kruger effects - we overestimate and underestimate our competence. The web's signals are always mixed and confusing, mainly because marketing geeks are humans. Who doesn't want to own success fully while orphaning failure?
I've had chronic leukemia for seventeen years, and that experience reminds me of my digital marketing experience. I've had five fun rounds of chemo. Just about the time I forget I have cancer, usually about four years after my last treatment, a golf-ball-sized lymph node reminds me of mortality and other life lessons too easy to forget.
Nobody knows anything. Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what's going to work. Every time out, it's a guess and, if you're lucky, an educated one. William Goldman, Adventures in the Screen Trade
After one of your digital marketing ideas wins support or you sell millions at your ecommerce store, there's a tendency to forget screenwriter William Goldman's always true statement. When riding high on Dunning-Kruger, we over estimating our competence. I've been there and done that several times. I've learned the hard way that when I think I know something, the world, Google, or other things come to pop into my swollen head to remind me how easy it is to see but not see, to misinterpret, and assign importance or value where little or fewer lives.
Life should be a bold adventure, so walk softly into your big plans for 2023 and remember the Glass Onion's tech lessons - don't be a jerk and stay humble enough to want to learn something tomorrow you don't know today.
While I don't love the name of this YouTube channel, they create solid content. Here is Pillar of Garbage's take on Glass Onion, the tech reality distortion field, and the nature of influence. Spoilers ahead.
Watch Glass Onion: A Knives out Mystery on Netflix.
Jonathan Creek on IMBD.
Poirot Illustrationby Saurabh Singh from