As 2022 wound down, three of the most talked-about movies seemed to share one very obvious trait: disdain for the wealthy. But as Pat Cassels argues in this critical essay built around The Menu, Glass Onion, and Triangle of Sadness, that’s a facile reading. The root of the rot here isn’t money, but power.

There’s real danger in Musk and our current “age of the petulant oligarch,” as Paul Krugman recently called it. “[T]he top 0.00001 percent’s share of total wealth today is almost 10 times what it was four decades ago,” he writes. “And the immense wealth of the modern super-elite has surely brought a lot of power, including the power to act childishly.” Glass Onion’s Bron would get along fantastically with Triangle’s Marxist captain and Russian capitalist. All three are perfectly willing to get drunk (on power or booze) and dispense half-understood economic axioms as geopolitical truth bombs, even as they steer their boat into dangerous waters in the name of free speech.