Daniel Craig’s Knives Out: Glass Onion character Benoit Blanc is gay. A fact that’s hard to really ignore when the director Rian Johnson, Craig, and Hugh Grant (who plays Benoit’s husband, Phillip) all saying so. But what do the gays think? Aimee Hart, EIC of Gayming Magazine weighs in.
For the most part, loud, secular fan-communities that are keen to follow the Knives Out films — aka Knives Out (2019) and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022) are more than happy to hold up Craig’s delightful, drawling detective as a gay icon. More importantly, they want to see more of Benoit Blanc’s adventures, especially if future sequels include his doting, baker husband.
To put it bluntly: I find myself getting swept away in the possibility of what the future could hold for a gay murder-mystery detective like Benoit Blanc as well. The TikToks, the rambling meta analysis Tumblr posts, the fan-fiction, the fancams, and the idea of a potential crossover with The Muppets (which isn’t happening, by the way) … It feels good to see a movie with a gay protagonist be so cherished.
But what intrigued me the most as a queer viewer of Glass Onion is how the film conveyed Blanc’s sexuality without being overt, and how, afterwards, I personally felt about Craig’s detective as ‘representation.’ Our favorite detective’s portrayal is riddled with both ‘pros’ and ‘cons.’ Craig, as far as we know, is a straight man playing a gay one, and the same can be said for Grant, yet there’s also something charming about both of their performances. Neither are portrayed negatively and, all in all, the film’s not-so-subtle nudges are as delightful as they are funny.
Of course, what I found fun I’ve seen others call ‘queerbaity’ — a term that has so evolved over time with many different meanings depending on who’s saying it, and in what context, that to try and figure out what people mean in regards to Glass Onion being ‘queerbaity’ is nothing short of headache inducing. On a surface level I can see a rational, thought-out argument in how Benoit being a gay man is handled poorly. You never get to see Craig or Grant smooch, for example, and the detective never mentions Phillip is his husband either. It’s barebones and I get how that can be infuriating. Viewers only have to look at Disney’s 15 million attempts of including a single gay character in their works to know that big companies very rarely (and I’d argue never, if I wanted to be spicy) have the LGBTQ+ communities best interests in mind.
Yet with all of the criticism directed at Benoit Blanc being a gay man, there’s something inside me that screams out ‘of course Benoit Blanc is gay! The movie so clearly establishes it, it’s so obvious!’ Even if we totally breeze past Blanc running in the same circles as known queer icons Angela Lansbury and Stephen Sondheim, there are several instances where Blanc rebuffs heavy advances from Kate Hudson’s character Birdie which, alone, isn’t much to really go off on. Men and women can be friends y’know. No, what really sells it is Blanc checking out the goods on men’s right activist Duke (Dave Bautista) and then, later on, spying on character Peg (Jessica Henwick) while hiding behind the bronzed cheeks of a statue. I won’t even mention the gag reflex joke that confirms Blanc is, to quote my terrible, terrible friend, a ‘throat bandit’. Folks trust me when I say that this movie is not even trying to be subtle.
I promise I’m not trying to defend the multi-billion film industry and how it so often sticks to the status quo in regards to queer sexuality. Blanc really is just so obviously gay, a sentiment shared by Rian Johnson. Speaking to Newsweek, the director stated: “I feel like there’s oftentimes, especially with Hollywood movies, this weird dithering like maybe they are maybe they’re not. It’s a fact, [Benoit Blanc is] gay in the movies.” If people say they can’t see it, I can only assume they are trying hard not to.
To go back to my original point on Glass Onion and representation, I genuinely feel for viewers who feel let down in how the queer aspects of this film doesn’t live up to their standards. Glass Onion doesn’t do anything revolutionary with Blanc, people will no doubt still deny that he is gay and live in their own heteronormative bubble, but in my eyes? I’m not that concerned about that. For so long our community has pushed towards legitimacy, for our heterosexual counterparts to treat us as one of them, to see us so plainly that they can’t ignore us anymore. But I think that thinking only constrains us further. Our portrayal doesn’t need to be approved by heteronormative standards, it can just be.