Viewers Think Rich People Completely Missed the Point of “Saltburn”

By: Alyssa Miller | Published: Feb 01, 2024

Whether you watched “Saltburn” because of the internet’s reactions to the wild moments in the film or because you are a massive fan of writer/director Emerald Fennell’s previous film, “Promising Young Woman,” there is a lot to unpack about the real villain of the film.

From the TikTok videos of people running through their mansions to others drooling over Jacob Elordi’s character Felix, many viewers believe that rich people are missing the point of “Saltburn.”

What is “Saltburn” About?

“Saltburn” is a black comedy about a rich family inviting Oliver (Barry Keoghan) to stay the summer at Saltburn after the discovery of his poor living conditions. As the summer progresses, a series of horrifying events plague Felix’s family.

A wide shot of Saltburn and the lake next to it in "Saltburn"

Source: MGM/YouTube

The film has shocking moments that keep the audience on their toes (the vampire scene, the bathtub scenes, and yes, that final dancing scene at the end), leaving the audience entertained and horrified.

What is the Message of “Saltburn”?

After several films released back-to-back about rich people becoming the victims of their creations, the message in “Saltburn” seems pretty straightforward. It asks us who is worse: a snobby rich family that only offers attention and charity to those who fit their mold or Oliver for shunning his perfect life because of greed.

Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan) sitting at a dining table in "Saltburn"

Source: MGM/YouTube

“Eat the rich” media is the driving force behind “Saltburn,” and it does the genre well. But, once again, some people didn’t understand the message at the end of the film.

The “Saltburn” TikTok Trend

These viewers who missed the message of the film took to TikTok to record themselves  recreating Oliver’s iconic run through the humongous house to Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s “Murder on the Dancefloor.”

A TikTok of a white tie event


These videos show these people flaunting their excessive displays of wealth on the internet, occasionally having friends act like the bodies on the dancefloor.

Why Are Some People Upset by the “Saltburn” Trend

The “Saltburn trend” is fun, there is no doubt about that, but the problem is that the people flaunting their houses seem distasteful given the context of the film.

A TikTok of a woman walking down a hall with many Christmas trees

Source: salasmaria_/TikTok

Many people say that the rich TikTok users are flexing their wealth, implying that it’s “distasteful” for less fortunate people and that Oliver had a middle-class upbringing was a punchline.

It is All a Big Contradiction

What makes the ending so impactful is that Oliver is dancing over the graves of the family that he got rid of for his benefit. Oliver is a “hero,” to an extent. He is the bringer of death to a family that is out of touch with reality and ostracizes those who are not as wealthy as them.

Lady Elspeth Catton (Rosamund Pike) drinking Champaign in "Saltburn"

Source: MGM/YouTube

This trend performed by rich TikTok users is a contradiction that some users are not happy with.


“Saltburn” Writer/Direct Defends the Trend

While Gen Z believes that these TikToks are tone-deaf, Fennel defended the film and the criticism toward those who grew up rich. Fennel told Polygon in November that she considers the slogan of the movie to be: “Lick the rich, suck the rich, and then bite the rich, and then swallow them.”

Emerald Fennell holding an Oscar Statue in front of a yellow background

Source: cocofennell/Instagram

Fennel, who was born and grew up in the British high class, explained that the film is about sympathy as well as a critique of capitalist class conflict.


Does It Matter That People Flaunt Their Lives?

The “Saltburn” TikTok trend is meant to be fun for people who happened to grow up rich. If you interact with this content and feel bothered by it, maybe you side more with Oliver and feel the same sort of jealousy that he had.

Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi) smoking in a window in "Saltburn"

Source: Amazon Prime Video/Instagram

Beyond that, let people enjoy themselves! They are not trying to hurt anyone, so why not let them have fun with a trend that will die out soon?


Another Big “Saltburn” Trend

This wasn’t the only “Saltburn” trend. In fact, over Christmas, many Gen Zers were watching the film with their families. Because “Saltburn” is available on Amazon Prime Video, many were able to watch the shocking film with older generations.

Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan) laying in a field in "Saltburn"

Source: MGM/YouTube

The curiosity about “Saltburn” on social media also helped as many turned to the film for its shock value.


People Watched the Film With Their Families

Many audiences believed that “Saltburn” would share characteristics of “Call Me by Your Name,” but they were gravely wrong. While some generations can sit through the film, the shock will make the entire experience uncomfortable.

The Cast of "Saltburn" on set

Source: Saltburn/Instagram

For some, the experience of watching this film alongside their parents has been so impactful that they’re calling it life-altering, even using the dramatic term “ruined.”


People’s Lives Were “Ruined”

“My recommendation of Saltburn to my parents went down as well as a s*** sandwich,” one user posted on X/Twitter, with another adding: “Saltburn genuinely ruined my life.”

Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi) looking over his shoulder in "Saltburn"

Source: MGM/YouTube

“Saltburn” quickly gained the title of 2023’s wildest movie, with people online discussing the movie to nauseating lengths. Fennel is known to create shocking moments that add to the commentary, and it is those moments that attract attention.


Should You Watch “Saltburn”?

Personally, I don’t believe “Saltburn” is all that crazy, nor do I think the trends are harmful to anyone (but I also watch the AD house tour videos while eating lunch). The entire film’s shock value has been blown out of proportion, but they are satisfying to watch when they finally do happen.

Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi) reading on a roof in "Saltburn"

Source: MGM/YouTube

Should you watch this film with your parents? Probably, not. Instead, I recommend a classic Chuck Norris movie or “The Thanksgiving Text,” which is based on a true mistake that turned into a wonderful tradition.