How the Internet Turned on Elon Musk

Whatever, the man is certainly eccentric. He appeared on “The Joe Rogan Podcast” and took one annoying looking hit of a lacing cigar that a a thousand memes. (The SEC fined him $ 20 million for joking a tweet a month earlier saying he would take Tesla privately once the stock price hit. Wait for that … $ 420.) jealous vengeance against a diving expert who advised the Thai cave rescue operation in 2018. He started dating influential cool-girl synth pop star Grimes, which enraged her Bernie-loving young fan base. They had one child and named him “X Æ A-12”. (It is pronounced as if it were written.)

Coupled with his apologetic commitment to the free market and association with right-wing figures like Kanye West and Joe Rogan, incidents like this have made him a dependable punching bag for the Culture War. But Musk is neither the first controversial SNL host nor the most politically charged – Donald Trump himself has hosted twice, once as a presidential candidate. In the early 1990s, a residency of the misogynistic shock comedian Andrew Dice Clay led to a boycott of (and the eventual departure of) actress Nora Dunn. But Clay and Trump, especially provocative entertainers, have far more in common than Musk, an honest engineer, aspiring space colonist, and the second richest man in the world. It’s far stranger to have Musk join the show, as if Carl Icahn or Steve Jobs were suddenly being tapped as the host of “American Idol”. Perplexity seems a more appropriate response than outrage.

And yet, the largest institutions in both comedy and the media are disproportionately young, urban and progressive. Since 2016, through the relentless optimization of Trump and a series of occasional changes, SNL has firmly established itself in the firmament of liberal late-night television bizarre and serious political statements. Despite SNL’s eternal thirst for enthusiasm, Reaching out to an Ozymandias-like capitalist like Musk would have been an awkward thing even in the cooler pre-Trump atmosphere. (Of course, it didn’t help that he contacted Twitter immediately after the announcement of his hosting appearance and the idea of ​​a presumably mocking sketch about “James Bond woke up. ”)

While mainstream comedy is increasingly plagued by concerns about justice, representation and “punching up” or “punching up” or “punching down”, SNL occasionally reveals its origins in the more anarchic world of showbiz after Watergate in the 1970s. Given that legacy, raising Musk is simply the price of doing business – that is, staying in the headlines like the ones featured in this story.

The despicable musk that inspires from the left is uniquely intense and personal, much like the one directed at its techno-optimists in the Democratic Party Andrew Yang and Pete Buttigieg. Musk shares their main sin: that of flinchan ignorance or unwillingness to recognize the taste makers who define pop culture at the highest level – which increasingly includes political positions such as the abolition of the police or the massive redistribution of wealth. Musk has stubbornly subscribed to a brazen and vague tech bro libertarianism that resonated with the cultural elites as early as 2011 and appears to be completely in decline in the world by 2021.

Musk’s arch as a public figure is a good lesson in how and where the lines of battle of our current cultural wars have been drawn.

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Before assessing its cultural impact or statusIt is worth asking: what is Elon Musk actually doing?

When Musk first came to the United States from his native South Africa (via Canada) in the early 1990s, he was like a bunch of other young tech geeks trying to make it into Silicon Valley in the early days of the World Wide Web. An early success with an Internet city guide start-up led to the founding of “X.com”, one of the first online banks with federal insurance, which eventually led to a merger with competitor Confinity, which Peter Thiel himself co-founded increase Direct more liberal antagonist than Musk himself.

Confinity had a money transfer service that you may have heard of: PayPal. Both Musk and Thiel are members of a cohort called the PayPal Mafia, men who used their money and connections from the service to start businesses like YouTube, Yelp and LinkedIn. After holding a series of musical chairs, Musk left the company in 2000 and eventually received more than $ 100 million in payout. This helped him found the two companies he is still best suited for in the early to mid-2000s, in the pioneering electric car company Tesla and SpaceX, the rocket, satellite and aerospace maker.

But Musk made a distinctly different cultural figure than other 21st Century tech tycoons like Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos. While Bezos brought us the same day delivery of cat food and laundry detergent, and Zuck developed a forum for meeting fellow Ravenclaw Clinton supporters in Peoria, Illinois (CLOSED GROUP NO LURKERS), Musk’s investments are literally capital – required construction and Manufacturing on a large scale while we look ahead, not backwards like so many of those who hope to re-industrialize our increasingly service-oriented economy.

Some of the anger Musk deserves is serious. Black workers at Tesla accused the company of a culture of racism. Various investigations showed unsafe conditions Teslas has had a number of high-profile experiences in the company’s futuristic, highly automated factories security Incidents that has deepened the perception of Musk as an angular Flim-Flam artist. Critics have also accused him of hypocrisy for his relentless cheerleading Cryptocurrencywhose energy-intensive production could undermine Tesla’s supposedly green mission. ((Find studies Cryptocurrency mining, which is responsible for a tiny fraction of annual carbon emissions.)

It’s about him too mad online fan basewho treats every affront to the superman they have chosen as personal and trolls. His fame is tailored to mess the minds of his critics: a futurist whose cultural attitudes have gotten stuck in the past; a tech genius who tweets (often, nonsense) in the unpredictable style of a non-digital native speaker; A guy hanging out with Joe Rogan but “super cheeredAbout the Biden climate protection agenda. As an inside columnist, Josh Barro pointed out Amid the initial outcry over his SNL demeanor, Musk’s rude demeanor and embrace of market capitalism often blind his liberal critics to how his fundamental mission of scientific and environmental advancement perfectly aligns with theirs.

These contradictions, along with his cultural transgressions and alleged ethical flaws as a capitalist, make him a perfect target for the hyper-progressive, image-conscious social media experts who shape our media landscape.

It is a position shared by a considerable number of Americans, but a decided minority of them. According to a recent Vox / Data for Progress survey“68 percent [of Americans] say they disagree that it is immoral for a society to turn people into billionaires. “They’re especially warm and fuzzy, as it turns out when it comes to Musk himself: His net public approval rating is +27 points – behind Bill Gates, but ahead of Bezos and Zuckerberg – and 52 percent of Democrats see him cheap.

How confusing SNL’s decision to invite him was depends on your perspective. Within the bubble that inhabits and largely embodies the show, it was a betrayal of the rationale. Outside, it was just another celeb message about the nifty eccentric building rockets and tweets all day Dogecoin.

Musk’s actual appearance on SNL, while potentially uncomfortable, is likely to result in much less heat and light than the controversy surrounding it. In their definitive oral story for the show, “Live From New York,” Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller quote series creator Lorne Michaels on the Dice Clay controversy. “You don’t invite anyone into your house to piss on them,” Michaels said. “[T]His person has put himself in your hands, she is completely vulnerable. The show only works if it looks good. So why would you have someone you don’t like? What – because you need the reviews? That does not make sense. “

And this is how Musk is treated by the cast, who could not hide their contempt for his presence – none of them chose to follow in Nora Dunn’s footsteps and exclude themselves from the principle. The controversy over its appearance shows the extent of the unrepresentative filter bubbles Americans have been able to empathize with on social media, not least those at SNL who are among Musk’s critics. You to repeat that apocryphal Pauline Kael, commenting on the Nixon voters, probably doesn’t have a representative number of people in their life who see him not as a uniquely malicious entity, but as an entertaining futurist with known personal flaws.

In that light, Musk could find himself in an unusual role when he takes the stage at 30 Rock to deliver the show’s opening monologue: that of an envoy from reality.

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