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How the Internet turned Elon Musk on

Whatever, the man is certainly eccentric. He appeared on “The Joe Rogan Podcast” and took an annoying looking hit from a lace-up cigar and started a thousand memes. (The SEC fined him $ 20 million for joking a tweet a month earlier that he would take Tesla private once the stock price hit. Wait for it … $ 420.) He ran one jealous revenge against a diving expert who advised the Thai cave rescue operation in 2018. He started dating influential cool-girl synth pop star Grimes, infuriating 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 nor the politically most heavily burdened SNL host – Donald Trump himself has hosted twice as a presidential candidate once. In the early 1990s, a residency of the misogynist 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 occasionally bizarre and serious political statements, SNL has firmly anchored itself in the firmament of liberal late-night television. 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 atmosphere of pre-Trump times. (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 equity, 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, it’s simply the price of doing business to make Musk – 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 way it addresses its techno-optimists in the Democratic Party like Andrew Yang and Pete Buttigieg. Musk shares her main sin: that of horror, ignorance, or unwillingness to recognize the taste makers who define pop culture at its best – which increasingly includes political positions like 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 elite as early as 2011 and appears to be in complete 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.


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 “”, one of the first online banks with federal insurance, which eventually led to a merger with competitor Confinity, which Peter Thiel himself co-founded more direct 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. That helped him create the two companies he’s still best known for: Tesla, the pioneering electric car company, 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 capital in the true sense of the word – required construction and manufacturing on a large scale as we look forward, not backward, 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 revealed unsafe conditions in the company’s futuristic, highly automated factories, and Teslas has witnessed a number of high-profile security incidents that have deepened Musk’s perception as a pioneering Flim-Flam artist. Critics have also accused him of hypocrisy for relentlessly cheerleading the cryptocurrency, the energy-intensive production of which could undermine Tesla’s supposedly green mission. (Studies have shown that cryptocurrency mining is responsible for a tiny fraction of annual carbon emissions.)

It’s also about his rabid online fan base who treats any affront to the superhuman they choose as personal and trolling in their way. His notoriety is tailor-made to confuse 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 who hangs out with Joe Rogan but is “super excited” about the Biden climate change 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 blinds his liberal critics for how his fundamental mission of scientific and environmental progress 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 poll by Vox / Data for Progress, “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 decided 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 at SNL, which are among Musk’s critics. To reiterate Pauline Kael’s apocryphal comment on the Nixon voters, they likely do not have a representative number of people in their life who do not view him 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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