[Editor’s note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a PhD in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]
Dear Dr. Steve,
Maya Angelou once said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
But with Elon Musk the picture seems to be changing. Most of us figured out a while ago that he does not fit the savvy billionaire tech wizard role once claimed for him. But lately he seems to be spiralling below even our lowered expectations.
Is Musk really the far-right fanatic he now appears to be?
It will probably not surprise you to learn that Elon Musk is a fan of The Matrix. It seems Musk took the red pill and now he's puking his bright red guts out. “My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci,” he tweeted Sunday, following it up with an attack on those who, in his words, “force their pronouns upon others.” (One of Musk's daughters is transgender.) On Monday he tweeted, “The woke mind virus is either defeated or nothing else matters.”
Musk has been on a roll, like a self-driving vehicle that plunges through a mountain guardrail. Musk is on a roll like a two-week old Arby's beef-and-cheddar left under the back seat. He has been promoting a weak exposé of Twitter “secrets,” painting as sinister a series of actions that essentially amount to responsible content moderation. As scandals go, the so-called “Twitter Files” make Hunter Biden's laptop look like Watergate. Musk also recently resurrected his go-to move of accusing critics of pedophilia. Among other public disputes he argued with his ex-wife Justine about just who was holding their child as the infant died — surely one of the most macabre custody battles in history.
On Sunday Musk was brought onstage at a San Francisco performance by comedian Dave Chappelle. Apparently Chappelle thought it would be a good idea to introduce Musk in a liberal city full off laid-off Silicon Valley employees. Good thinking, Dave. It was like letting Stephen King hire your birthday clown. Musk was booed by many in the crowd. To be fair we don't know exactly why they were booing — with over 1.16 million Tesla recalls so far this year, some in the audience may have seen it as their best shot at reaching customer service.
Elon Musk — he's like Donald Trump, but with money. Mind you, Musk seems hell bent on emulating not just the Donald's politics but his business trajectory too. Twitter is leaking ad revenue as fast as it loses users and the only thing dropping faster than Musk's reputation is Tesla stock.
So who's the real Musk? It's not as though he ever went clubbing with AOC but Musk has donated money to Democrats and once called himself a Democrat. The man even hosted Saturday Night Live (as did Trump). That won't happen again until Musk buys the show and pays for Ted Cruz and Marjorie Taylor Greene to take improv classes.
Could Musk simply be showing his roots? Most of us are nostalgic for the good old days of our youth — the best movies, the best music, what you took in as a teenager. Musk was born in Pretoria in 1971. He lived in apartheid South Africa till he was 18. Is it so far-fetched to think that the golden era he might yearn for lives under a canopy of brutal, state-enforced white supremacy?
Or is there something else at work? Trump/Musk parallels have been multiplying. Both have leveraged America's fascination with obscene wealth. Both eventually reached a level where their carefully cultivated images as genius tycoons were smashed by reality — Trump's by his White House buffoonery, Musk's by his bumbling with Twitter. Both are attention-seekers. Going on SNL is an attempt to get some hip cred but when that fails, what's an insecure, performative wealth celebrity to do? Go where the love is. Trump will do nothing to alienate the right-wing nutjobs who support him most fiercely, and Musk seems to be following the same path. If you're desperate for validation there is one crowd that offers it up for just 14 words.
Strange that Musk would commit so much effort to self-driving Teslas, only to take the wheel of Twitter and drive it off a cliff. But then, you don't pay $44 billion for the world's biggest megaphone because you crunched the numbers.
Heaven save us all from the needy rich. Our next big technological breakthrough ought to be lifelike robots that will hug wealthy children and stick their drawings on the fridge. The fate of humanity may depend on it.