I am not a fanboy.
Musicians, athletes, actors and artists are capable of amazing things, but I find the idea of fandom and hero worship odd. A few life lessons in hypocrisy and being let down by people you look up to have helped develop a healthy skepticism of the individual. I love plenty of music, sports, films and art – but it’s always been disassociated from the people behind it. A great performance or body of work can still be achieved by an arsehole. That same arsehole can be capable of great love and tenderness too. But it doesn’t change the fact they’re an arsehole.
Elon Musk is an arsehole.
I am not a fan of Elon Musk. I think he is emblematic of what’s wrong in our society – a privileged, ignorant, billionaire tech bro who’s incapable of acting publicly with any humility or humanity.
There’s no better evidence of this than when there is gravity attached to a situation. Musk demonstrate through his behaviour and performance that not only does he fails to grasp how big the situation is, he monumentally misreads it, fucks up and then avoids any consequences.
The latest example – Cybertruck.
At a point in time where weening the world off of internal combustion engines would be a really great idea, Musk decided Cybertruck was the vehicle to do that. Instead of providing a viable alternative to the biggest and worst polluting vehicles on the planet, the ones that outsell all other vehicles in North America by something like 3:1, he pulls out a childish prank. He lets his tech bro personality leach out and ruin one of the biggest business opportunities Tesla will ever have. His quest to be one of the cool kids belies his billionaire status and the associated resources to actually get stuff done. Every one of his ventures is a different way to be cool.
Elon, or “melon” as my autocorrect likes to suggest, is an arsehole.
An electric pickup that was closer to the norm could have cleaned up in sales and revolutionised that vehicle sector. But no, he produces this childish retro-fantasy machine that appeals to him and his quest for cool, rather than addressing the actual market in front of him. And the fact that this thing got to launched shows the kind of boss he is. As a “special edition” Cybertruck could have been a great seller, but as the basis of an entire lineup? How stupid is that decision? How stupid was the concept of bullet proof glass, let alone its failure on stage? Again, it’s this hyper masculine-bro personality at its finest. The fact that no one pulled him up and put a stop to this “hey, how cool would it be if the windows were bulletproof yeah? You could survive drive-bye and shit in this thing! Hahaha!” moment is beyond me.
Elon’s total disregard for human labour (read up on working at Tesla factory) is probably why the demo failed. In the absolute rush to get the truck on stage for the event someone probably had to make a decision to replace the window. Maybe the bulletproof stuff didn’t look exactly as Elon wanted it or didn’t look as hot on Instagram or it wasn’t the right shade of tinted glass, he probably berated some poor sap so they switched it out. They probably told him too – don’t do the test on this one it has the other glass, but they weren’t important enough to listen to and so we get the coverup punchline – “we’ll fix it in post”.
At every possible point Elon makes a dick of himself. And then he bumps that up to arsehole level when the situation has extra gravity and importance.
The kids stuck in a cave? Elon thinks (out loud and on Twitter) “let build a submarine and make me the centre of attention”. He wouldn’t listen to every cave expert on the planet saying it won’t work and is a complete waste of time. There’s also that team of people that had their home lives ruined in the rush to prove he could do it. Let’s not forget that Elon didn’t lift a spanner, but he’ll always take credit for the work of others.
Trolling through his tweets is an experience. If you wanted to ever see the ravings of a cashed up man-child, then this is the account for you! It’s a pure snap-shot of “bro culture”, in other words a perfect reflection of the man himself.
Yes, Elon is working on some noble tasks – mainstream production of electric vehicles has gone from a far out idea to being realised, in part because of him. The whole reusable space equipment – again another noble quest to make space more affordable and globalally access – but you can’t look at the work in isolation.
I can respect his work but still hold the point of view that he’s an arsehole. The work doesn’t buy you a free pass. That’s part of what #metoo helped to change in our culture. It was a tipping point where it was no longer acceptable to overlooked heinous behaviour because of the “great work” being done, or the the “great man” power associated with these creeps. It’s still the opinion in “bro land” that what you do and what you achieve is more important that how you did it and what you did to achieve it.
But that’s just being an arsehole.