Elon Musk: King of Memes
What’s so funny about Elon Musk’s prodigious meme output? Will his status as emperor of shitposters ever be rivalled? Is Elon a force for good in meme culture – or is it all just a cynical marketing tool for his companies?
Elon Musk believes in simulation theory. Fair enough. You would too, if every ridiculous idea that crossed your mind could be instantaneously shared with 130 million people around the world. From the toilet.
This extraordinary, unprecedented cultural reach – which he’s earned legitimately – could be used or abused in all sorts of ways. Trump parlayed it into becoming president. Musk uses it to share funny memes.
Does Musk’s love of memes help his brand, or hurt it? And why should you care?
Proper grown-up newspaper The New York Times recently conducted an in-depth analysis of Elon’s social media activity, from when he started tweeting in like 2009, to roughly the present day.
The findings? That Elon only really began shitposting in earnest around 2018, during a spell in which Tesla was struggling and failing to meet its ambitious production targets.
Can we therefore infer that Elon mostly uses memes as a defence mechanism when things aren’t going his way?
Certainly, Elon’s preternatural ability to meme sets him apart from his fellow elite plutocrats. To the striking extent that Tesla never pays for advertising.
It simply… doesn’t have to. The brand is famous, because Elon is famous. And Elon is famous, to an extraordinary extent, due to memes.
Commercial juggernaut Amazon, by comparison, spent 42.2 billion dollars on advertising last year alone.
In this manner, Elon has wholeheartedly embraced the classic marketing maxim that ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity.’
However, with the stratospheric level of notoriety and influence Elon now wields, does that axiom still hold true? Is there such a thing as terrible press, from his peerless vantage point?
Five years ago, if we’re honest, he wasn’t nearly half as famous. These days he’s pretty much humanity’s central character. And his faintly old-fashioned views on issues like, say, trans rights mark him out as a hate figure.
Like, he’s in his 50s guys. And he singlehandedly made the electric car cool! Give him a break, maybe, even if he doesn’t agree with you.
Of course, by placing himself at the heart of our civilisation’s storyline since buying Twitter, he’s basically begging for a backlash. Does that hurt his bottom line?
Yeah, probably. He’s wasting his time on Twitter, really, isn’t he? Wouldn’t we all secretly prefer he dedicated his time and energy on getting us to Mars? Rolling out Cybertruck? Memeing, just a little, on the can?
Goading his opponents – like when he rocked up to the Met Gala dressed in a full-on fuck-you-hippies supervillain tux – maybe does the wider mission more harm than good.
Recently Elon seems to have had an epiphany – that trolling won’t change anybody’s mind, or at least bring anybody new around to his point of view.
Hence, thoughtful haiku-esque posts like this, yesterday:
If other party is always wrong
And your party is always right
You are at least partly wrong
This timely nugget of wisdom aside, it’s worth noting that a tweet he made only a couple of days before – a dumb joke meme about porn and AI – got five times as much engagement.
History will be Elon’s final judge. And as we sit, in the springtime of 2023, it’s a fascinating exercise just contemplating what this mercurial figure’s ultimate legacy might be.
Will he take us to Mars, as promised? Thanks to Tesla, and its many copycats, will humanity narrowly escape the cataclysmic consequences of climate change?
Or will Elon’s stark warnings about the coming AI singularity prove so horribly prescient, we’ll all be enslaved under Skynet by Christmas?
At least we’ll know who to turn to for the spiciest end-of-days memes.
Ever wondered if you could GET RICH MAKING MEMES?
Are CLASSROOM MEMES actually good for teaching?
Also, while we’re here, IS STEALING MEMES ILLEGAL