How the Internet Turned on Elon Musk

An unlikely, polarizing SNL hosting stint for Elon Musk reveals the boundaries and tensions of our ever-present culture wars

5/8/2021 9:00:00 PM

An unlikely, polarizing SNL hosting stint for Elon Musk reveals the boundaries and tensions of our ever-present culture wars

An unlikely, polarizing SNL hosting stint for the mogul reveals the boundaries and tensions of our ever-present culture wars.

amid the initial outcry over his SNL appearance, Musk’s uncouth attitude and gauche bear-hug of market capitalism frequently blind his liberal critics to how his fundamental mission of scientific and environmental progress is perfectly aligned with theirs.

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These contradictions, along with his cultural transgressions and alleged ethical shortcomings as a capitalist, make him a perfect target for the hyper-progressive, image-conscious social media mavens that shape our media landscape.It’s a position shared by a sizable number of Americans, but a decided minority of them. According to a recent Vox/Data for Progress

poll, “68 percent [of Americans] say they disagree that it’s immoral for a society to allow people to become billionaires.” They’re especially warm and fuzzy, as it turns out, when it comes to Musk himself: his net approval rating among the general public is +27 points — behind Bill Gates, but ahead of Bezos and Zuckerberg — and 52 percent of Democrats see him favorably.

The extent to which SNL’s decision to invite him was baffling depends on one’s perspective. Inside the bubble the show inhabits and largely embodies, it was a betrayal of core principles. Outside, it was just another celebrity news item about the raffish eccentric who builds rockets and tweets all day about

Dogecoin.Musk’s actual appearance on SNL, however potentially awkward, will likely result in much less heat and light than the controversy surrounding it. In their definitive oral history of the show, “Live From New York,” Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller quote the series’ creator Lorne Michaels on the Dice Clay controversy. “You don’t invite somebody to your house to piss on him,” Michaels said. “[T]his person has put themselves in your hands, they’re completely vulnerable, the show only works if they look good, so why would you have anybody over that you don’t like? What — because you need the ratings? It doesn’t make any sense.”

And so will Musk be treated, even by the cast members who couldn’t conceal their disdain for his presence — none of whom, it should be noted, chose to follow in Nora Dunn’s footsteps and exclude themselves out of principle. The controversy around his appearance reveals the extent of the non-representative filter bubbles that social media has allowed Americans to place themselves in, not least those at SNL who are among Musk’s critics. They, to echo the

apocryphalPauline Kael comment about Nixon voters, likely don’t have a representative number of people in their lives who see him not as a uniquely malevolent entity, but as an entertaining futurist with admitted personal flaws.In that light, Musk might find himself in an unusual role when he takes the stage at 30 Rock to deliver the show’s opening monologue: That of an emissary from reality.

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odious Character. Spelt with big C. It is ridiculous that you sited a study using data from 2016-2018 to make the bold claim 'studies find cryptocurrency mining responsible for a miniscule fraction of annual CO2 emissions.' That data is useless other than to serve you fluffing Musk. Politico barely understands politics now you want to tell us about culture too?

Calling out toxic rich dudes isn't a culture war. People know he's a dick so his pr stunt not gonna make him more likeable. 'Culture wars'? Try principle. He negatively influenced his followers throughout the pandemic belittling the seriousness of COVID19 that killed over 500,000 & then told them he wouldn't get the vaccine denying 'US' the possibility of herd immunity.

Lol Okay. He does stuff that make things worse, but his goals are good? The guy doesnt know what a train is. Go beg him to stick a tesla chip in your head or whatever if you think he's any good. If we allowed every smart, rich person to host the show then Alfred Einstein would have hosted. I am outraged by this and will not be watching.

The hatred woke people have for Musk is absolutely baffling. I'm imagining Elon is paying them a ton of money to host the show.. 😏 SNL and NBC will do anything for ratings these days . NBC has gone down hill since Tim Russert left us . Excited to find out what happened

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