Billionaires should not exist. But, on the other hand, Cybertruck:
Tesla unveiled the new Cybertruck last night!— TmarTn (@TmarTn) November 22, 2019
People are extremely divided on the styling, thoughts?! pic.twitter.com/JqNtsIwuY1
The Cybertruck is the new car by Tesla, the controversial electric car manufacturer. Though it appears to have the dimensions of a sedan, it’s closer to a pickup truck, and has the alleged space and towing power of one. (You can read about the specs here.) It’s supposed to be essentially bulletproof, though the windows were shattered in a demonstration, and will start at just a shade under $40,000. Following its debut last night, the its boxy design was rudely compared to all sorts of things: a legendarily fucked-up Kobe Bryant shoe; Macho Man Randy Savage’s monster truck; something from a Playstation 1 game; a door wedge; Lara Croft’s pixellated ’90s chest.
Also, the logo looks like this:
The Cybertruck is completely ridiculous. But let’s think about how it came into existence. Elon Musk, the semi-disgraced founder of Tesla, has the chaotic energy of a sexy Riddler Halloween costume and the granular intensity of a message board poster. His girlfriend is the pop musician Grimes, whose music has become increasingly dystopian and robotic while they’ve been together. The visual antecedent for the design is obviously cyberpunk, the genre of fiction that focuses on (here’s Wikipedia) “‘a combination of low-life and high tech’ featuring advanced technological and scientific achievements, such as artificial intelligence and cybernetics, juxtaposed with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order” — so much so that it may literally appear in Cyberpunk 2077, an upcoming big-budget video game set in a fictitious cyberpunk world.
So a picture begins to form: Musk is a giant nerd, as is his girlfriend, and they smoke weed, and he’s rich enough to turn his weed-fueled, dorky visions of the future into reality. Imagine a semi-faded Elon lying back on his couch, bag of Cheetos in one hand and Playstation controller in the other, idly wondering if all cars could look like video games. He places a call to his assistant, and tells them to turn his napkin scribbles into a workable idea. We are watching, in real time, what a mind powered by drugs (possibly, of course) and money and speculative fiction can produce.
And it’s… tight? Look, most cars look anonymous or shitty for other reasons, and obviously this thing has to be bulletproof because anyone who sees it on the street is going to feel compelled to whip rocks against the side. Still, who isn’t up for anything that disrupts the stultifying aesthetic norm of our increasingly focus-tested product market? Most billionaires use their money to fund voter suppression or Russian disinformation campaigns, and Musk has used his to render a 12-year-old’s idea of a cool car into the world. It’s almost charming; a perfect emblem of an era in which billionaire excess has run unchecked. There are more salient critiques, which is that this truck exists for adult babies who see the world in increasingly riotous terms, but come on: We still live in this world, which dictates that anyone who drives this is going to be mocked into obsolescence, like Google Glass. I don’t think this will become a norm any time soon.
Obviously, to say it again, billionaires should not exist, and their existence constitutes against a crime against the national order, and if we could snap our fingers and redistribute all of Musk’s money into liberal social programs, the world would be a better place. Yes. Musk, in particular, is a greasy chode for myriad other reasons, and I don’t mean to Astroturf his reputation just because he did a fun dumb thing, because he could use his time and money so much better. But all billionaires could do that, and most of them actively conspire to make the world a much worse place; here, Musk has at least done the fun dumb thing. I feel like I’ve learned a lot.