Elon Musk has a devoted fanbase. They idolize the tech mogul, and are known for standing behind him through thick and thin. One might even say they’re more than devoted — they’re devout.
Now, Musk is becoming a literal idol: There’s now a 20-foot-tall giant golden statue of the billionaire. It’s not a golden calf, but it does feature Musk’s head mounted on the body of a goat, so I think we can call it close enough.
While the statue sounds like a joke, it seems to be serious. The goat body supporting Musk’s head represents the acronym G.O.A.T., or “Greatest Of All Time.” The Musk-goat is straddling a rocket, likely a reference to SpaceX, Musk’s space voyage company aimed at eventually sending humans to Mars.
Perhaps we need to review the original story of a golden idol, in Exodus. After fleeing Egypt, the Israelites got impatient waiting for Moses to bring the Ten Commandments from God. So they asked Aaron to make them a new god. He gathered their gold earrings, melted them down, and produced a golden calf that the Israelites worshipped as their God.
The real God got mad and wanted to kill everyone for worshipping a false god, but eventually Moses convinced God to hold off. But God still ends up sending a plague and Moses ends up shattering the commandments in anger and then kills 3,000 people. The calf idol, it should be noted, did not do anything to save its acolytes because — to recap — it was a false god.
It’s not a subtle message: Don’t worship false gods. And yet, here we are— or, at least, here Elon Musk’s superfans are — worshipping a literal golden idol.
The Musk-goat came from Ashley Sansalone, the creator of a cryptocurrency called the Elon Goat Token, and was assembled in part by a construction team known for building installations for the Burning Man festival. It’s definitely a marketing ploy for the currency — but that doesn’t make it any less of a real act of worship.
“There’s no one more deserving than Elon,” reads an Instagram post about the statue on Elon Goat Token’s profile; it urges Musk fans to come dance around the statue when it arrives at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Austin, Texas, as a gift to Musk. Another post says they hope to get the Tesla CEO’s “blessing” on the idol. (Musk has not yet publicly acknowledged the statue or indicated if he will accept it. It’s slated to arrive on Nov. 26.)
Like the impatient Israelites, Musk’s fans are willing to give up their gold earrings — or, their money — for the privilege of worshipping him. When Musk announced an $8 fee to get a blue verification checkmark on Twitter shortly after purchasing the social media company, his fans rushed to pay up and shrugged off critics who worried that the plan would lead to identity theft and allow bad actors to impersonate trusted public figures. (Musk’s Twitter Blue plan collapsed last week because of, yes, identity theft and users impersonating public figures.)
And like any zealot, Musk’s fans are unwilling to hear any criticism of their idol, whether it’s about the many mistakes of his Twitter takeover or safety issues with Teslas.
A popular meme encapsulating fans’ devotion to Musk. Courtesy of @reactjpg on Twitter
When a Tesla spontaneously burst into flame, trapping the driver inside when the electric locks failed, critics pointed to the locking issue as a clear safety violation. Musk devotees, meanwhile, blamed the driver for not reading the instruction manual thoroughly. This, they said, would have told him where to find the hidden manual door release. (The manual lock is not easily accessible in many Tesla designs; it is sometimes located under the floor mat of the car.)
It’s never good to put someone on a pedestal, and refuse to hear criticism of them. It can only cause harm. In this case, it’s allowed a self-absorbed billionaire who refuses to listen to anyone’s concerns to wreak havoc, in an astonishingly short period of time, on a social media site that has been essential to democracy. For all Twitter’s negativity and issues, it allowed grassroots organizers — whether during the Arab Spring or the Black Lives Matter protests — to communicate directly with the masses. That’s a big loss. And the exploding cars are also bad.
This is the very definition of worshipping a false idol. For all his fans’ support, Musk has refused to listen to valid criticism or improve. And what have his supporters gotten for their loyalty? A broken Twitter, mass layoffs and possibly, a deathtrap of a luxury car.
Perhaps Sansalone, and Musk’s other acolytes need to brush up on the story of false idols. They might sacrifice themselves on the altar of Musk, but he can’t reward their worship. He is, after all, a false idol.
The post Move over Golden Calf — meet Elon Musk’s Golden Goat appeared first on The Forward.