Were I to tell you a Silicon Valley CEO was dating a Canadian songwriter, you’d already have your phone out, ready to scroll idly through Instagram while pretending to listen to whatever I said next. But were I to mention that Elon Musk and Grimes are dating, you’d need your phone for different reasons: to make sure I’m not bullshitting you, to learn how they met, to find photos of them side by side, and to read the popular reactions.
I would characterize the overall mood on a Musk-Grimes relationship, one confirmed by their PR teams and an appearance together at a fashion event for wealthy celebrities who cosplay as Louis XIV furniture, as “hysterically displeased.” The union is “cursed” and sapping our will to live. They’re sure to have the “dustiest” intercourse and look like when Beetlejuice tried to marry Winona Ryder. Who is to blame for this travesty of a couple? I’m afraid I have some troubling news: It’s actually all your fault.
I’m sorry, but you personally laid the groundwork for this, the Most 2018 Romance, and it’s nothing less than you deserve. It was you who jokingly told Musk to ask Grimes out when you saw him flirting with her on Twitter. It’s you who wrote doctoral theses on how Grimes’ off-kilter synth-pop is key to understanding the “post-internet” age and asked whether Musk, by launching a convertible full of his soylent farts into space, had made historic art. Megalomaniacal technocrats convinced you that having billions of dollars makes them red-carpet personalities worthy of fucking hot entertainers 15 years younger than them, and the weirdo musicians tricked you into assuming they were socialists with lyrics like “’Cause I get carried away / Commodifying all the pain.” Well, guess what, they’re all just a bunch of freaks who love the Dune novels and view them as blueprints for human progress! So stop complaining! I don’t want to hear it!
This, my friends, is all there is. It’s the triumph of neoliberalism. It’s Grimes taking “anti-imperialist” out of her Twitter bio so she can cozy up to a guy who wants to colonize Mars, allegedly exploits cheap foreign labor, and runs unsafe factories plagued by complaints about racism and homophobia. It’s Vanity Fair gushing about how Musk turned her into a walking Tesla advertisement at the Met Gala (oh, right, he dictated the rest of her wardrobe as well, totally normal) and the assumption that the Aging Business Geek is ever in want of a Chill Goth DJ Girlfriend. We are all complicit in this ghastly mosaic — even me, a guy who spent three years confusing Grimes with Death Grips — and thus a talented creative who once wrote a scorching feminist manifesto is intimately involved with a hair-plugged putz who follows the social media accounts for edgy cartoons including South Park and Rick and Morty but not a single other woman. Also, remember when he declared himself the “alpha” as he danced with his first wife at their wedding and later told her that if she were his employee, he’d fire her? Woke shit.
But hey, Grimes and Musk are consenting adults, perfectly free to bone in matching alien costumes on a bedazzled private hovercraft or however they do it. What I’m saying is that we peasants are so alarmed by their companionship because we normalized the rotten intersection of capital, status, and cultural influence that allowed it to materialize. Money is now as good as aesthetics. Time and geography make no difference to people hooking up online. We admire powerful men for obscuring their politics while expecting women to use whatever modest platform they have to speak up. When we object to the pairing of Musk and Grimes despite the dorky interests that evidently brought them into synchronous orbit — not to mention a shared tendency to speak in TED Talkese — it’s because we still have faith in a system of signs that set them apart. What we ought to recognize here is that they’re both successfully self-branded web entrepreneurs.
Oh, and did I forget to point out there’s like a 60 percent chance these two got together knowing it would be a mindfuck for anyone who cared? That they wanted to troll a certain class of hyperconnected, gossip-addicted, meme-crazed goobers? Funny how a supposed mismatch of famous partners deactivates our skepticism toward its carefully engineered unveiling. But I’m not in the state of shocked denial so many observers have articulated. Au contraire, I disregard the mystery of platonic friendship vs. sex frenzy to note that either way, they are in cahoots — united by some secret purpose against a roiling mass consciousness that cannot handle the fact of their mere proximity. I do not trust them. I do not want to learn, a month from now, that Elon Musk and Grimes designed an artificial intelligence that writes horoscopes. Nonetheless, I’m aware this is unavoidable, and I face the future unflinchingly. I am ready for an end to all things, most especially the myth that appointed luminaries will ever do what we dream for them.