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Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, has been venerated as a genius and a “real-life Iron Man.” Nerds, especially Silicon Valley nerds, adore him and think he can save the world. But there’s one thing that has always eluded Musk: a good meme. Until now, attempts to memeify our dorky overlord have always been unfunny and not hugely popular, but Musk always finds a way.
Introducing: an actually-kind-of-funny meme starring Elon Musk.
At first glance, the frames of Elon approving and disapproving make this seem like another hackneyed “this thing is good, this other thing is bad” meme, riding the coattails of Drake and the Persuadable Bouncer. The Elon meme isn’t just a bad version of something else, though. It’s funny because of the comical way it characterizes Musk: as a guy who loves futuristic things, the more exaggerated the better.
The electric car baron doesn’t just eat ice cream—especially not “Fossil Fuel”—he eats Dippin’ Dots, the ice cream of the future. He doesn’t listen to Drake, he listens to … well, Future.
He doesn’t date actresses, he dates astronauts! (In real life, he does date actresses. The meme is about a character of Elon Musk as a future spaceman, not the actual human being.)https://www.instagram.com/p/BXggVhHlM8n/?taken-by=godemperormusk
He’s okay with the movie Madagascar, just not the “gas car” part:
What about actor Kevin Spacey? That wouldn’t make Elon happy. But what would?
Even erotic author Chuck Tingle, author of books like Pounded in the Butt by My Own Butt, got in on the act. He posited that a regular velociraptor wouldn’t be good enough for Musk. He’d probably prefer the space raptor from Tingle’s book Space Raptor Butt Invasion.
The good Musk meme seems to have emerged from the Instagram account GodEmperorMusk, which posts original Musk memes of widely varying quality. The creator of the account has been posting his memes to Reddit, but the Dippin’ Dots one was the first to be embraced and expanded upon. Some are even suggesting that Elon could replace Drake as the reigning approval/disapproval template. (That’s unlikely to happen because, again, the jokes are specific to the character of Musk, but it does suggest the meme has potential.)
This is a lesson in meme focus-grouping and persistence that would make Musk himself proud. Even when you have a great, intuitive idea—like “cars shouldn’t run on fossil fuels,” or “Elon Musk should be a meme”—you sometimes have to iterate to find the version the public is really going to love. In this case, that’s the approval/disapproval Elon. It appears to have a bright future ahead of it.
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.