It has been over two weeks since Grimes shocked the world at the Met Gala by revealing that she is dating none other than Elon Musk. Yep, as it turns out, Grimes is now Elon Musk’s goth girlfriend. No one, it seems, was expecting this — nor should they have been.
Grimes showed up at the Gala in a very characteristically Grimes-y outfit — pale as a ghost, with witchy black hair, black lace-up platform boots and some kind of an odd corset-skirt combo — except, of course, for the multimillionaire electric car mogul on her arm.
Soon after that Met Gala revelation, of course, came the reactions:
Elon Musk and Grimes, Met Gala (2018) pic.twitter.com/KGKn6oJdlU
— rachel (@lilmissagitated) May 8, 2018
You're all way too cynical about Elon Musk and Grimes. There are lots of things an aging capitalist gazillionaire nerd could see in a young, attractive and cool musician other than wanting to harvest her blood for youth, you know?
— Zing Tsjeng (@misszing) May 8, 2018
top 5 class traitors [UPDATED 2018]:
3. cop horses
— sadfem (@phendetta) May 8, 2018
“But Grimes,” said the collective voice of progressive Twitter, “Why are you, a 30-year-old musician/producer/all-around delightfully, ridiculously talented weirdo, dating a 46-year-old Silicon Valley douchebag who refuses to let his workers unionize?”
A lot of people, it seemed, were pretty upset about Grimes’ lack of “wokeness” in choosing a partner. To be fair, they’re not wrong. It seems pretty uncharacteristic for an artist who, until recently, described herself as “anti-imperialist” in her Twitter bio to date perhaps the most well-known capitalist in the world.
Weeks later, it seemed like the storm had more or less blown over, but then Grimes did some tweeting of her own on labor rights at Tesla. In a since-deleted tweet, she suggested that the reports of labor-rights violations are “fake news” and that she had personally visited the factories, so, clearly, she would know. This, of course, led to a barrage of merciless replies:
GRIMES: *from the other room* honey, did you prevent your employees from unionizing?
ELON MUSK: *sweating fucking bullets* Ah hah. Nooo? pic.twitter.com/0ZBI7f5yln
— hp podcasts (@markpopham) May 22, 2018
elon musk showing up at grimes’ doorstep like in Love Actually holding signs displaying statistics about how happy and well-paid Tesla workers are and various photos of tesla workers obeying proper safety protocol in his factories
— sargon of ACAB (@D0GGEAUX) May 22, 2018
There have been a lot of insane theories about what exactly is going on here, many of which involve Grimes getting her free trip to Mars and then dumping his ass, and at least one of which involves her overthrowing Musk in a coup and installing fair-labor practices at Tesla factories.
All of this speculation illuminates a pervasive aspect of celebrity culture. Why is everyone so unnerved by this wild, only-in-2018 series of events? Because people expect the celebrities they like to be like them, so when celebrities behave in ways that people don’t approve of, people end up feeling betrayed.
There’s definitely a parallel that can be drawn between this Grimes situation and the years-long public fascination with Kanye West’s opinions. It’s hard for people who remember Kanye speaking truth to power and calling out Bush during Katrina to hear that, these days, he apparently believes slavery was a choice.
Understandably, to people who counted on Kanye to speak up on the issue of racial justice in the way he did in the past, the complete 180 he’s done within the last few years has been a shock.
It’s also hard when the erring celebrities are as talented as Kanye or Grimes. Kanye is inarguably one of the greatest artists alive today — he has stayed relevant since his debut in 2004, not just because of his outbursts, but because of the merit of his music.
Grimes, too, is incredibly talented — there aren’t many critically acclaimed artists out there who write, record, produce and engineer all of their own music, as Grimes does. The trouble with talented artists is this: People have a lot of difficulties separating their art from the reality of them still being people.
Listen. Obviously, Grimes can date whoever she wants to date. The outrage about her being with Musk and losing her “wokeness points,” or whatever, is largely overblown, but it’s still understandable given the way celebrity culture works.
Celebrity culture, even for smaller celebrities like Grimes, is built to make it seem like the people whose content we like are also like us in other ways. Social media, more so than anything else, sets people up to feel as if they are close to famous people. It follows, then, that people feel as if they share the same values as the people they idolize.
The hard truth is this: Just because someone appears to be progressive, or even adopts the language of progressivism in some cases, does not mean they are fully educated on the issues or even care about them.
Plus, celebrities have the distance of class and financial success that separates them from the needs of people who have significantly less than they do. Money really can change a person. At the end of the day, famous people are still people, and they are going to say dumb shit, especially if it’s dumb shit that benefits them personally.
Should Grimes be unequivocally denying the reports of labor violations with very little evidence to go off of other than Musk’s own word? Definitely not — it’s always disappointing whenever anyone with a platform as big as hers cries “fake news” with absolutely no merit.
Still, the fact that everyone has built up celebrities into this ideal of woke spokespeople that have come to save society from its ills is arguably the real cause of all of this drama.