Whether you know him for his accolades, space explorations, “self-driving” vehicles or as the current CEO of Twitter and Tesla, there’s no doubt that Elon Musk has been involved in multiple questionable activities.
Why do so many people hate Elon Musk?
His public relationship with Grimes, alleged poor treatment of his workers and his purchase of Twitter and subsequent unbanning of many controversial people are just a few of the reasons people hate Elon Musk.
While just as many people love him, there are some more obvious (albeit subjective) reasons to dislike Musk. He’s not exactly known to be the most humble, down-to-earth of people. And as the reported richest man in the world, it’s not surprising his success and wealth rub so many people the wrong way.
But Musk has also had his share of specific, controversial moments that could be enough for many people to point out.
1. Musk is considered one of the largest contributors to the global wealth gap.
Now, becoming one of the richest people alive is somewhat impressive. I’m sure even those who rage against Musk can grant him some level of admiration. But ultimately, many feel questions have to be asked about whether or not anyone can become a billionaire by ethical means. Do you make a billion dollars — or do you take a billion dollars?
Longtime “Saturday Night Live” cast member Aidy Bryant appeared to take a subtle jab at Musk when she shared a screenshot of a Bernie Sanders tweet that read, “The 50 wealthiest people in America today own more wealth than the bottom half of our people. Let me repeat that, because it is almost too absurd to believe: the 50 wealthiest people in this country own more wealth than some 165 MILLION Americans. That is a moral obscenity.”
While many people express dislike towards millionaires and billionaires, in general, some individuals may find it admirable! It may cause them to believe that they, too, can become wealthy one day if they follow in Musk’s footsteps.
2. He once called a rescue diver who saved Thai schoolboys a ‘pedo guy.’
After Musk’s help was refused in an operation to rescue 12 Thai boys trapped in a cave in 2018, the Tesla CEO branded the 64-year-old diver who saved the teens a “pedo guy.” He later testified in court that this was a common phrase in his home country of South Africa and didn’t have any connotations of pedophilia. OK, Elon.
The diver had accused Musk of trying to make the rescue mission into a PR stunt by offering a submarine that was never used. Musk later won a defamation case taken against him by the diver.
3. Musk shared what many believe to be misinformation about Covid-19.
Musk labeled the deadly virus “not very deadly” and claimed, after many vulnerable young people died of Covid-19, that young people were not vulnerable to Covid-19. He also claimed that shelter-in-place orders used to protect lives were “fascist.”
Then, when Musk himself contracted Covid-19, he questioned the legitimacy of coronavirus tests after he had gotten both positive and negative test results while showing early symptoms of the virus.
He also stated that he and his children would not be getting the Covid-19 vaccine when one became available.
4. He has been accused of exposing Tesla workers to Covid-19.
Musk defied state orders by reopening Tesla’s Fremont Factory in Alameda County, California, despite a statewide lockdown during the pandemic. He was later held responsible for a coronavirus outbreak at the plant that endangered several workers. However, rather than apologize and let his workers shelter-in-place at home, he filed a lawsuit against the county.
Musk later dropped the suit and was allowed to reopen on the condition that safety and social distancing measures be taken at the factory.
5. Musk is believed to be colonizing outer space.
Musk claims his plan to create a civilization in space will result in a “dramatically improved” life. Improved for who, exactly, we don’t yet know. His utopian plan to move one million people to Mars by 2050 involves creating loans that people will be required to pay back through work upon their arrival.
If this concept sounds familiar to you it’s because you were listening during history class when you learned about indentured servitude, which was used to create cheap labor by settlers in America.
That said, with climate change plaguing our planet, some individuals may feel hopeful that humanity can escape Earth to live on another planet, simultaneously making this a reason some people love Musk.
6. He once claimed college is a waste of time.
Musk has said college is “basically for fun” and “not for learning.” And some might agree. But it’s a pretty easy thing for a man with two college degrees to say. Of course, those struggling to fund their college degrees or those who cannot afford to even go to college might disagree.
The statement was also particularly ironic given that job descriptions for Musk’s SpaceX require a bachelor’s degree and, in some instances, prefer a master’s degree.
7. Musk has been accused of sexual misconduct and taking advantage of workers.
Musk was once forced to apologize after a report detailed how outsourced workers for Tesla were paid as little as $5. Several years later it was ruled that Musk was violating labor laws by firing a Tesla union activist and discouraging workers from unionizing.
Tesla has also been hit with allegations of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, racism, and homophobia.
8. He has been accused of manipulating the cryptocurrency market.
Where the crypto market is supposed to be free from the influence of one person, Musk’s tweets alone have driven the prices up and down of certain cryptocurrencies.
Back in May 2021, Musk tweeted that Tesla would no longer accept Bitcoin as payment. After the tweet, the price of Bitcoin dropped 15%.
After a Twitter user asked if Musk would sell Tesla’s crypto holdings, the price dropped even lower. One week later, Musk called attention to the environmental impact that bitcoin has, sending prices soaring.
In early June 2021, Musk tweeted a meme that sent the price of bitcoin down 5%, and just a few weeks later finally announced that Tesla would accept bitcoin once more, leading to an 8% increase in price.
During all this, Musk revealed that he was working with dogecoin developers, increasing the crypto price by 30%! Along with his tweets affecting the market, in February 2021, Tesla purchased $1.5 billion in Bitcoin and then sold 10% of it.
Anyone familiar with the crypto market could find it refreshing that Musk’s words have such a huge impact. For instance, those who own dogecoin probably see their investments skyrocket when Musk affects the market so intensely.
9. Musk’s company Neuralink was accused of animal cruelty.
In February 2022, Neuralink, a neurotechnology company that Musk co-founded, was hit with a complaint from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, along with a nonprofit advocacy group called Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, alleging animal testing and abuse.
According to records, the advocacy group claims gross negligence and abuse of 23 macaque monkeys who were used as part of experiments to implant chips in the brains of the creatures, leading to 15 of the monkeys dying.
It’s alleged that an unapproved substance called “BioGlue” was used on the monkeys’ brains, monkeys were put in cages alone, the monkeys suffered from infections and seizures, and that workers didn’t give proper care.
The group also claimed that any photographic or video evidence was withheld.
10. People have alleged that his relationship with Grimes was abusive.
Though Elon Musk and Grimes ended their relationship before the birth of their second child, there is plenty of speculation that there was abuse in their partnership. One theory claims that Grimes wrote an anonymous Reddit post describing Musk’s controlling behavior. “My (31f) boyfriend (49m) convinced me that we needed to stop talking to my mom. I figured out why and it’s messing me up,” the post said.
The user’s story shares a few similarities with Grimes and Musk’s relationship. While pregnant, the user’s boyfriend refused to take her to the hospital and only believed she was suffering complications after her doctor said she almost died. Grimes eventually revealed that she almost died from complications during her pregnancy.
Another similarity is Musk’s relationship with Grimes’ mother. In the user’s post, she said her boyfriend and mother didn’t get along, and her boyfriend was allegedly part of Men’s Rights activists groups. After Musk tweeted, “Take the red pill” two weeks after his son was born, Grimes’ mom tweeted at Musk, “If your partner went through a challenging pregnancy and childbirth in the last two weeks… And you were over 16 years old, would you be blaring MRA bulls*** on Twitter right now?”
11. He compared Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Adolf Hitler.
In February 2022, as a response to Trudeau’s attempts to quash a protest by Canadian truckers, regarding Covid restrictions, Musk tweeted a meme of Adolf Hitler with the caption “Stop comparing me to Justin Trudeau. I had a budget.”
In January 2022, truckers blocked the Canadian-US border, as well as in cities, protesting a mandate requiring individuals entering Canada and the US to be vaccinated.
Trudeau issued a public order emergency, allowing a ban on public assembly and enabling the seizure of trucks used in blockades. In addition, part of the Emergencies Act ordered “financial firms to cease facilitating any transactions from 34 crypto wallets tied to funding trucker-led protests in the country.”
We all know how much Musk loves cryptocurrency. Still, Musk’s now-deleted tweet was in poor taste, for obvious reasons.
12. Musk is a close friend of controversial rapper Kanye West.
Even before West’s highly public and concerning abusive comments towards Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson, Musk was purported to be a close friend of the rapper. They share similar controversial opinions, and Musk has defended West’s behavior. In 2015, Musk wrote a blurb for TIME’s 100 Most Influential People, saying, “The dude doesn’t believe in false modesty, and he shouldn’t… But Kanye does think. Constantly. About everything.”
Musk and West also support one another’s businesses, with Musk wearing Yeezy sneakers and West driving a Tesla. Musk even supported West’s announcement to run for president in the 2020 election. There have also been discussions that West wants to go into space with Musk.
On the other hand, people who are fans of Kanye West’s music and find no issue with his outlandish behavior might feel they have every reason to support an ally of Ye. Besides, not many people share Ye’s belief in certain conspiracy theories and issues.
13. He’s made transphobic comments.
In June 2020, while individuals were expressing their solidarity and inclusivity of the transgender community, Musk tweeted out “Pronouns suck.”
Immediately, Musk received backlash — not just from followers but from Grimes, who responded with her own now-deleted tweet, “I love you but please turn off ur phone or give me a dall [sic]. I cannot support this hate. Please stop this. I know this is not your heart.”
It shouldn’t be shocking that trans individuals are at risk for violence perpetrated against them, with at least 375 trans people murdered in 2021 in the US alone.
14. He seems to really hate public transportation.
Born into wealth and now the richest person in the world, while Musk is planning to terraform Mars, regular, everyday people are taking public transportation to get to and from places.
But it seems that Musk is a strong opponent of public transportation, and in 2017, at the Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, Musk said, “I think public transport is painful. It sucks. Why do you want to get on something with a lot of other people, that doesn’t leave where you want it to leave, doesn’t start where you want it to start, doesn’t end where you want it to end? … That’s why everyone doesn’t like it. And there’s like a bunch of random strangers, one of who might be a serial killer, OK, great. And so that’s why people like individualized transport, that goes where you want, when you want.”
An audience member then pointed out that Japan’s transportation system is effective, but Musk brushed the questions off. These comments show just how entitled and privileged Musk is, never having to worry about “painful” public transportation, and instead free to roam around the universe in a SpaceX ship.
However, those who feel public transportation is less than ideal could certainly agree that traveling with strangers does, indeed, suck. And they might also feel validated that someone with such influence supports their exact thoughts.
15. He seems to get away with it all free of consequences.
Whether you love or hate him, there’s no doubt that Musk has never had to truly answer for his less-than-tasteful comments on a variety of issues, using his platform to rile people up instead of truly using his influence to make a difference.
As the richest person in the world, with a net worth of $267.3 billion, he’s free from worrying about paying fines, owning up to his controversial comments, and using his wealth to squash the narrative of those who oppose him.
He effectively bends reality to convince others that he isn’t wrong, and god forbid anyone disagree. According to a former Tesla executive, “Elon has an uncanny ability to tell a story he wants to be true, convince himself that it has to be true, and then convince others.”
16. People criticized his 2021 “Saturday Night Live” appearance.
Even “SNL” cast members didn’t approve of his appearance on the show back in 2021, and the Technoking of Tesla apparently wasn’t a fan-favorite among some series regulars who made no secret of their disdain.
During his opening monologue, Musk had viewers scratching their heads when he revealed that he has Asperger’s syndrome, saying, “I’m actually making history tonight as the first person with Asperger’s to host ‘SNL.’ Or at least the first to admit it. So I won’t make a lot of eye contact with the cast tonight…”
While that’s not technically true — “SNL” alum Dan Aykroyd was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in his youth — some applauded Musk for bringing attention to neurodiversity. However, others described this reveal as “self-serving and hollow, a poor attempt at laundering his image as a heartless billionaire more concerned with cryptocurrency and rocket ships than the lives of others.”
Alice Kelly is YourTango’s former Deputy News and Entertainment Editor. Based in Brooklyn, New York, her work covers all things social justice, pop culture, and human interest.