“You shut the fuck up with your boos.”
Chappelle invited Musk onstage in front of 18,000 attendees who came to hear the comedian on Sunday night. They sounded less than enthused to hear from the Silicon Valley billionaire, though, and video of Musk and Chappelle’s awkward attempts to salvage the show circulated online despite phones and recordings being banned at Chappelle’s events.
“It sounds like some of the people you fired are in the audience,” Chappelle quipped to a visibly uncomfortable Musk. The comedian attempted to reassure Musk that those booing him were just upset plebeians, telling them that they had “terrible seats.” At one point, Chappelle instructed Musk to scream his signature Chappelle Show catchphrase “I’m rich bitch!” Producers of the show resorted to playing air horns after Musk spoke in an attempt to drown out the crowd’s reaction.
Musk responded to the incident on Monday by tweeting that it was actually only “10% boos” but that the situation was “a first” for him. “It’s almost as if I’ve offended SF’s unhinged leftists,” Musk wrote.
“The woke mind virus is either defeated or nothing else matters,” Musk tweeted earlier on Monday.
In the aftermath of his very messy and very public takeover of Twitter, it’s not surprising that Musk’s popularity in the tech capital of the world has dwindled. Chappelle’s audience, however, was likely the last place Musk expected to encounter hostility. The comedian has been the subject of backlash in recent years regarding his obsessive fixation on mocking transgender individuals, a habit Musk shares.
Musk’s acquisition of Twitter in October was a jolt to Silicon Valley. Almost immediately upon finalizing the purchase of the platform, Musk conducted massive layoffs and quickly announced a series of changes to the platform. The sloppy rollout of his restructured Twitter Blue subscription, and a massive spike in instances of hateful conduct on the platform, sent advertisers fleeing.
Musk has since leaned into right-wing conspiratorial claims about Twitter in order to resolidify his status with them as a free-speech firebrand. He authorized a series of strategic leaks of Twitter’s internal communications that allegedly exposed suppression of conservative speech on the platform. Much of the content of the so called “Twitter Files” has long been public knowledge, but the cherry-picked examples highlighted by pundits authorized to distribute the content has reignited conservative anger over the platforms content moderation policies.
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Musk instituted a blanket amnesty policy for accounts previously banned from the platform, a move that ushered in the return of figures like Donald Trump (who has yet to tweet since his reinstatement) and Roger Stone, as well as neo-Nazis and violent reactionaires.
It’s plain to any observer that Musk has been directing his management of the platform by a desire to earn as many kudos as possible from right-wing sycophants rather than a developed business strategy. And while he can fire employees who criticize him, or potentially remove accounts if they upload video of him getting humbled in front of an audience, he cannot stop criticism from being voiced in spaces he does not control.