On Monday morning, richest man in the world Elon Musk was clearly having a normal one. After a barrage of predictably offensive tweets appearing to mock trans people and public support for Ukraine, Tesla’s 50-year-old keyboard warrior tweeted, “I hereby challenge Владимир Путин [Vladimir Putin] to single combat,” adding that the stakes for their duel would be Ukraine (though it’s unclear exactly what that means...ownership of Ukraine?). Somewhere in Moscow, probably hopped up on roids and surrounded by a security detail of burly Russian men, Mr. Putin is almost certainly quaking in his boots.
Now, I don’t agree with much that Musk tweets, namely because the bulk of it is either covid misinformation or agonizingly un-funny memes pulled from your aunt’s Facebook timeline. But I do support this take! I say, let Musk and Putin, two of the wealthiest and perhaps most egotistical assholes in the world, fight in single combat!! And let us all watch!
Of course, an entire nation of sovereign people probably shouldn’t be the stakes of this stupid bar fight, so might I suggest instead that the loser of this particular duel—whoever he might be—ought to be forced either to withdraw their forces from Ukraine or to pay their factory workers a living wage and allow them to form a union.
Once the conditions of the duel are settled and someone explains to Musk that “single combat” refers to a real-life fight in which he will definitely get punched in the face, we at Jezebel would love to see this very serious challenge treated with the import it merits. Forget the UFC’s Octagon and silly, PC safety constraints—give these two titans of wealth hoarding and fascist propaganda an entire gladiator arena! Perhaps a gladiator arena in space, with Musk’s hordes of basement-dwelling, online defenders and Russia’s legions of Twitter bots cheering both men on from the stands? The winner could be crowned “technoking” of Musk’s fledgling colony on Mars, and—please god—stay there forever. We here on Earth are happy to allow the winner’s dedicated supporters to stay with them, too.
Musk’s bizarre tweets about the war in Ukraine notably come amid new reports that more than 600 Ukrainian civilians have now been killed by Russian forces. His puzzling “jokes” about the war and trans people follow devastating testimony from trans Ukrainians about the particular violence they’re experiencing as they try to find safety in the war-torn country.
But reading the room has never exactly been Musk’s thing—he prefers, instead, to cosplay as just another internet shit-poster, one of the boys, truly. For those with an aversion for reading or critical thinking, Musk’s tweets that involve, say, challenging Vladimir Putin to a duel, are a sufficient distraction from the reality that the Tesla CEO is currently sitting on $300 billion in stolen wealth, not to mention handfuls of lawsuits alleging sexual harassment, assault, and racist working conditions “reminiscent of the Jim Crow era.”
In any case, Musk was probably bluffing about his interest in combat with Putin—just like he was bluffing in 2018 when he lied that he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private at $420 a share! I just hope he wasn’t bluffing, because I think the majority of the world would genuinely love to see these two men kick each other’s asses.