Elon Musk tweets 'take the red pill' in another strange turn for the billionaire

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  • Elon Musk’s strange tweets have continued, with the CEO on Sunday tweeting, “Take the red pill.”
  • “The red pill” is a common internet term for those shifting their political views rightward.
  • Musk has been using Twitter to attack what he sees as government overreach in keeping businesses shut down during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Elon Musk’s streak of strange tweets continued Sunday, with the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX tweeting “Take the red pill” to his 34 million followers.

At its most basic level, the tweet is a reference to a scene from the 1999 movie “The Matrix,” in which the character Morpheus tells the protagonist Neo that he has been living in a computer simulation and is given the choice of taking a red or blue pill: “You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” (It’s worth noting that Musk does seem to believe there’s a good chance we’re living in a computer simulation.) In today’s internet, however, the phrase “taking the red pill,” or being “red-pilled,” is much more commonly used to denote a right-wing political awakening. It’s often used in forums dedicated to topics like President Donald Trump or “men’s rights” organisations.

It grew in popularity thanks to a subreddit called TheRedPill, which is openly misogynistic. Writing about in 2013, Business Insider described the subreddit’s views:

“Welcome to The Red Pill, an Internet community on Reddit founded on the general belief that women have it better than men. Red Pill is not a dating advice bulletin, but rather a forum for people – men, mostly – exploring an ideology that revolves almost exclusively around gender. Those who ‘swallow the pill’ maintain that it’s men not women, who have been socially disenfranchised. Feminism is considered a damaging ideology and Red Pillers are quick to cite examples that bolster their points, some going so far as to argue that society is outright anti-male.”

Musk, who once tweeted he was “openly moderate,” has taken an increasingly anti-regulatory tone since the novel coronavirus forced a temporary shutdown of his Fremont, California, factory. He has called stay-at-home orders “fascist,” and last Monday he said he was reopening the Fremont factory in defiance of local orders and was willing to be arrested to do so.

Already, conservative voices are hailing the tweet as a sign that Musk, who in 2019 tweeted that he supported Andrew Yang for president, is joining their side. Ivanka Trump quickly retweeted Musk’s tweet herself, responding, “Taken!”

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