Those of you who spend your free time being Extremely Online will no doubt have had a fair portion of your weekend chewed up by giggling riotously at a “French Elon Musk” Twitter feed. But for those whose brains haven’t been completely poisoned by the garbage blue website, consider this ample forewarning: This story is a wild ride.
Elon Musk, as we all know, has enjoyed a curious transition from respected tech innovator to the absolute butt of many jokes in recent times. Musk is, for all intents and purposes, the dictionary definition of what the internet considers an easy target: Exceedingly wealthy, seemingly quite petty, profoundly active on social media, and, above all else, a nerd. A combination of factors that makes him a sturdy hook upon which ample shit can be hung.
Curiously enough, Twitter took the unusual step last week of immediately locking any account that changed its screen display name to “Elon Musk” or any number of subtle variations therein. Largely, it was a move done to combat various cryptocurrency scam accounts that make a habit of hanging out in the mentions of Musk’s legitimate tweets, making it seem as though he’s endorsing whatever scam is being run at any given time.
What the filters let through, however, turned the internet into a giant pile-on and resulted in one of the greatest crash-and-burns in recent memory.
Early Saturday morning (AUS time), a parody account by the name of French Élon Musque surfaced, like most parody accounts do, fairly inauspiciously.
The crux of the joke here being fiendishly simple: Elon Musk, but as the broadest version of the French stereotype as you could possibly imagine.
This is far from the first time a gag like this has been attempted through the guise of Musk, it should be said. Twitter user @alexqarbuckle perfected the format via an Italian Elon Musk bit that both went borderline viral and also cost him his verified blue tick.
Same premise. Different European stereotyping. Rinse, repeat.
Very quickly, French Élon Musque – which apparently skirted Twitter’s crackdown by simply spelling the name a bit differently – attracted a wild following, and the posting became more and more unhinged.
By this point, the account had attracted tens of thousands of followers. Most of which were purely on board with the truly demented humour; a prime example of Twitter’s rabid appetite for over-worked irony and deliberate ownership of its own inherent awfulness.
On just day two of the account’s existence, however, the wheels rapidly began falling off.
With some 55,000+ followers to its name, the account began drawing copycats. Irish Elon Musk, Spanish Elon Musk, Australian Elon Musk, and South African Elon Musk accounts all surfaced, all poorly executed imitators of their French counterpart, and all of which flamed out fairly quickly after their arrival.
French Élon Musque, however, persisted. Perhaps in spite of itself.
As with all things with open DM channels, the account quickly amassed abuse. Musk-defending fans descended on the account en masse, reportedly targeting both the account itself and its claimed creator, a queer teenage artist from America identified by the handle @slimosine. At this point, cracks began emerging. Both under the sheer weight of the added attention (and heat) the account was gathering, and under the pressure of unwittingly leading a weekend’s worth of parody work.
The account posted what’s arguably its best work at around midnight on Sunday morning (AUS time).
Before the plug was ultimately pulled on it in a spectacular meltdown a while later, bringing to a close the entire journey which lasted a shade over 26 hours. Though, judging by how the end-stage tweets were worded, it could easily have been a project that lasted several months.
A series of tweets promoting the accounts of associated artists and a Soundcloud page followed – all of which received a fraction of the attention the main tweets did – and that was that.
French Élon Musque had lived, and French Élon Musque had subsequently died. Quickly, spectacularly, and with a torrent of poorly-worded self-promotion marking its grave. The grand Twitter tradition.