Elon Musk made the car I drew when I was 6, so I love it.
The first reaction was hilarity, then rejection, then more hilarity, then I thought it was trolling us all.
The new car that Elon Musk has presented is not a car or just a car. The easiest way to describe it is that it looks like the car that each of us has designed at least once in our lives, strictly before the age of 10, having no ability to do so, of course.
From a design point of view there is not much to say: it doesn't concede anything to aesthetics, it is beyond aesthetics.What can you say about it? It's clumsy, it's hostile in its angularity, it looks like a civilized tank, it's sharp as a razor, it looks like it hates mankind. Except for the specimens of the same on board.
It's more interesting and fun to read as it has been called. The more imaginative the descriptions they have made of it (often saying what it looks like), the more clear it is that Elon for the umpteenth time has understood something that we are not yet ready to understand.
If your product - even if in this case the product is little more than a prototype (literally: it looks like a prototype) - arouses emotions and stimulates people's memories then you have created a connection. You have overcome the shield of pure utility of an object and are stimulating a deeper and normally unreachable layer.
The reactions were first of all emotional and then reworked in a way typical of the mechanisms of childish reasoning: "it looks like", with the variants of "it reminds me of this or that" and then continued with quotations that were mainly found in popular culture. I count myself in this game, also because the first thought I had was that it resembled how I drew cars when I was six years old (I should have given more weight to this reaction from the beginning). A thousand people mentioned the "medium" that Homer devised for his car-maker brother, and that ruined his company. Others called it a zombie apocalypse vehicle, I thought of Mad Max and the fact that it seemed perfectly pertinent to that futuristic imaginary.
Musk did not present a pickup truck or a new concept of car. In many ways he presented a platform: something that can be different things or a starting point so much so that I thought his core business had become "Putting electric motors in anything".
Then a friend dispelled the clouds that didn't let me see how much genius there was in that "thing".
"I don't know how to say this. I like it because it's how the future was in 1972, because it's as desperate as the robot in Interstellar. Because peasants will die stepping on their heads on the edges, they'll close their fingers in those seamless slots. Because they'll try to shoot each other to see if the glass protects them. It's too far ahead for the backwards."
At first that "desperate Interstellar robot" distracted me ("Here's another perfect reference I hadn't caught", I thought) but then I realized that this friend's intuition was much deeper: that wasn't a car, it was something we couldn't understand yet.
The Cybertruck is a kind of grade zero of design and car. Someone noticed that you can build a 3D model with only 103 polygons (a door handle has more). As Joshua Topolsky called it, "he's the bastard son of a Delorean and a Hummer". He comes before the beauty treatment that a car would normally undergo (so much so that I immediately wondered if they would then draw it, maybe calmly) but he comes at the same time afterwards, in the sense that he doesn't need it, he's not even interested in being beautiful or looking like a beautiful car. He doesn't participate in the championship of other cars.
To evaluate it as a car has a thousand problems: how will that scratch-resistant bodywork behave with pedestrians? What about the occupants? Nobody would hope to crash into a non-deformable vehicle because all the impact would be absorbed by the person inside and not by the car. But being beyond any category, it's also useless to compare it with the rest of the cars. I would propose to see it as a manifesto of post-nuclear mobility (or post-apocalypse zombies, by choice). Mad Max, indeed. But not even this: it's really difficult to give it a name and a location. These times make you evaluate it as a contemporary object when it could come from the future and not even move. Who knows what it is, it doesn't even count.
Only one thing is certain: Musk has been able to evoke the child asleep in ourselves for decades. Maybe he comes from the playground of our childhood after a time travel along which he realized all the things we said we would do when we grew up knowing that we would never have done them. In fact, we don't believe him when he says he did them. Then he shows them to us and we have to admit that yes, he did them for real.
Elon Musk was a child like the rest of us. He had our dreams and drew them when he was six or so. Only then he made them come true. And I'm not talking about becoming the richest man in the world. I'm talking about making cars and rockets and conquering the space. He's reduced the distance between dream and reality, very often cancelling it out.
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