Introducing: Critics at Large - The Myth Making of Elon Musk

Little Gold Men by Vanity Fair

Sep 29 2023 • 13 mins

Elon Musk’s presence in our lives is inescapable: his cars roam our streets, his satellites orbit our skies, and his purchase of X—formerly known as Twitter—has reshaped the social-media landscape. The staff writers Vinson Cunningham, Naomi Fry, and Alexandra Schwartz discuss a recent biography of Musk, by Walter Isaacson, tracing the familiar archetype of the genius tech founder from the nineteenth-century robber baron to “Batman” ’s Bruce Wayne. The critics examine how, in recent years, the idea of the unimpeachable Silicon Valley founder has lost its sheen. Narratives such as the 2022 series “WeCrashed” tell the story of startup founders who make lofty promises, only to watch their empires crumble when those promises are shown to be empty. “It dovetails for me with the disillusionment of millennials,” Fry says, pointing to the dark mood that the 2007-08 financial crisis and the 2016 election brought to the country. “There’s no longer this blind belief that the tech founder is a genius who should be wholly admired with no reservations.”  New episodes drop every Thursday. Follow Critics at Large wherever you get your podcasts: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit