We’ve just got more evidence that Elon Musk is kind of delusional.
If the billionaire entrepreneur’s recent claim that we all live in a video game wasn’t enough to convince you of this, then consider exhibit two: Musk’s totally embarrassing exchange with “Silicon Valley” star T.J. Miller in 2014.
Miller, who plays the startup founder Erlich Bachman on the show, met Musk at an after-party for “Silicon Valley” in Redwood City, California. Musk, who is used to getting his way, apparently assumed Miller would show some deference to the Silicon Valley giant. Miller didn’t.
The actor said he refused to toady to the billionaire entrepreneur and didn’t even recognize the guy. When Musk offered to give Miller some advice about the show, the”Silicon Valley” star dismissed it out of hand.
And when a woman approached the pair asking for a photo, it wasn’t Musks’s mug she wanted, but Miller’s.
Here’s the full, side-splitting exchange, which Miller recounted to The New Yorker’s Andrew Marantz on Thursday:
“Some Valley big shots have no idea how to react to the show,” Miller told me. “They can’t decide whether to be offended or flattered. And they’re mystified by the fact that actors have a kind of celebrity that they will never have—there’s no rhyme or reason to it, but that’s the way it is, and it kills them.” Miller met Musk at the after-party in Redwood City. “I think he was thrown by the fact that I wasn’t being sycophantic — which I couldn’t be, because I didn’t realize who he was at the time. He said, ‘I have some advice for your show,’ and I went, ‘No thanks, we don’t need any advice,’ which threw him even more. And then, while we’re talking, some woman comes up and says ‘Can I have a picture?’ and he starts to pose — it was kinda sad, honestly — and instead she hands the camera to him and starts to pose with me. It was, like, Sorry, dude, I know you’re a big deal — and, in his case, he actually is a big deal — but I’m the guy from ‘Yogi Bear 3-D,’ and apparently that’s who she wants a picture with.”
Then you meet the guy who played Ranger Jones in “Yogi Bear” — and he gets all the love. Ouch.
The exchange was kind of perfect, though. MIller’s character on “Silicon Valley” is an arrogant startup founder whose swaggering confidence makes him a pretty close ringer for Musk, if not an outright parody of the billionaire’s puffed-up persona.
Miller is definitely having a moment, but he still doesn’t enjoy the kind of adoration lavished on Musk by the (predominantly tech) media. The fact that a TV actor appears more famous than the man who seems to think he’s single-handedly changing the world makes the satire of “Silicon Valley” all the more biting.
It’s not uncommon for titans of the real world to get eclipsed by their more charismatic on-screen imitators. Think of the way Stephen Colbert‘s satirical punditry overshadowed folks like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity at Fox News. But what’s perfect about Miller’s exchange with Musk is that it captures precisely the attitude that “Silicon Valley” so elegantly skewers — the inflated sense of self we’ve come to associate with San Francisco Bay Area tech types.
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