Here’s $75, Give Me One Frosty Tesla Cyberbeer Please GZZT MZZZZT ZZZZZTT ERROR ERROR FATAL ERROR
11:24 AM EST on November 16, 2023
You might not guess that Tesla Inc., famously the electric car company controlled by Elon Musk, would be a repository of beer brewing, bottling, or distribution expertise. After all, making and bottling and selling beer all seem like very different processes than making and selling electric cars! At the very least I do not think that electric car-making involves wort at any point.
You might then think that for this reason Tesla would, or anyway should, stick to making electric cars, and stay out of making and bottling and selling beer. Ah, but you see, you are suffering from a reasonable misunderstanding. Tesla's real business isn't making and selling electric cars any more than its real business is making and selling beer. Tesla's real business—like that of several of Musk's other companies—is creating opportunities for the sweatiest, most credulous, most eagerly bootlicking shit-for-brains who have ever lived to give appalling sums of money to Elon Musk in exchange for evidence that they have done so.
Tesla's cars are infamous for their visibly shoddy assembly, their poor safety record, the vast echoing chasm between their purported and actual capabilities, their dismal visual aesthetic. SpaceX's rockets often explode and rain debris on the planet. The Boring Company is an explicit and sneering fraud. Twitter is the internet's overflowing septic tank. No matter! If anything, these facts add to these companies' appeal to Musk's core customer base of sweaty Burning Man crypto-market mutants and fashy Joe Rogan enthusiasts. Embracing the man's uniformly crummy offerings, despite their manifest shittiness, feels to a certain stripe of desperate grasping pay-pig loser—but only ever feels—like early-adopter cool, like getting in on the ground floor of something, like being Bold and Venturesome. If Teslas weren't ugly shabby pieces of crap, they'd just be normal cars; buying one would just be buying a car and not an Official Elon Musk Society Of Futurist Sociopaths decoder ring. All a blue check on Twitter means now is that you have given some money to Elon Musk, and that's exactly why latter-day Twitter's blue-checks buy it.
The thing is, society in the 21st century, so deep into capitalism's digestion of humanity and the world, is just an image of various rich guys projected gigantically onto a blank, featureless floor. It has neither depth nor dynamism; it doesn't even really exist except as an arrangement of shadow. Mostly people don't even remember what it was like to live in an actual society, one that actually did anything or provided anything, one that could be interacted with in meaningful ways; more and more of them doubt that such a thing ever actually existed or could exist. All anybody does here is just decide where on that projected image to stand. Standing on the Elon Musk part of that image is the choice reflecting a certain kind of ambition and upward mobility; it's not clear how or even why this might make you rich, nor are you expected to believe it will; you are expected to be grateful for the chance merely to indicate your support of Elon Musk's image, as a concept. I lost my grip on this crappy metaphor somewhere back there, but there's no turning back now! We're off into the future.
Anyway. The beer. There's a beer! The beer is "Cyberbeer," named for the Tesla company's ugly and stupid Cybertruck and sold in bottles theoretically reflecting that truck's (ugly and stupid) design; like everything else by Tesla this has been done poorly and with corny taste, so that what the bottles actually share with the Cybertruck, designwise, is the mere fact of being very dumb looking.
Maybe that's why the promotional image shows the black bottles against a black background, like an ashamed Marlon Brando trying to hide his girth in Apocalypse Now. Or, more likely, this was just the design choice of a dull clod with the aesthetic sensibility of a culturally destitute 13-year-old boy. I can feel myself getting annoyed at the act of drinking beer out of a bottle shaped like that—how it'd want to plunge out of your grip, how its weight distribution would be all fucked-up, how it'd be awkward to sip and how it'd spurt and barf its way out in big stupid lurches if you tipped it beyond a shallow sipping angle—just from looking at it. How it would be like drinking a bottle of beer made by ... well, by somebody who didn't care much about beer, or about the people who'd drink a beer, and who certainly had no interest in giving their own beer a test run before selling it to others. If it happened to give me a buzz I think I might go ahead and start driving toward the hospital in case it turned out to be mycotoxicosis.
Here I want to reiterate that however many traits Cyberbeer might share with beer, it isn't really a beer so much as a way of telling the world that you like Elon Musk very much. (It's also, appropriately, only a Tesla product on the outside: The beer itself, the actual liquid included in this enterprise more-or-less coincidentally, comes from a California company called Buzzrock Brewing.) Accordingly, Cyberbeer isn't priced like beer, a thing that it isn't. A two-pack of the stuff, including two angular ceramic mugs that would be nightmares as actual drinking vessels, runs $150. This way not everybody can or will have it, giving Elon Musk's fans all the inducement they need to buy it.
Is the Cyberbeer good, as beer? As a bottle of beer? That feels like an acutely ridiculous thing to even wonder about, given all I have just written. But also: The beer seems pretty bad.
Another Twitter user—blue-checked, naturally—posted a very gross photo of what's apparently a just-opened Cyberbeer bottle with nasty red-orange gunk all around the lip, asking, "Should you drink the rust from the Tesla Cyberbeer top?" Another user (blue check? Check) posted an "unboxing" video for this Tesla Cyberbeer, fawning over the Cybertruck logo on the box and the high quality of the ceramic in the mug—and then posted again, hours later, affirming the rusty bottle and "hot garbage" beer: "It's a good collector's item," he wrote. "But don't waste your time drinking it. Go buy something better like a Bud Light."
A mental game I like to play sometimes is to imagine how different my life would have to be, at minimum, before a certain choice made by another person would make sense for me. This past summer we were at the beach and a really jarring number of people were driving around in those weird three-wheeled Slingshot cars, which they'd evidently rented, expensively, from a place in that beach town. And I tried to imagine how rich I would have to be, and how much vacation time I'd have to have, before I would arrive at the idea, Hey, while we're down here by the ocean, let's spend a lot of money to rent a three-wheeled car for some reason. Where I arrived is that I'd have to be as rich and unencumbered as a very successful pro athlete nearing the end of their playing career. Chris Paul, basically. At a Chris Paul level of wealth and leisure, I figure I could probably fulfill, exhaustively, enough of the other stuff I'd want to do on a beach vacation to arrive at the idea of renting a three-wheeled car. (Presumably any NBA player much taller than Chris Paul would have their own reasons for not wanting to rent a small sports car, such as not fitting in one.)
Where I am going with this is: How big would my home have to be, and how rich would I have to be, before a roughly shoebox-sized vessel containing two ugly unusable mugs and two rusty bottles of bad-tasting beer would, by virtue of the various logos on it, be something I could regard as "a good collector's item"? Assuming the reason to collect something is to have that thing.
The answer, I think, is that I would have to be the Sultan of Brunei. I figure if I were the Sultan of Brunei, and lived in the Sultan of Brunei's roughly 1,800-room house, I could theoretically collect enough of the various things I might have the impulse to collect in my lifetime to get around to thinking, You know what this collection needs? A box of two undrinkable beers that you buy as a way of helping to make Elon Musk $150 richer. That would make a good item for me to collect. At a Sultan of Brunei–level of wealth and living space, I would have enough room that the idea of occupying any of it with this box of beer might begin to seem not obviously horrible. After all, how often am I, the Sultan of Brunei, going to bump into any particular shoebox-sized thing in one of my 1,800 rooms?
Even then, this would be a collection item akin to, say, a painting by John Wayne Gacy: Appalling, ethically haunted, shameful to display or discuss, and spiritually radioactive, so that I would always feel just a little bit sick in my own home (even if I did not imbibe it). The only reason to do it would be as affirmation of my Sultan of Brunei–ness.
Are you the Sultan of Brunei? No! You are not the Sultan of Brunei, nor am I, and neither, I strongly suspect, is that guy way back up there who said the Cyberbeer was a good collector's item. Your home, like mine, falls within the normal range of home sizes. It's a pretty wide range. But still. From the absolute bottom of my heart, I say to you: My friend, there is no square foot in your home, anywhere, suited best to house a box of beer you do not intend to drink, but intend to keep, indefinitely, out of Tesla completism. There is no square foot on Earth that would not be poisoned by such a use. If there were, the thing to put there would not be Cyberbeer but rather an exorcist.