Why is Elon Musk telling his Twitter followers to 'take the red pill'?
TORONTO -- A cryptic tweet from Tesla billionaire Elon Musk that appeared to reference The Matrix has garnered approval from U.S. President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump, but it is not known exactly what message it's intended to convey.
On Sunday, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO tweeted a confusing combination of a rose emoji, normally associated with the Democratic Socialists of America, and a message that said: "take the red pill."
Musk's "red pill" tweet appears to be a reference to 1999's The Matrix, in which rebel leader Morpheus, played by Laurence Fishburne, tells Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, that he has been living in a computer simulation.
Morpheus offers Neo a choice: "You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes."
Musk has previously said that humans may be living in a computer simulation, and has tweeted other Matrix memes before.
While the "red pill" has long been used as a metaphor for accepting harsh realities over blissful ignorance (the "blue pill"), it is not known what Musk's tweet is actually referring to as he does not explain the message.
Fans of the film have found symbolism in the "red pill" to represent the harsh reality of gender transition with its directors -- who came out as transgender years after the film's release -- weaving their own sense of alienation and displacement into the story.
However, the term "red pill" has become synonymous with a right-wing political awakening online in recent years. The term was first used in this context in 2013, by men's rights groups in a subreddit called TheRedPill. According to the forum, those who take the "red pill" believe that it is men, not women, who are disenfranchised by society and that feminism is a dangerous political ideology.
Some social media users are speculating that Musk is dangerously claiming that taking the "red pill" would wake up those who aren't aware that the coronavirus is a hoax, despite there being no medical or scientific evidence to support such a claim.
Musk's "red pill" message comes after weeks of him tweeting COVID-19 conspiracy theories, questioning virus death rate statistics and getting into arguments with officials about reopening his California Tesla factory, calling stay-at-home orders "fascist."
It is not known if Trump's retweet acknowledging that she has taken the "red pill" is an endorsement of defying coronavirus orders, which she has done herself, or an encouragement of right-wing politics.
She may also not fully understand what the "red pill" signifies in online communities and her response may have only been written to strengthen her connection to the billionaire.
Matrix co-creator Lilly Wachowski was quick to respond to Musk and Trump for using the reference, cursing both of them out.
Wachowski followed her response with a second tweet encouraging people to support Chicago's BraveSpaceAlliance, a Black- and trans-led LGBTQIA centre that is working to providing relief to the transgender, non-binary and intersex people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wachowski came out as transgender in 2016, following fellow Matrix director and sibling Lana Wachowski who came out in 2012.
Musk's partner's mother was not pleased with his "red pill" message either.
Grimes' mother, Sandy Garossino, reportedly accused him of "blaring MRA [men's rights activist] bullshit", in a now-deleted tweet.