The city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, is prostrating itself before the altar of Elon Musk in a very literal way in order to convince the billionaire to open a factory there, instead of in Texas. On Wednesday, the city unveiled a seven-story-tall gold-colored statue of the man.
The statue, which previously represented an oil worker, is the sixth-tallest in the continental U.S. and is known as the Golden Driller. Now, it has been given a terrifying visage that sort of looks like Musk and the wording "TULSA" emblazoned on the driller's belt buckle has been augmented to say, "TESLA." The Golden Driller is also Oklahoma's state monument, which I guess for now at least makes a statue of Elon Musk Oklahoma's state monument.
According to Independent.co.uk, the monument's transformation was pulled off by the Tesla Owners of Oklahoma and supported by Tulsa mayor GT Bynum. It's an attempt to woo Musk into building a Gigafactory producing his luxury electric vehicles there. As Jalopnik pointed out, the city has at times turned the monument into a gaudy billboard. Previously, Bynum essentially promised a policing contract to Musk for kitted-out Cybertrucks over Twitter if he built his factory there, which seems like an anti-democratic move. Then again, so does turning a state monument into a golden idol to a billionaire, so what do I know?
The move is so absurd that one hardly knows how to react, but turning a representation of a worker (even though it was originally built by an oil company in the 50s) into an effigy of a union-busting factory owner coercing people to return to the line during a pandemic is probably not a good look.
In a long history of cities bending over backwards to cater to wealthy business owners in Hunger Games-style competitions, this might just be the most extreme example.