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The Reel Life: Farting unicorn edition

28 Jun 2018

We checked the news this morning and the first headline we saw was "Elon Musk drawn into farting unicorn dispute with potter."

Reader, we thought we were still asleep and having some sort of absurdist dream about being on Twitter. (You'd think we'd be used to this feeling by now, because Twitter, but this was worse than usual.) But eventually our curiosity got the better of us and we clicked through, and it is a real story.

The short version is that Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, member of the notorious "PayPal Mafia," and libertarian technofuturist, once tweeted a picture of a mug by ceramic artist Tom Edwards. The mug had a cartoon of a farting unicorn on it and the caption "Electric cars are good for the environment because electricity comes from magic." While the initial photo of the actual mug drew some welcome attention to Edwards' wares, the farting unicorn appears to have become something of an inside joke at Tesla. The electric car company has since then used knockoffs of the image to promote its electric cars, without crediting or paying Edwards, and it has now become a whole thing.

In our pre-coffee daze, the most interesting detail in the actual case is that Edwards' daughter, who has been posting on social media calling out Musk for the use of her father's work, is "Lisa Prank."

Not Lisa Frank, the artist responsible for the rainbows-and-technicolor-animals designs that have famously adorned many a schoolgirl's Trapper Keeper over the years, but Lisa Prank, like Lisa Frank but also playing a mean joke on somebody (in this case, us before we'd had our coffee this morning).

While the Guardian, in true Guardian fashion, reported on this kerfuffle by putting it in a full analytical context of Tesla's other controversies and the struggles facing small artists under late capitalism, we'd like to invite you to just stare at the headlines here for a solid five minutes, like we did, and then maybe stare at the farting unicorn for a little while. It's quite a head trip! Then, go get some coffee.

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