In my time working at a bookstore in Princeton, NJ, I weathered three Walter Isaacson releases: “Do we have more Musk downstairs?” These glossy bricks appeared every two to three years, addressing generic and totemic enough subjects to make reasonably anonymous holiday gifts. I mention Princeton only to speak to a specific slice of Isaac’s demographic, which is to say, university people for whom “genius” means “successful in a non-partisan way.” The town—like the author, perhaps—has good literary intentions that go awry when the moneyed attentions show up; as if “success” is any indication of relative worth, as if a biography of Kissinger could be non-partisan.
That these framings might be mutually profitable as Hollywood’s biopicking—see Steve Jobs (2015)—is a basically foregone conclusion. They reproduce the Exceptional Man narrative while maintaining enough researched temperance so as to not appear solely an endorsement. They read their subjects, if not the world that insists that they are exceptional. And so: Variety confirms that a Musk biopic is being developed by A24, with Issacson’s 2023 book about the mogul serving as the basis for the screenplay. Darren Aronofsky, no stranger to parables about tortured exceptionalism, has been tapped to direct. Rogen as Rogan? Let the reckless speculation begin.
Musk has also responded to the news, as seen below.