*** DEBUG END ***

TV review: Elon Musk: Superhero or supervillain?, Prince of Muck, and The Terror: Infamy

27 May 2022


Elon Musk: Superhero or supervillain? (Channel 4, Monday of last week) spoke to colleagues of the billionaire entrepreneur

Elon Musk: Superhero or supervillain? (Channel 4, Monday of last week) spoke to colleagues of the billionaire entrepreneur

BEING the world’s richest man must obviously bring the odd problem, and Elon Musk: Superhero or supervillain? (Channel 4, Monday of last week) sought to bring some of them to us, particularly relevant as he seeks to purchase Twitter (or possibly not). Even “man” might undersell him: to his detractors, he is a demon incarnate, while his supporters, overwhelmed by his vision and inspiration, less a fan base than a cult, offer quasi-religious adulation, and accord him semi-divine status.

Colleagues attest to his positive approach, his refusal to admit any possibility of failure, limitless ambition, addiction to Big Ideas (many of them — at least broadly — entirely laudable, such as saving planet Earth). This model of apparent success is not unfamiliar to religion — exhibiting the signs of the super-evangelist, and building up (for the best of all possible reasons) the largest possible congregation, eager to lap up every honeyed word and offer sacrificial support.

Such triumph — held up, the more cynical of us suspect, by our hierarchy as the pattern for which we clergy should all strive — has, as always, its dark shadow. Musk’s championing of absolutely free speech is curiously compromised by the gagging of employees who dare to whistle-blow on conditions in his vast factory, where accusations of racism, bullying, and criminality are rife. His billions are devoted to the colonisation of space, to promote his conviction that humankind’s destiny is to be an interplanetary species.

If this golden future is heralded by the experience of his Tesla self-driving electric cars, it might be wiser to stay at home.

There was a contrasting portrait of male domination in Prince of Muck (BBC4, Wednesday of last week). Bowed and painfully slow at 80, Lawrence MacEwen’s family has owned the spectacularly beautiful, if harsh and unforgiving, Inner Hebridean isle of Muck (population less than 40) since 1896. Daringly slow, almost static, it chronicles the decline and confusions not just of old age, but of the passing of an era of farming methods and absolute relationship to the land.

Mr MacEwen has given the farm to his son, but refuses to give up the herd of beloved cattle, which he tends by hand. Despite his wife’s constant attempts to instil sense and reason, he interferes in everything, seeking to retain absolute headship. This is King Lear: selfish, cantankerous, noble failure, shot through with tragic greatness — simply wonderful television.

Leaving one island to settle in another, far smaller, set the scene for The Terror: Infamy (BBC2, from 20 May). These fishing families have left Japan for a better life in the United States, but Pearl Harbor is attacked, and all Japanese are brutally interned. This dynastic love story, impressive but flawed, is spiced up by supernatural horror: they carry with them a malevolent spirit who wreaks vengeance wherever she chooses.

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events

6-7 September 2022
Preaching as Pilgrimage conference
From the College of Preachers.

27-28 September 2022
humbler church Bigger God conference
The HeartEdge Conference in Manchester includes the Theology Slam Live Final.

More events

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four* articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)

*Until the end of June: we’re doubling the number of free articles to eight, to celebrate the publication of our Platinum Jubilee double issue.