Grimes Admits Being Called a 'Class Traitor' Is an Accurate Description

The news of Grimes and Elon Musk dating was the sort of 21st-century Mad Libs phrase that didn’t make sense then and still doesn’t since they conceived absurdly named children. The thing that made their union so bizarre is that their brands’ social presentations seemed entirely at odds.

Musk is the billionaire tech capitalist with an increasingly shaky reputation for the way he treats people in his companies and personal life. Grimes was an alternative star, bubbling up from the Montreal underground as one of the first breakthrough artists born and raised on the internet. Now, the musician admits being called a “class traitor” is an accurate description.

Grimes was a very different artist when she first reached prominence

Few things are more exciting to witness than an artist on the ascent. Finding someone when they’re on the brink of a creative breakthrough isn’t just fulfilling because of their output. Creators on that scale aren’t so removed from the experiences listeners have daily. There’s a relatability to their success that makes their newfound triumph even more enjoyable. 

Grimes (real name Claire Boucher) was a beneficiary of this dynamic at the beginning of her career. Visions and Art Angels are great albums, but her politics also appealed to her growing audience. In her younger days, she and a then-boyfriend attempted to sail a houseboat they made out of junk parts down the Mississippi River. She used to have “anti-imperialist” in her Twitter bio and supported Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

Elon Musk had donated to Republican and Democratic campaigns and spent 2021 fending off accusations of sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and a disregard for social distancing guidelines during the height of the pandemic at Tesla. And that’s before childishly trolling Sanders on Twitter for pushing for the uber-rich to pay more taxes. 

To see Grimes date that person was dizzying enough, let alone defend him against older accusations that Musk actively fought unionizing movements inside the company, Insider reported.

Those decisions changed the calculus for what it meant to be a Grimes fan. To some, she is now a class traitor who has thrown away her previous, community-minded beliefs after moving up the economic food chain.   

Grimes doesn’t disagree with the idea she’s a class traitor

For better and mostly worse, Grimes can’t help but be too online, so she is accutely aware of how the conversation around her has changed. Recent interviews indicate she doesn’t seem to care. In a digital cover story for Rolling Stone, the musician credited her experience with ego death for helping her become immune to the negative discourse.

“I’ve been canceled, like, four or five times,” she said. “It’s sort of hard, but then it actually makes it more fun. I was [getting so] worried about ‘You have to live up to this standard,’ and there’s something very freeing in having disappointed people.”

In a recent Vanity Fair profile, she struck a more reconciliatory tone about how her political shift affects her fanbase’s opinions.

“I feel really trapped between two worlds,” Grimes said. “I used to be so far left that I went through a period of living without currency, living outside … I mean, when people say I’m a class traitor, that is not … an inaccurate description. I was deeply from the far left, and I converted to being essentially a capitalist Democrat. A lot of people are understandably upset.”

Grimes understands the dissonance her romance creates in other people. Still, she believes her partnership with one of the world’s loudest billionaires and her support for a Democratic socialist can coexist. No one outside her orbit appears to agree.  

Her ‘jarringly unwoke’ grandpa initially influenced her views

The teenage Claire couldn’t have imagined she’d be in this position now. Her life in Vancouver was chaotic in a different sense. She mostly remains evasive about the details of her young life, but Grimes admits she began doing drugs in middle school and sometimes paid for those substances by doing homework for Taiwanese loan sharks. Multiple friends died due to opiate overdoses. 

Amid the tumult, she was also a profoundly radical, straight-A student involved in the Gay/Straight Alliance chapter at her school. Her decisions and interests were highly influenced by her paternal grandfather, who grew up poor, lives in a remote part of British Columbia, and is described by Grimes as “crazy” and “jarringly unwoke,” she told Vanity Fair. 

“My grandpa is hard as f**k,” she said. “Super antiestablishment. Teach yourself. Don’t rely on other people to teach you anything.”

Grimes internalized those beliefs, both as a political ideology and an artistic philosophy. She is a proudly independent artist who writes and produces much of her music. When she began playing live, she slept in tents when she couldn’t afford hotel rooms. 

But Grimes is much more of an optimist than her cynical grandad. Even as she and Musk disagree on whether trans people deserve the right to choose their pronouns, Grimes still insists she believes in the SpaceX founder’s vision for the future. Their union seems based less on overlapping beliefs about how governments should run and more on mutual niche interests. What other couple’s origin story involves a pun about Roko’s basilisk? Their romance remains dumbfounding in many ways, but love(?) takes many forms.  

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