On a basic level, taking the red pill (or the blue pill, for the matter) is a reference to the moment in The Matrix when Neo must choose between swallowing the hard truth in the form of the red pill, or take the blue pill and remain in a state of blissful ignorance. (Spoiler: he takes the red pill)
The concept of 'taking the red pill' has struck a chord with everyone from leftists to "men's rights" activists.
But the meme is well known for its association with the alt-right.
To the group of hardcore conservatives who primarily communicate via websites like 4chan and Reddit, being "redpilled" in means rejecting previously held leftist social ideals and accepting a world view which is heavily socially conservative. To some, taking the red pill means accepting white supremacy, while to others it means realising that they live in a world that favours women over men.
There is no single definition of what being redpilled means, even amongst the alt-right. For instance, whilst it has been linked to racist ideologies, American conservative Candace Owens runs a YouTube channel called Red Pill Black, where she espouses conservatism for African-Americans.
So was Musk's tweet an endorsement of the alt-right, Republicans or Trump?
People certainly seemed to take it that way at the time. Grimes’s mother (a Canadian journalist) called him out on Twitter, and Trump’s daughter Ivanka gleefully accepted what she perceived as an endorsement.
But now Musk has confirmed that his “red pill” tweet was not an endorsement of Trump or any political agenda.
In an interview with the New York Times, Musk said that he did not have a political message behind the tweet:
No, it’s just: Accept reality as it is as opposed to what you wish it were.
On Ivanka’s quote-tweet, he said:
I think she was interpreting it through more of a political lens then it was intended.
This will no doubt be a blow for Trump, who has been complimentary of Musk, even describing him as “one of our great geniuses”. Musk sat on business advisory councils for Trump early in his administration but left once he removed America from the Paris climate agreement.
Musk tends to change his mind a fair bit when it comes to politics. Last week he threw his support behind Kanye West's bizarre campaign, before appearing to backtrack after West made several anti-abortion and anti-vaxx comments.
Anyway, Trump has until November to secure Musk's vote, so there's still time for an actual Twitter endorsement. And if 2020's shown us anything, it's to expect the unexpected.