Over the weekend, Ron DeSantis’s rapid response team shared a video railing against twice-impeached and twice-indicted former President Donald Trump for previous expressions of support for the LGBTQ community, proudly contrasting it with DeSantis’s outward crusade against America’s LGBTQ population.
The video begins by focusing on Trump’s remarks following the Pulse nightclub shooting, which left 49 people dead in DeSantis’s state. “I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens,” Trump is heard saying. The video then touches on a few instances of Trump expressing support for Caitlyn Jenner being able to use whatever bathroom she wanted and for transgender women being able to compete in Miss Universe.
After the opening, the video shared by DeSantis’s campaign nails its transition with Tyler the Creator—who once called himself “gay as fuck”—yelling “PSYCHE,” to begin the contrast between Trump’s apparently woke record to DeSantis’s hard-line stances. And the rest of the video is somehow even more insane.
The remainder of the video is set to a music track straight out of the coldest and most socially disconnected corners of YouTube and TikTok (the Andrew Tate cinematic universe). It highlights headlines about DeSantis’s relentless attack on gay people and phrases like “DeSantis is public enemy No. 1,” or “DeSantis is evil,” aimed at showing the left’s hatred of the Florida governor.
The ad is also a strange pop-culture pastiche and relies heavily on images from films and television. There’s Christian Bale as American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman (an elite Wall Street mover and shaker, fan of Donald Trump, prep school and Harvard alum, and also, serial killer, rapist, and cannibal). There’s Brad Pitt starring in Troy as the Greek hero Achilles (who, in the Iliad, has been interpreted to have gone on a vengeful rampage after the death of his gay lover, Patroclus). There’s Cilian Murphy as Thomas Shelby in Peaky Blinders (a show that depicted the rise of fascism and nationalism, as well as the literal and psychological ravages of war and violence). And, finally, there’s Leonardo DeCaprio as Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street, in which the actor portrayed a coked-up Wall Street fraudster who celebrates greed and fraud. (Tyler the Creator also once said he “one hundred percent would go gay for ’96 Leo.”)
The Florida governor has been portrayed by some as a potential moderate alternative to Trump. Some conservative groups, like Log Cabin Republicans, a national organization for “L.G.B.T conservatives and allies,” have denounced the video as “divisive and desperate,” though DeSantis’s rivals for the nomination have remained mum. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg offered a succinct rebuttal to DeSantis on Sunday: