An Ultimate Guide to All the Weird Internet Memes in Ron DesSantis’ Anti-LGBTQ Rights Ad

For the most part, this tongue-in-cheek variety of homophobia remains a relatively marginal position on the online right. But her prominence in DeSantis’s latest campaign video suggests it could seep into the conservative mainstream and could pay dividends among a group of Republican voters. After all, [DeSantiss backers] they’re looking for elector Trump, said Daniel Adleman, an assistant professor of writing and rhetoric at the University of Toronto who has written on the overlap between pop culture and far-right ideologies. They’re trying to show that DeSantis doesn’t just talk, he takes the walk that Trump is full of words, but that DeSantis is the one who keeps almost Trumpian promises.

To help put it all together, here’s your ultimate guide to the memes and images from DeSantis’ recent video. This might be your first time meeting them, but it probably won’t be the last if you pay close attention on Twitter, Threads, or whatever new social media platform launches next week.

Giga Chad

This meme, depicting a chiseled bodybuilder with a massive chin and well-trimmed beard, is a staple of discourse in the manosphere. Often referred to as GigaChad, the name borrows from the popular internal slang word chad, which is used to refer to a stereotypical alpha male. The origin of the meme is shrouded in mystery, it is said to have been taken from a series of photoshopped images of bodybuilders taken by a Russian photographer, but it first made its way online in 2017, when a version of the image is been posted on the popular message board 4chan. The post introducing the meme defined GigaChad as “The perfect human specimen destined to lead us against the reptilians,” a nod to a fringe conspiracy theory that posits that the world is run by reptilian humanoids.

Since its introduction, however, the meme has become the symbol of an ideal male form which, according to certain currents of right-wing thought, is about to be swept away by the alleged feminization of American culture and media. Consider it the manospheres statue of David.

Patrick Batman

You might recognize it from the 2000 movie American psycho based on the 1991 novel by Bret Easton Ellis, but the character of Christian Bales has taken on a whole new life in the manosphere. In the film, Bateman is a chauvinistic, status-obsessed Wall Street banker who may (or may not) lead a secret life as a serial killer and cannibal. (The film leaves open the possibility that Bateman’s murderous activities are part of an elaborate and delusional fantasy.) Ironically, Bateman idolizes Donald Trump, a symbol of New York’s well-heeled. new rich during the 80s.

Online, Bateman and other Wall Street icons like The Wolf of Wall StreetThe Jordan Belfort (who also makes a brief appearance in DeSantis’ video) have come to symbolize the set of hypermasculine virtues that the manosphere is touting. If you’re a superficial reader of Patrick Bateman, he represents a Reagan-era avatar, cocky, shameless, brash man who is able to make the best possible use of neoliberalism as it existed in the 1980s and, by extension, as it exists now, Adleman said. I could see that he could appeal to the alt-right 4chan crowd in this post-Trumpian era.

Yes Chad

Giga isn’t the only Chad popular with this crowd. In mid-2019, an image of a cartoon character with blond hair, blue eyes, and a thick blond beard started making its way onto Twitter and other online message boards. The illustration’s caption consisted of a single word: Yes. Since then, the image has become the template for a universe of memes known as Yes Chad, featuring illustrations of yes men, always men projecting an air of masculine authority and steely masculine confidence. (Sometimes, the meme is paired with an illustration of a blonde woman in a blue dress, symbolizing the so-called trans wife.) The meme also carries some not-so-subtle racist undertones, as it depicts the ideal man as an Aryan archetype.

In the video, meanwhile, a Yes Chad-style cartoon of DeSantis flashes between a clip of the governor giving a speech and a scene of him walking with his clique. What, exactly, DeSantis is saying yes to is left for the viewer to decode.

Thomas Shelby

The fictional protagonist of British television drama Peaky BlindersTommy Shelby played by Cillian Murphy is the leader of a criminal gang who evades the law and rival gangs in post-war England to expand his criminal empire. But online, Murphy’s character has become associated with the trope of the sigma male, a type of man who, in contrast to the stereotypical alpha male who sits atop a social hierarchy, has transcended social norms to play to his own accord. set of rules. A quick Google search turns up pages of YouTube videos with titles like 12 Reasons Why THOMAS SHELBY is the latest SIGMA EVIL. (In a declaration released Wednesday, the team behind Peaky Blinders disavowed any association with the DeSantis ad.)

Presumably, the comparison between Shelby and DeSantis is meant to highlight the latter’s willingness to play dirty and blatant conservative conventions like, say, fighting with Disney or sending migrant planes to Marthas Vineyard and California.

Bodybuilders

I’m going to leave aside the weirdness of trying to prove your manhood by posting a video that blends images of you between oiled and shirtless bodybuilders, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said last weekend when asked about the video of DeSantis apparently he was referring to several shots of sleek looking male bodybuilders flexing their bulging muscles. But in certain corners of the online where bodybuilding’s popularity is on the rise, it’s not strange at all. For a possible explanation for this trend, look no further than the much-discussed Tucker Carlson documentary The end of men, who advanced the argument that the destruction of men’s bodies through poor diet and poor exercise habits is part of a larger globalist plot to take over the world. Understood in this context, rebuilding a man’s physique is not only good for his health, it is also a vital first step towards toppling the power of the corrupt global elite.

DeSantis hasn’t disclosed whether weightlifting is a big part of his recent weight-loss efforts, but he’s definitely leaned into the anti-elite rhetoric attached to the bodybuilding fad during the campaign.

Achilles


Is that Brad Pitt watching from behind that bronze helmet? Yes yes it is. As movie buffs and mythology nerds will know, Pitt played the ancient Greek hero Achilles in the 2004 film Troybased on Homer’s epic poem the Iliad. Like in IliadPitts Achilles emerges as the film’s hero, bursting onto the battlefield near the end of the conflict to avenge the death of his comrade Patroclus at the hands of the Trojan hero Hector.

As many online commentators have pointed out, there is a touching irony in a video aimed at LGBTQ people including an image of Achilles, as many scholars have interpreted Achilles’ friendship with Patroclus as a type of same-sex relationship. But the Achilles valorization fits neatly into a broader far-right obsession with ancient Rome and Greece, which some conservatives consider the cradle of Western civilization. Have you ever heard of the Bronze Age mentality? We bet the creators of this video have.


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