The one-note nature of Ron DeSantis’s campaign is becoming increasingly apparent.
We can probably expect him to ban certain fish in Florida as well.
Remember the weird ad supporting DeSantis that I blogged about a few days ago?. There was a lot of rapid-fire imagery featuring popular culture memes that were unfamiliar to me and, I suspect, unfamiliar to many people of my generation. Ian Ward has provided an explainer for those who needed one.
To the average voter, this rapid-fire mishmash of images might seem like a political fever dream. But the video fits squarely within an emergent strain of an online conservative subset that focuses on LGBTQ issues and masculinity. This discourse, which emerged from an obscure corner of the internet sometimes called the “manosphere,” relies on a heavily self-referential set of memes to convey its message, a message that is almost always drenched in irony. It can be hard to discern which images are supposed to be taken seriously and which are just designed to provoke outrage and troll the viewer. Yet beneath the irony lies a coherent – if deeply intolerant – argument: The embrace of LGBTQ people is part of a broader plot in society to destroy traditional masculinity.
For the most part, this irony-laden variety of homophobia remains a relatively fringe position on the online right. But its prominence in DeSantis’ latest campaign video suggests that it could be seeping into the conservative mainstream, and that might pay dividends among a group of Republican voters. “After all, [DeSantis’s backers] are seeking out the Trump voter,” said Daniel Adleman, an assistant professor of writing and rhetoric at the University of Toronto who was written about the overlap between pop-culture and far-right ideologies. “They are trying to demonstrate that DeSantis doesn’t just talk the talk, but he walks the walk – that Trump is all full of lip service, but that DeSantis is the one who makes good on quasi-Trumpian promises.”
To help piece it all together, here’s your definitive guide to the memes and images from DeSantis’ recent video. This might be the first time you’re encountering them, but it likely won’t be the last if you pay close attention on Twitter, Threads, or whatever social new social media platform launches next week.
Ward then goes on to give a fairly detailed breakdown of the ad. The one meme that intrigued me is that of GigaChad.
This meme, depicting a chiseled bodybuilder with a massive chin and a manicured 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 refer to a stereotypical alpha male.
Since its introduction, though, the meme has come to symbolize an ideal male form that, according to certain strains of thinking on the right, is being wiped out by the alleged feminization of American culture and media. Consider it the manosphere’s statue of David.
Serial sex abuser Trump is, of course, hitting back in his inimitable style of lies and insults. He did say, with some accuracy, that DeSantis has no personality.
It is going to be a long, ugly race for the GOP nomination. And we are still six months away from the first primary.