The New York Times posted a cartoon depicting US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin as a gay couple. The video has received harsh criticism and has been called “homophobic” for its use of gay people as a joke.
Although the video was posted in the opinion section, many people were still upset that the cartoon turned being gay into a punchline.
The post was shared on Twitter with the caption: “In this episode of Trump Bites, Donald Trump’s not-so-secret admiration for Vladimir Putin plays out in a teenager’s bedroom, where the fantasies of this forbidden romance come to life.” Audio from the video is authentic.
In this episode of Trump Bites, Donald Trump’s not-so-secret admiration for Vladimir Putin plays out in a teenager’s bedroom, where the fantasies of this forbidden romance come to life. https://t.co/h5gpVJzj69 pic.twitter.com/f4aBEOfRYt
— NYT Opinion (@nytopinion) July 16, 2018
In the video, Trump is preparing for a date with Putin- who arrives at his door bulked up and bare-chested. The two go for a ride in a convertible, where Trump reaches for Putin’s hand. The car suddenly transforms into a unicorn and they are surrounded by rainbows, butterflies and hearts.
Trump’s voice enters the background and the two are suddenly kissing. The cartoon depicts their tongues entangling and Trump pinching Putin’s nipples. The cartoon ends with Trump back in his room after their date. His legs are kicking, like a teenage schoolgirl, and he seems to have enjoyed himself. Audio of Trump saying, “I think our country does a lot of killing also,” is played while the cartoon Trump shoots his television with a gun.
The New York Times’ tweet and video received immediate backlash. It was criticised for using same-sex relationships and toxic masculinity as a joke.
Phillip Picardi, who’s profile states they are the Chief Content Officer at Them and Teen Vogue wrote, “This is homophobic. It is implying that being gay is an insult for both of these men. It implies that being gay would emasculate them. It implies that calling them gay together would anger them and incite reaction. This is beneath us.”
This is homophobic. It is implying that being gay is an insult for both of these men. It implies that being gay would emasculate them. It implies that calling them gay together would anger them and incite reaction. This is beneath us. https://t.co/Zk95DgQOpN
— Phillip Picardi (@pfpicardi) July 16, 2018
Another angry user simply wrote, “There is an entire universe of things to make fun of Trump for and instead you chose to make fun of homosexuality. Great. Delete this”
There is an entire universe of things to make fun of Trump for and instead you chose to make fun homosexuality. Great.
— Edgar Allan Tho (@GoatMeansTester) July 16, 2018
In an opinion piece for Out, Zachary Zane criticised the piece for its blatant use of homophobia and misogyny. He wrote: “If it sounds like I’m being dramatic or grossly overstating my claim, we have to remember that earlier this year, men were shot for holding hands in public with each other while vacationing in Mexico. Over a year later, the Chechnyan purge of gay and bisexual men is still going strong. And it’s legal to discriminate against gay people for buying a goddamn wedding cake.”
Other media outlets such as Vox pointed out that the cartoon did not share any actual news and was rather based on Trump’s commentary regarding Putin.
This isn’t the first time the relationship between Trump and Putin has been called gay. Democrats in office have tweeted about the relationship before and similar columns have been published discussing their “love story”.
Ah, young love. https://t.co/Gh8LjJNagf
— John Dingell (@JohnDingell) July 7, 2017
Murals have been made of the two men kissing. Last year, comedian Stephen Colbert made a homophobic comment in an attempt at mocking the president during a monologue. He said, “The only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s cock holster.”
While the comments may seem harmless, they are actually homophobic because they use LGBT+ themes to insult and ridicule the subject.
Others argue that the video was using the men’s own bigotry and hatred against them in an attempt at being especially offensive.
“Bigotry is never supposed to be okay, not even to counter bigotry,” said German Lopez in a Vox article. “Would it be okay to make racist comments in response to racist beliefs? Or sexist comments in response to sexist beliefs?”.
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