Mainstream media and public scolds clutch their ever-lovin' pearls over a 'Kingsman' parody video featuring Donald Trump massacring a church full of foes.
Nothing quite makes the point about “fake news” like the MSM’s recent eruption over a crudely-crafted parody video showing President Trump on a bloody rampage against various media outlets and political enemies.
Everyone from the president of the White House Correspondents Association and CNN to the Brit rag The Independent and that gaseous blowhard Meghan McCain have blasted the heretofore little-watched three-and-a-half minute clip, shown on a TV in a side room at a Trump resort in Miami during a three-day conference sponsored by the pro-Trump group, American Priority.
The video cops a scene from the 2014 spy-comedy The Kingsman , in which Colin Firth’s secret agent character massacres a church full of wacko Christians, triggered into attacking him and each other by a high-pitched signal emanating from their cell phones.
In the parody version, the house of worship becomes “The Church of Fake News,” Trump’s head replaces that of Firth, and church-goers’ noggins are switched out, either with the icons of various news organizations or with the faces of Trump’s critics, such as Bernie Sanders, Rosie O’Donnell and Hillary Clinton.
Like the violence in the original film, the parody’s mayhem is over-the-top, cartoonish. To the tune of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird,” Trump shoots Peter Fonda (who once suggested that Trump’s son Barron be locked up “in a cage with pedophiles“) in the face. POTUS then “guns down” sites like Politico, Vox and Vice News, and puts a bullet in the head of a woman with an icon for Black Lives Matter covering her face.
What little is left of Bernie’s hair, POTUS sets afire. Trump blows away Adam Schiff, pummels Maxine Waters with his fists, slams the butt of his handgun against the back of John McCain’s head, and knifes Rosie in the skull. Some, like comedian Kathy Griffin, are taken out by the other crazed parishioners. And the whole absurd battle royale ends with Trump impaling CNN on a spike.
The vid’s creator, who operates under the handle, TheGeekzTeam, reportedly posted the parody to YouTube over a year ago, where it received scant attention and likely would have lingered in obscurity had the stable geniuses over at The New York Times not decided that to elevate the video to infamy based on a tangential relationship to Trump, who has since dutifully denounced it, as has American Priority.
See, on October 13, Pulitzer Prize-winning journos Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman breathlessly reported that the send-up was shown at a conference for Trump supporters, “according to video obtained by The New York Times.”
Jeez, you’d think Schmidt and Haberman were Woodward and Bernstein circa 1973 and just scored copies of Nixon’s Watergate tapes.
The HaberSchmidt duo justified the piece, stating, “The disclosure that the video was played shows how Mr. Trump’s anti-media language has influenced his supporters and bled into their own propaganda.”
In her infinite wisdom, the Grey Lady followed up the HaberSchmidt report with a triple-bylined article in which the reader learns, toward the tail end of it, that the parody video “had fewer than 1,000 views on YouTube as of Sunday night.”
That is, before the mighty HaberSchmidt kraken roared. By “midday Monday” the video “had clocked nearly 200,000 views.”
Couple of questions come to mind. First, did it really require three journalists, with the assistance of at least one editor (and probably more), to produce the follow-up piece? Second, have these Fourth Estate knowitalls ever heard of the “Streisand effect“? Because they are the living, breathing embodiment of it.
Thanks to HaberSchmidt, et al., the story and the video went viral, and the latter has achieved a far broader audience than it was ever likely to do on its own. You can watch it on YouTube, Twitter and numerous other places online, as you can the same scene from Kingsman, which is far more gruesome than the parody.
In reality, the parody clip is no more outlandish than National Lampoon was in its day, and no more violent than old Warner Brothers cartoons featuring Bugs Bunny or Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote.
Have these Fourth Estate knowitalls ever heard of the ‘Streisand effect’? Because they are the living, breathing embodiment of it.
The Times‘ three-headed follow-up to the HaberSchmidt hustle roped in another pro-Trump meme-maker, Carpe Donktum, whose real name is Logan Cook. The self-described “Eternally Sarcastic Memesmith,” who boasts more than 187,000 followers on Twitter, is a fave of the nation’s chief executive, who has RT’d him more than once and met with the Kansas resident in the White House.
Cook has been misidentified in some reports as the creator of the Kingsman parody. Front Page Confidential contacted Cook directly via Twitter, asking if he used TheGeekzTeam as a separate persona online. He responded in the negative.
“I only release videos under my own branding,” he wrote. “I don’t have any subbrands.”
Indeed, TheGeekzTeam is an anonymous contributor to Cook’s site MemeWorld.com, although Cook’s work was part of the same meme exhibit at the conference where TheGeekzTeam’s parody video was shown.
Why then is he being linked so closely to this particular video in the press?
“I think the connection is because of a few things,” he shot back. “1. A loop of my own memes was playing simultaneously in the same room. Simple conflation. 2. Geekz is a contributor on my site, but the video was never on the site, it was already a year old. 3. Using my name adjacent to this story would be more damaging to Trump because of my recent WH visits.”
Twitter briefly suspended Cook’s Carpe Donktum account on Monday, though Twitter told The Verge that the suspension was due to a copyright holder’s claim, not because Cook was connected to the makers of the Kingsman parody.
Cook told FPC that he’d picked up about 20,000 followers to his Twitter account, but he said there may be an alternate explanation to the spike, since he’s received “countless messages from people who only learned they had unfollowed me after my suspension.”
He added, “So the boom may actually be just a more accurate count of my followers.”
In response to the claims from journalist groups and politicians that the parody video could incite real-life violence against reporters, Cook released a statement on MemeWorld ridiculing the notion, while condemning violence of any sort.
It reads, in part:
The Kingsman video is CLEARLY satirical and the violence depicted is metaphoric. No reasonable person would believe that this video was a call to action, or an endorsement of violence towards the media. The only person that could potentially be ‘incited’ by this video is Donald Trump himself, as the main character of the video is him. THERE IS NO CALL TO ACTION.
(BTW, whatever you think of Cook, his spoof of Biden’s “apology” to women for being a serial hair-sniffer — RT’d by the prez — is hilarious.)
Cook and others in the MAGA camp have countered the left’s indignation by bringing up the Times‘ defense of a production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, in which Caesar was made to resemble Donald Trump. And several pro-Tumpers have cited progressives’ defense of comedian Kathy Griffin and the photo of her holding a bloody head that looked like Trump.
Valid points. But it’s also fair to say that there were howls of outrage from the right over both that play (which some protesters interrupted) and Griffin’s stunt. New York’s Public Theater, which staged the play, lost corporate sponsors, and Griffin lost her gig as a co-host of CNN’s New Year’s program.
Would be censors of every ilk like to fall back on the timeless trick of alleging that depictions of violence and depravity lead inevitably to the same in real life.
Thing is, deranged individuals and actual would-be assassins have been inspired to action by such disparate material as Martin Scorsese’ Taxi Driver, the Bible and J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye.
In other words, suppressing supposedly deviant impulses ain’t as easy as denying folks’ need for stimuli.
The outrage over the Kingsman parody might be understandable if the Trump administration had made the video public or otherwise endorsed it, but that’s not the case here. Ironically, if not for The New York Times’ much-offended scribes, very few of us would know anything at all about this parody or its makers.