'Not in my name!': Peaky Blinders star and creator attack Ron DeSantis over campaign ad

Cillian Murphy participates in the BUILD Speaker Series to discuss the televison show "Peaky Blinders" at BUILD Studio, Oct. 2, 2019, in New York.
Cillian Murphy participates in the BUILD Speaker Series to discuss the televison show "Peaky Blinders" at BUILD Studio, Oct. 2, 2019, in New York. Copyright Charles Sykes/2019 Invision
By Savin Mattozzi with AP
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Ron DeSantis, the Republican Governor for Florida, has been attacked for using the fictional character from the hit TV series in an anti-LGBTQ advert for his US presidential campaign without asking for permission.

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The Republican Governor from the US state of Florida, Ron DeSantis, has yet again come under fire for his campaign’s use of videos promoting his anti-LGBTQ policies. 

This latest criticism came from the popular BBC drama ‘Peaky Blinders’ whose characters appear in the video released by DeSantis’ presidential campaign twitter account.

The first half of the video uses short clips of former US president Donald Trump where he claims to endorse the LGBTQ community with happy pop music playing in the background and passing clips of the rainbow flag. 

The second half of the video changes to a more serious tone with clips of Twitter excerpts and news clippings of the various laws DeSantis has passed against the LGBTQ community while he smiles in the background. 

Two very brief clips include the image of Peaky Blinders’ character Tommy Shelby, played by Irish actor Cillian Murphy, in a montage full of clips of gladiators and military propaganda.

Charles Sykes/2019 Invision
Steven Knight participates in the BUILD Speaker Series to discuss the television show "Peaky Blinders" at BUILD Studio, Oct. 2, 2019, in New York.Charles Sykes/2019 Invision
The Peaky Blinders creators and star made clear their disapproval of Ron DeSantis's campaign ad

The Peaky Blinders’ team was swift with their response tweeting: “On behalf of the partners of Peaky Blinders - Steven Knight, Cillian Murphy, Caryn Mandabach Productions, Tiger Aspect Productions and Banijay Rights – we confirm the footage of Tommy Shelby’s character used within the video posted by Ron DeSantis’ campaign was obtained without permission or official licence. We do not support nor endorse the video’s narrative and strongly disapprove of the use of the content in this manner.”

DeSantis defence

The video was posted amid a growing US conservative campaign against LGBTQ rights and celebrations. It highlighted some of Trump's past statements supporting LGBTQ people, including saying he'd be OK with transgender women competing one day in the Miss Universe pageant, which Trump owned at the time of those remarks.

Reba Saldanha/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Republican Governor Ron DeSantis at a presidential campaign rally in Merrimack on July 4, 2023Reba Saldanha/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.

DeSantis, in an interview Wednesday on the podcast of conservative commentator Tomi Lahren, did not address accusations that the video was homophobic but said the intent was “identifying Donald Trump as really being a pioneer in injecting gender ideology into the mainstream where he was having men compete against women in his beauty pageants.”

Repeat offenders

This is not the first time that artists and musicians have criticised Republican politicians for using their content.

Donald Trump has racked up a list of more than 21 musicians who have either asked him to not use their music or have distanced themselves from him.

From R.E.M. to Adele and Rihanna, some of the most famous entertainers of our time have issued formal letters of complaint and even several cease-and-desist letters.

Phil Collins, John Fogerty and Eddy Grant, among others, have all threatened legal action against the former US president after he played their music at campaign rallies and other public venues.

Eddy Grant filed a $300,000 copyright lawsuit in 2020 against Trump in his unauthorised use of Grant’s song Electric Avenue. In December 2022, the former US president was made to testify in court signalling the most successful lawsuit against Trump in terms of his misuse of artists' music.

Complaints against politicians who use the music of artists goes back decades before the advent of social media campaigns.

One of the first, if not the first clash of its kind happened in 1984 between Ronald Reagan and renowned singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen. 

Ronald Reagan, who was running for re-election at the time, used Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” Springsteen later said that although it’s good for people to feel good about the country they come from, he believed that his music was being manipulated and exploited by politicians.

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