The White House issued a statement Monday condemning a graphic parody video showing President Donald Trump shooting members of the media, Democrats, and activist groups, which played at the American Priority Conference over the weekend as part of a “art installation” by professional meme-maker, Carpe Donktum.
The video, which has been on YouTube for sixteen months without much notice, attracted the attention of the New York Times, which posted a blockbuster breaking news report on the film Sunday night. Members of the media were quick to condemn the video, suggesting that it was an open call for violence against journalists and activists, and accusing the White House of promoting and encouraging violence.
The Trump Administration was quick to issue a statement on the video, noting that the president has not seen it but strongly condemns the use of violence, according to the Associated Press.
“The White House says President Donald Trump has yet to watch a graphically violent parody video that depicts a likeness of him shooting and stabbing opponents and members of the news media, but based on what he’s heard, he ‘strongly condemns’ it,” the AP reported.
The video is actually a scene cut from the film, “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” and originally depicted the main character, a secret agent played by Colin Firth, engaging in a frenzied shootout inside a church whose congregation has been driven mad by a chemical released into the air (the work of an elite environmentalist super-villain).
Carpe Donktum simply superimposed Trump’s face on top of Firth’s, and the logos of media outlets like CNN and Vox (and activist groups like Black Lives Matter) over the faces of Firth’s fictional victims and re-labled the church the “Church of Fake News.”
The video doesn’t seem particularly well thought-out (Firth’s character is shot in the head at point blank range at the end of the scene), or constructed, and appears meant to “troll” the same news organizations the fictional President Trump takes aim at in the clip.
Outlets like CNN were quick to release statements condemning the video and demanding an apology from Trump.
“Sadly, this is not the first time that supporters of the President have promoted violence against the media in a video they apparently find entertaining — but it is by far and away the worst. The images depicted are vile and horrific,” CNN said in a statement released late Sunday. “The President and his family, the White House, and the Trump campaign need to denounce it immediately in the strongest possible terms. Anything less equates to a tacit endorsement of violence and should not be tolerated by anyone.”
AMP Fest organizers also condemned the video, noting that it’s showing was an “unauthorized” “meme exhibit” and that viewings took place in a “side room.”
“Content was submitted by third parties and was not associated with or endorsed by the conference in any official capacity,” event organizer Alex Phillips said, according to CNN. “American Priority rejects all political violence and aims to promote a healthy dialogue about the preservation of free speech. This matter is under review.”
The Trump campaign issued a confused statement back to CNN, noting that they had nothing to do with the video or its presentation but denounced the depiction of violence, regardless.
One reporter for Reason Magazine inadvertently revealed that room on Twitter while reporting from the conference. The room was empty.
There’s a big empty room here with TVs and projectors playing videos by that “carpe donktum” guy pic.twitter.com/O87stQDfrc
— CJ Ciaramella (@cjciaramella) October 11, 2019
Although demands to condemn the video lest it encourage violence against the media spread like wildfire across Twitter and Facebook, it appears the film clip has been up on YouTube since July of 2018 and, until Monday, had less than 100,000 views — a rather paltry total for a typical Trump parody piece. Once the New York Times called attention to the video, it, too, quickly went viral, in an odd example of the “Streisand Effect.”