As Republicans in Florida, Tennessee, and beyond continue to push harmful rhetoric and legislation that oppresses and targets drag queens and performances, one Instagram account is striking back in true queen fashion: with high style and satire. Launched one week ago, @RuPublicans uses the AI image generation tool Midjourney to generate imaginary portraits of GOP higher-ups in high drag. Leave it to drag to make Republicans less of a drag!
“We’re huge fans of drag,” RuPublicans co-creators Craig and Stephen (who preferred to use their first names only) told Hyperallergic. “It has brought so much joy to our lives. Bearing witness to the GOPs anti-drag rhetoric and actions made us want to do something. So for the last 2 weeks, we’ve been creating AI-generated images just as over the top and ridiculous as the false narratives around drag.”
The results are fabulous. Who needs Ted Cruz when we can have Cruzella Deville, a fur-draped queen whose fashion sense is as murderous as her politics? Steve Bannon is famously disheveled, but Bombshell Bannon serves a double helping of lewk along with a steady stream of misinformation. And we can all agree pink is Mike Pence’s color. The portraits are accompanied by delightful descriptions. “Say hello to the GOP’s downfall darling, Rudy Garland, serving cuckoo couture,” reads the caption for an image of Rudy Giuliani in a cheetah-print coat. “She used to run the Big Apple, but now she’s the juiciest peach on the streets, wandering the Upper East Side looking for her next gig (NOT the Four Seasons, honey). You thought the only thing she could leak was hair dye? Girl, watch her spill the tea!”
The comments on the posts are equally hilarious. One AI portrait of Ron DeSantis — “Rhonda Shanty” — sitting in a bookstore wearing a puffy-sleeved gown brought hundreds of comments. “Pictured with the only books left in Florida,” said one user, referencing the Republican governor’s crackdown on critical race theory and learning in general.
Though the account’s co-creators are not themselves drag performers, they describe themselves as “two queens (husbands) who appreciate the art and what it has done for so many.”
They also highlight the ways in which the speculative power of artificial intelligence — whose potential for harm has been the subject of headlines lately — can be harnessed for activism, and humor.
“The world doesn’t need more hate these days,” the pair said. “It needs more beauty and laughter. If it takes AI generated wigs and glitter to elevate awareness of this important issue, we’re here to do it.”