April 19, 2022 | Newsweek

Trumpists coming together behind ‘Dark MAGA’ in preparation for 2024

Tim Squirrell, ISD’s Head of Communications & Editorial, spoke to Newsweek about Dark MAGA, a new aesthetic being promoted by both Trump supporters and more extreme political groups.

Newsweek describe Dark MAGA as the following: “More of a meme than a political slogan, Dark MAGA is a post-alt-right aesthetic that promotes an authoritarian version of Trump in dystopian, Terminator-like images. In some, the Trump Tower is painted entirely in black and the former president is seen piercing through the screen with blue laser eyes.”

Tim highlighted that this is the latest attempt of the ‘alt-right’, in disarray since the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally that ended in the murder of counter-protestor Heather Heyer in 2017, to rebrand itself and reunify its various factions. Rather than being a new movement, Dark MAGA is broadly the same set of people engaging in the same kinds of activities, with the aim of grabbing attention.

The secondary aim of Dark MAGA that Tim also spoke about is to launder more extreme narratives and aesthetics into the mainstream Trumpist movement. Dark MAGA draws heavily from the vaporwave aesthetic, a nostalgic movement itself appropriated by ‘fashwave’, an 80s-themed neon-coloured movement popular with white nationalists and white supremacists. Dark MAGA is also influenced by the ‘skull mask’ movement, as discussed by Hampton Stall and Daniel Grober in their article for GNET, and attempts to introduce mainstream conservatives to more extreme parts of the right through melding Trump memes with these different aesthetics.

Graphic of Donald Trump with Q speech bubble

 September 23, 2022 | Washington Post

Stock music song twice appropriated by QAnon and Trump

ISD’s Jared Holt spoke to the Washington Post about the latest Donald Trump and QAnon crossover: an innocuous stock music song that's become a common theme for QAnon and the Trump campaign.