Peaky Blinders team hit out at Ron DeSantis for using Cillian Murphy footage without approval

The public disapproval by Peaky Blinders comes as Ron DeSantis' war with "woke" Disney continues

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Republican party members and using unauthorised footage or songs as part of their campaigns; can you name a more iconic, awkward combination? But for all the times that artists such as Dr. Dre and Foo Fighters have hit out at use of their work on the Republican campaign trail, the message hasn’t seemed to have reached Ron DeSantis - until now.

DeSantis has been on the stinging end of the cast and crew of Peaky Blinders, after using footage of Thomas Shelby, played by “Oppenheimer” actor Cillian Murphy, during one of his campaign videos. DeSantis, the current Governor of Florida and a man expected to enter the Republican primary race alongside Donald Trump, has already established himself as anti-LGBTQIA+ with some of his policies and frequently hit out at what her perceived as the “cult of wokeness.”

Those tenets of his campaign, both on the road to the Republican primaries and during his time as Florida’s governor, have not sat well with the Peak Blinders team, who released a statement via. Twitter denounced the use and, at the same time, denounced DeSantis’ views.

“On behalf of the partners of Peaky Blinders - Stephen 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 of official licence. We do not support nor endorse the video's narrative and strongly disapprove of the use of the content in this manner.”

The video, created by DeSantis' campaign, juxtaposed clips from the show with statements from Donald Trump and headlines about DeSantis' policy attacks on LGBTQ rights. But DeSantis’ battle against the “woke” community hasn’t always panned out how he wanted to - look no further to his battles with Disney World Florida.

What is the feud between Ron DeSantis and Disney all about?

Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during the Moms for Liberty Joyful Warriors national summit at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown on June 30, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during the Moms for Liberty Joyful Warriors national summit at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown on June 30, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during the Moms for Liberty Joyful Warriors national summit at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown on June 30, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Where to begin regarding the box office feud between the Governor of Florida and the Happiest Place on Earth? We should go back to 2017, when Disney changed its policy to allow same-sex couples in their Fairy Tales Wedding programme, marking a shift towards inclusivity and gay rights. DeSantis took that as an opening salvo Disney fired in the ongoing “culture war” in the United States.

However, it would be COVID-19 that ramped up the animosity between the two; DeSantis took a more relaxed stance on COVID-19 restrictions, including mask mandates, while Disney World implemented its own comprehensive safety protocols, including mandatory mask-wearing and capacity restrictions. 

Those concerns from the House of Mouse were compounded by DeSantis’ executive order banning the use of vaccination passports in Florida, which raised concerns for businesses, including Disney World, that were considering implementing such measures.

But it is the constant attacks as part of DeSantis’ ideology that Florida is where “woke goes to die” that has been the real sticking point regarding the hostilities between the two. While Disney is constantly pushing for inclusivity and diversity, that runs opposite to DeSantis, who in 2021 signed a bill banning the teaching of critical race theory in Florida's public schools, which still may have implications that could affect Disney.

February 2022 saw Florida pass a law, often referred to as the "Don't Say Gay" law, which prohibited conversations about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools until third grade. In response, Disney announced that it would suspend its political donations to the state and support organisations opposing the law. DeSantis expressed anger over Disney's move, criticising "woke corporations" and vowing to hold them accountable.

As a major private employer in Florida, Disney's stance put pressure on the local government. In April 2022, the Florida government retaliated by revoking Disney's special tax status secured through the Reedy Creek Improvement District, an organisation established by Walt Disney himself. DeSantis proposed renaming the area and considered building a state prison near the Disney World complex.

However, a long-lasting development agreement, signed by a previous Disney-allied board, limited the government's control over Disney's district. This agreement, with a "royal clause" dating back to 1692, granted Disney significant autonomy in its development projects and rights. You can thank King Charles III for the use of that royal clause.

In April 2023, DeSantis passed a new bill requiring inspections of rides and monorails at Walt Disney World by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. In response, Disney filed a lawsuit against DeSantis and his oversight board, alleging the misuse of political power for retaliation.

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