On Tuesday, April 11, Florida State Representative Webster Barnaby was discussing the state's most recent pending bathroom bill aimed at oppressing trans people for absolutely no reason with any basic grounding in reality. To explain his support for the bill, he cited … the X-Men. You know, that popular comic book franchise about a group of people who are demonized by society for being different, but still insist on using the things that make them different to help the people who fear and hate them.
To be clear, Rep. Barnaby intended this comparison as a pejorative.
I'm looking at society today, and it's like I'm watching an X-Men movie. It's like we have mutants living among us on planet Earth.
Not to put too fine a point on it, Rep. Barnaby did then clarify that the mutant-like trans community are also "demons and imps who come and parade before us and pretend that you are part of this world." For it's worth, he almost immediately apologized for the demon part — though the X-Men comparison remained curiously on the record, with Baranaby seeming completely unaware of how he pretty much just quoted the villains from the one of the most famous X-Men stories of all time.
Of course, as Jake Kleinman at Inverse noted back in 2020, the hate-mongering anti-mutant politician Senator Kelly as he appeared in the X-Men movies has long been viewed as a hero by some real-life politicians — to the point that the actor who portrayed the character was often sent to schmooze with those politicians on behalf of Hollywood lobbyists.
even in the early 2000s, this fictional conservative legislator from the Marvel universe had his fans in Congress. And Bruce Davison, who played Kelly in X-Men, tells Inverse that after the film came out, he was often sent to lobby Republican politicians on behalf of the entertainment industry for that exact reason.
"I was spending a lot of time in Washington with the Creative Coalition campaigning for the arts, and they would only send me into the Republican offices because the Republicans would all go nuts over Senator Kelly," Davison says. "It was great, talking to Brownback and his people about, 'Oh, yeah, Senator Kelly. I can identify with this guy.'"
Davison adds that, like more conservatives, Brownback was "a brick wall when it came to funding the arts," but that the senator's aides "loved Senator Kelly." In general, his role as the genocidal X-Men villain was "a useful door opener in those Bush years."