July 17, 2018 at 1:51 pm EST | by Mariah Cooper
New York Times’ Trump-Putin cartoon criticized as ‘homophobic’

New York Times animation (Screenshot via Twitter)

The New York Times has come under fire for its cartoon depicting Donald Trump fantasizing about having a love affair with Vladimir Putin which some felt was a homophobic dig.

The Times re-posted its animation, “Trump and Putin: A Love Story,” which was originally released last month, in the wake of Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki. The video, animated by Bill Plympton, uses real audio of Trump discussing Putin overlapped with a cartoon of Trump fantasizing about Putin. Trump is shown getting ready for a date with Putin who picks him up in his car. Trump places his hand on top of Putin’s and the car transforms into a unicorn. The pair fly through the sky surrounded by rainbows, flowers and butterflies. Then they kiss while Trump pinches Putin’s nipples. There’s a close-up shot of their tongues intertwined in a kiss inside their mouths. The cartoon ends to show Trump has been imagining the moment while watching TV at home with a framed portrait of a shirtless Putin on horseback hanging on the wall.

The video’s punch line seems to be that Trump and Putin having a romantic relationship would be funny. A spokesperson for the New York Times released a statement to NBC News insisting that wasn’t the case.

“The video is not meant to be homophobic,” the spokesperson says. “The filmmaker’s vision was one of teenage infatuation portrayed through a dream-like fantasy sequence. He would have used the same format to satirize Trump’s infatuation with another politician, regardless of sexuality or gender. Exaggerated kissing is a signature feature of his animated shorts, including ‘How to Kiss.'”

Regardless, some people found the joke to be distasteful and sounded off on social media.

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