Have you ever found yourself eating a Ritz cracker and thought, what would take this salty snack to the next level? Some Duke’s mayo! And then you lathered that creamy Dukes all over the buttery surface? That’s how Johnny Van Zant’s new song “Sweet Florida,” the official campaign anthem of Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, tastes in my mouth: like slimy lactose and salt.
Former Lynyrd Skynyrd member Van Zant and his brother Donnie released their separatist anthem Friday in support of DeSantis, and against my better judgment, I listened to all four minutes and 13 stomach-churning, butt-clenching seconds of it. I don’t know what’s worse: the racist and bigoted malarky in each line, or the fact that they managed to stretch the word “what” out so long until it sounds like “white.” Maybe in the Red States, this is what they call a “bop,” but after listening to the lyrics I want to upchuck the saltines this song forced down my throat.
“The press don’t like him,” the lyrics go. “He stands up for what he believes / So don’t come down here and try to change things / We’re doing all right in the Sunshine State / Stay out of our business and leave our Gov alone.”
Van Zant was apparently quite proud of this musical abomination. “We recorded it on an iPhone and sent it to the Governor,” he said. “We’ve never done that before. When you’re a writer you always want to present something really, really good. We took a chance!”
DeSantis was thrilled, of course, and called the tune “catchy.” Now Floridians will be forced to listen to it every time he makes a campaign stop.
The song is basically a four-minute temper tantrum in response to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill backlash. As it turns out, people do want to be able to say the word “gay” and love who we love and also teach children about LGBTQ+ lived experiences, because there are many millions of people who identify as such trying to live in this country, including Florida.
Here’s a funny lyric in there: “Fighting for the right to keep our state free.” Free from what exactly, Vanzy? Gay people? Black people? At this point, you might as well just say the quiet part out loud. It’s always ironic when the state preaches freedom, but thinks that freedom should only be extended to certain groups of people—you know, white, straight, cis-gendered Americans.
I get it: DeSantis needs some political help. Even Disney chided him for being anti-gay, and that’s gotta hurt in Florida. But to promote this godawful tune as the “song of the summer” is downright humiliating for him.
While this unhinged man is campaigning and slapping his knee to the off-key melodies of a partial Lynyrd Skynyrd, us queer Black folks will be singing the words of Queen Bey: “Middle fingers up, put them hands high / Wave it in his face, tell him, boy, bye.”