This Sunglass Company Is at War With Far-Right Extremists

·3 min read
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photo Getty
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photo Getty

With an out-there look that wouldn’t look out of place in a 1980s wrestling ring, Pit Viper sunglasses have become a go-to choice for anyone looking to bring some attitude to the pregame. But Pit Viper has a problem: their reflective glasses are also a hit with far-right extremists.

On the latest episode of The Daily Beast’s Fever Dreams podcast, hosts Asawin Suebsaeng and Will Sommer discuss Pit Viper’s attempts—so far unsuccessful—to distance themselves from white nationalists.

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Pit Viper’s problems started on Jan. 6, when far-right livestreamer and Charlottesville white supremacist rally attendee Anthime Gionet, who goes by the name “Baked Alaska,” wore Pit Viper sunglasses during the U.S. Capitol riot.

Gionet’s fondness for Pit Vipers was early proof that the brand had been adopted by “groypers”—young white nationalists who named themselves after a cartoon character similar to Pepe the Frog. Gionet was later arrested for allegedly breaching the Capitol.

Pit Viper responded with a meme campaign telling extremists that “we didn’t make these for your bullshit.”

“Pit Viper got on this quick,” Sommer says of the company’s attempt to fend off the far right. “And so they put out a meme that showed people wearing Pit Vipers and said, ‘Extreme sports, not extremist losers.’”

“Did that work?” Suebsaeng asks.

“No, it did not,” Sommer says.

In response to Pit Viper’s attempts to alienate white nationalists, the host of a far-right Christian online show smashed a pair of Pit Viper sunglasses on air. Pit Viper’s image issues worsened last weekend, when “groyper” leader Nick Fuentes and several of his associates wore what appeared to be Pit Viper shades as they attempted to crash a Dallas event held by the Conservative Political Action Conference. After Fuentes was bounced, Pit Viper’s official account tweeted that he “needs to stop wearing Pit Vipers.”

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In a statement, Pit Viper said extremists wearing their sunglasses should "knock it off."

"When you’re wearing Pit Viper sunglasses, you’re part of a global community of vibrant characters, go getters, and legendary partiers," the statement reads. "You can be you, whoever you are, unless you promote things like white supremacy and racism. We are very firmly against racism, homophobia, and injustice. We will never condone wearing our gear to spread hate, so knock it off."

The Fever Dreams hosts just might get some pairs of their own.

“We’re going to reclaim Pit Viper,” Sommer says.

Elsewhere in the podcast, Salon staff writer Zach Petrizzo joins to talk about his reporting on last weekend’s Texas round of the Conservative Political Action Conference. Despite theoretically serving as one of the establishment right’s top events, the conference saw an appearance by Oath Keepers militia founder Stewart Rhodes—leader of a militia whose members have been charged for their own alleged roles in the riot. Rhodes turned sour, according to Petrizzo, after a member of Fuentes’s entourage accused Rhodes of being a federal informant.

“As we’ve seen over the past couple of years, even after Jan. 6 more so, we’ve seen CPAC shift further right,” Petrizzo said.

Also on the pod, Suebsang and Sommer discuss potential court sanctions looming in Michigan for Sidney Powell and Lin Wood, who pushed bogus voter fraud claims after the election. Following a Monday hearing, Wood broke courtroom procedure and posted video of the hearing—putting him in even more legal peril. The Fever Dreams hosts also discussed one-time Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s near-total failure to raise any money for his legal defense.

Listen, and subscribe, to Fever Dreams on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.

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