With all the talk and memes about Lil Nas X, I thought I’d look up the video to see for myself. Until this blew up, I hadn’t heard of him because I’m stuck in my little musical bubble of 1980’s Synthpop and Electro Swing and I don’t tend to listen to commercial radio these days.
I had heard that the video for the song involved the Garden of Eden and the talking snake and Lil Nas X being stoned to death and then pole dancing his way to Hell where he gives Satan a lap dance before snapping his neck and taking his place on the throne. And, yeah, that’s pretty much what happens.
As for the song itself, I won’t claim to understand the meaning or intent behind it after just a couple of listens, but I liked it. Which is saying a lot considering it’s way out of my usual musical choices.
A lot of Conservative Christians are, of course, outraged. Not only by this video, but by his stunt of selling ‘Satan Shoes’ that he collaborated on with street wear company MSCHF. With only 666 pairs being made, the Nike Air Max 97s had all the usual Satanic iconography you would expect including a pentagram pendant, Luke 10:18, and a bubble in the heel that supposedly contained a drop of real human blood.
Nike was none too pleased about it themselves. They released a statement saying they had nothing to do with the production of these shoes and then hitting MSCHF with a cease-and-desist order almost immediately, but not fast enough to stop the $1,018 shoes from selling out. The video was actually released after the shoes and did nothing to sooth the furrowed brows of America’s righteous Christians.
Lil Nas X who is, if you couldn’t tell from the video, openly gay is unapologetic:
I’m not his target audience, but I can appreciate both this song and his trolling of Conservative Christians. I can especially appreciate the open letter to his younger self he published to Twitter after this all blew up.
As for the video itself, I found this opinion piece by Heather White, author of Reforming Sodom: Protestants and the Rise of Gay Rights, helpful in understanding it.
But this about a lot more then gleeful provocation. Lil Nas X’s comments about his use of Christian imagery shows that his core aim is not to offend. His latest art is in fact deeply personal, depicting his own struggle with self-acceptance amid a claustrophobic and shaming religious culture. A gay son of the Black church, the real devil on Lil Nas X’s back is one familiar to many LGBTQ folks reared in conservative Christianity: being told that who you are is a sin.Lil Nas X’s ‘Satan Shoes’ trolled some Christians. But ‘Montero’ is about more than that. – NBCNews.com
I’m white, straight, and male which puts me in the most privileged of positions in American society. The only the way I could be more privileged is if I were rich. I cannot begin to imagine the daily stress black Americans deal with just trying to get by and to add being gay on top of that can only make things so much worse. As an atheist, I am tickled by the trolling of Conservative Christians, but I also understand that this is about more than just pissing off the overly religious. I hope this goes a long way to not only helping Lil Nas X be more comfortable with who he is, but also inspires others who are experiencing the same forms of self-loathing to come to accept who they are as well. Bravo sir, well done indeed!