Lil Nas X has rattled pearl-clutchers everywhere with his music video for his latest hit, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).”
In this video, Lil Nas X makes a huge statement about his sexuality, embracing his identity as a gay man in a very tongue-in-cheek way by literally giving the devil a lap dance and calling out the idea that gay men and all queer people go to hell.
The video was made in part as a response to people telling him to go to hell after he came out as gay. In response to the backlash, he tweeted “Y’all love saying we going to hell but get upset when I actually go there lmao.”
In addition, he tweeted about how he’s spent too long hating himself and his sexuality because of the consequences people fed him that would happen solely because he’s gay.
“So I hope you are mad, stay mad, feel the same anger you teach us to have towards ourselves,” Lil Nas X continued in his post. “Y’all saying a gay n---a twerking on a CGI Satan is the end of times like slavery and the Holocaust didn’t happen. There is a mass shooting every week that our government does nothing to stop. Me sliding down a CGI pole isn’t what’s destroying society.”
Students who are fans of Lil Nas X believe all of the backlash from the video is because he’s gay, rather than the Satanic elements.
“He’s publicly gay now, and society can’t seem to cope with that,” Kaleb Gongwer, an Ohio University junior studying communications studies, said. “It’s a pattern we see in media: if it’s not straight and white and predominantly male, then there will usually be an issue with it, according to our country.”
Other students also feel it has everything to do with his sexuality.
“I don’t think he deserves the backlash he’s getting at all,” Katie Wilson, an OU freshman studying psychology, said in a message. “You can tell that he put a lot of time and thought into the video and it was his artistic vision. Art is so subjective and not for everyone and I feel like people understand that more with art forms like dance or sculptures but music and visual media is the same way. Of course people can have their opinions on it but I think it’s also important to be respectful of someone’s vision.”
With the music video and single came the idea of the infamous blood shoes. Lil Nas X partnered with MSCHF to create Satan Shoes, which were unauthorized and falsely associated with Nike, causing Nike to file a lawsuit. The shoes, with the promise that each had a drop of blood, sold to 666 people for $1,018 each.
Some students believe the shoes are why Lil Nas X is receiving the most backlash.
“I think he’s receiving backlash more over the shoes he created than the video (itself),” Wilson said in a message. “While people were upset about the representation of (Satan), (I’ve) seen a lot more uproar about him ‘selling (Satan) shoes.’”
That brings up the question: is it just the religious connotation that’s causing such uproar?
“I think he’s receiving so much backlash because Christian people probably feel he is mocking their religion or disrespecting it,” Tara Theaker, an OU freshman studying psychology, said in a message. “Also, I think the older generations don’t tend to look into the artistic side of videos and so they look at this video and see a man dancing on the devil and immediately classify him as a Satan worshipper or something like that.”
Theaker also noticed that most of the backlash she has seen is coming from older generations rather than younger ones.
“I also think my current generation is more accepting of the LGBTQ community and so we find a video like this somewhat normal whereas older generations get offended or think it’s something harmful,” Theaker said in a message.
As if the critical comments and shoe lawsuit weren’t enough, FKA Twigs and her “Cellophane” music video were brought into the mix.
Andrew Thomas Huang, director of the “Cellophane” music video, shared a side-by-side comparison of the two videos, where he highlighted the resemblance between both videos’ pole dancing choreography. He clarified that the video was not shade, and that though he is a fan of Lil Nas X, the artist should’ve shed light on the fact that the choreographer was the same for both videos and that he should’ve given credit to FKA Twigs and the “Cellophane” video creators.
Lil Nas X ended up having several conversations with FKA Twigs to rectify the situation, and then posted on his Instagram spreading awareness of FKA Twigs and her team’s hard work. FKA Twigs responded as well, praising Lil Nas X for his maturity and for his artistry in the “Montero” video.
“I think that people say such demeaning things to gay people and when the gay people decide to act how others think they truly do, then they receive hate because it’s them actually confronting the nasty comments they have to face everyday,” Theaker said in a message.
Gongwer believes Lil Nas X knew he was going to get this backlash and was prepared for it.
“I think that anyone who is a minority or of a minority cleavage, I think that they know ahead of time a lot of times what their consequences are,” Gongwer said. “It’s just a matter of whether or not you’re willing to make the move. He was, and he did it well. It’s going to take for more and more of those opportunities to arise for it to become normalized, so someone’s gotta start somewhere.”
Gongwer, Wilson and Theaker all agree that the song is a creative way for Lil Nas X to clap back at the haters, and they hope people listen to it and understand the true meaning and joking nature of it, rather than blowing it out of proportion.
“Stream the song because I think it’s a good song and I think that what he’s doing is healthy for what our society needs,” Gongwer said.
People can listen to “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” on any music streaming service, or watch the video on YouTube.