Let me start this post with a confession. Until recently, I had no idea who Lil Nas X is or why I should care about his “Satan Shoes“. But then my husband and I saw a brief news segment about a lawsuit about copyright infringement. Then the subject came up in a conversation with some of our listeners. And then I watched Lil Nas’s video — Montero (Call Me By Your Name). All I can say is Hell Yes, Lil Nas X!
The “Satanic Panic”
A beautiful, imaginative, and allegorical music video released to the world the other day promoting Lil Nas X’s song (named and linked above) became an instant hit. The music video includes depictions of Eden, Greece, and Hell. Lil Nas X is seduced by a tempter, judged by others, and poles dances to hell where he gives Satan a lap dance breaks his neck and dons his horns.
And this set off an intense wave of criticism in the tradition of the Satanic Panic of my younger years. Politicians, commentators, and Christians freaked out right on cue. However, the difference between what Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and Slayer experienced back in the day and Lil Nas X now is the immediacy of reaction via social media.
There are the usual claims of the “decline of the country”, “moral danger to children,” and “we must fight for their (kids) eternal souls” being hurled at the artist on social media. But let’s be clear. The critics are not upset about the stylistic “satanic images.” That is the excuse being given.
Rather, it is the underlying message that points out the continued message of “Gay people go to hell” that is really at issue. Because Lil Nas X is gay and it’s something he (and so many others) has heard throughout his life growing up in Christianity. Montero is his tongue-in-cheek musical response as an adult who has a platform to use it. To me, his video says “I’m Gay. Get over it.”
Queer and Trans Folks/Kids Targets For Hate
As Pagans, Witches, Satanists, et al., I believe we must be clear about our support of the LGBTQ community. After all, we intersect (or we should). We too remain on the fringe in spite of our growth in recent decades. And according to the Church, we’re all sliding down that pole to hell together, as the woman fired from Panera Bread can attest to hearing as well.
If this music video, created and performed by a gay artist, can encourage a young person to say “I do not care what you think, I’ll embrace who I am” then I support it. If it gives LGBTQ individuals the courage to say “Yep. And I’m going there with bells on” to fire-n-brimstone preaching, then more power to Lil Nas X.
Because I am a Bi-sexual Pagan Witch and mother to Queer and Trans adults. And I know that people (especially teens and young adults who are trying to sort out their sexuality and gender identity) need to know they are not alone.
I love every single moment of Montero because it shows the talent of an artist using creative, provocative imagery to depict taking charge of one’s life, overcoming hurtful messages heard about Lil Nas X’s sexual orientation throughout his life that forced him to hide for many years. Well, that time is clearly over.
It is a time-honored tradition to push the envelope in the music and entertainment industries. Lil Nas X is being a pioneer for other queer artists to push back against the conservative overculture that would silence them. The Montero video has a powerful message to anyone willing to see and hear it.
So quit clutching your pearls, people.
Satan Shoes: The Legal Kerfuffle
According to a CBS News article, “The sneakers will launch as a limited edition collection of 666 pairs. According to MSCHF, each shoe continues about 2 fluid ounces of red ink and “one drop” of human blood in the sole. The blood came from the MSCHF team.”
According to articles, Nike is suing Lil Nas X for trademark infringement. Apparently, the shoe used for the promotion was not an official collaboration, they do not support the shoe, and take exception to its trademark being used. Calls by conservative groups to “Boycott Nike” are already causing confusion for consumers and harming the company as is being claimed as part of the damages being listed in the suit.
Nike wants all the shoes destroyed. The shoes, priced at $1018, also include a Bible verse, Luke 10:18 (another thing which has sparked ire among the Christians I’m sure), and sold out immediately. And all of this happened over the weekend since the video released! It could be that the video and shoes happen to coincide with the beginning of Holy Week (you know –Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter). That was quite a statement, Lil Nas.
Who can say how the whole “satan shoes” thing will play out. Not checking on all the legal issues when creating them was most likely not the cost-effective move. Nike may succeed in getting them all destroyed. Which is too bad. I’d kinda like a pair. But the video is here to stay and that is a good thing.