Well hello, Candace Owens.
We meet again.
If you’ve been on the interwebs as of late, I’m sure you’ve heard about Lil Nas X’s brand new music video for his new song MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name). You may have seen snippets of it on Instagram, where his stans are showering him in praise.
Or perhaps you’ve seen conservative pundits like Ms. Owens losing their minds on Twitter.
For those of you playing the long game, here’s the sitch:
Grammy-Award winning artist Montero Hill — known as Lil Nas X — dropped the lead single to his debut studio album at the end of March. The openly gay singer-songwriter has touched on his sexuality in previous material, but this was really the first song he’s put out that fully embraces his queer experience. The song lyrics itself aren’t anything too provocative.
It’s really the music video.
Utilizing the biblical story of Adam and Eve, Lil Nas X uses the story as an allegory for coming out as gay in the eyes of Conservative Christians — that is, being tempted into sin and falling from grace. At the music video’s climax, Nas literally pole dances into hell, gives Satan a lap dance, and kills him before becoming the king of hell himself.
(He also promoted this new era by partnering with prank company MSCHF to sell Nike shoes with devil imagery and — the kicker — a drop of human blood in each).
For many non-Christians like me, this is all very, very amusing. However, many of his critics are pointing out things like, “promoting devil worship,” and, “raunchy, inappropriate, hypersexual behaviors,” and the classic, “Think of the Children!!!”
Ah yes, the children.
It’s worth noting that many of these detractors are holding his young audience against him. His breakout hit, Old Town Road, is primarily popular among kids and pre-teens, and as a result, they claim these are the people mostly tuning into and watching this, “satanic, horrific new video.”
Here’s the thing, Candace.
Artists should not be forced to cater to their demographics. Like Miley Cyrus before him, Lil Nas X may have started his fame with younger fans, but that does not mean he has to make music for kids. If anything, parents care that much about what media their kids consume, they should pay more attention to it.
Artists are entitled to make art. Plain and simple.
Montero (Call Me By Your Name) is art. The use of biblical and satanic imagery to reclaim the coming out narrative and one's own queerness is brilliant. For so long, queer people like Lil Nas and I have been told that we’re going to hell because of who we love. To take that back? It’s empowering.
Nas X’s music video makes me feel seen in a visceral, all-powerful way. The way he has been handling the slander — the homophobia, the racism — from his opponents completely unbothered is the peak of what we in the business call, “taking the high road.” I love it.
And mind you, Lil Nas X would not be getting this level of scrutiny and “valid criticism” if he wasn’t gay. Sure, a straight man could do it, and they’d just get a slap on the wrist. Because he is visibly performing pride in tangent to satanic imagery, all the claws are coming out.
TL;DR, Montero’s artistic use of satanic and biblical imagery is a bold, beautiful reclamation. Rather than condemn, we should celebrate and honor (what I think is) another step forward for the representation of queerness in the world.
Long may he reign.