The outrage over “WAP” has barely died down, but conservatives are once again up in arms over a music video. This time, the target of their ire is Lil Nas X’s new video for “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” in which the “Old Town Road” singer explores the complicated intersection between religion and sexuality by riding a stripper pole down to hell, then giving Satan a lap dance. See for yourself:
Artists have been imagining trips to hell for hundreds of years without anyone raising too much fuss, but then Dante wasn’t a gay black pop star. Also, as far as anyone knows, Dante didn’t promote the Divine Comedy by selling a limited-edition sneaker made with human blood, which is the approach Lil Nas X has been taking with “Montero.” On Friday, news broke that Lil Nas X and MSCHF had collaborated on “Satan Shoes,” a limited release of modified Nike Air Maxes decorated with pentagrams and a reference to Luke 10:18 (“And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.”) They’re only making 666 individually numbered pairs of shoes, and each one is made with a drop of real human blood. Not surprisingly, Nike wants everyone to know they had nothing to do with any of this.
The box the sneakers come in appears to be decorated with a detail from Jan van Eyck’s Last Judgment, yet another example of an artist’s vision of hell that didn’t provoke outraged tweets from conservatives. (To be fair, Twitter wouldn’t be invented for another 575 years or so.) In any event, it would be difficult to create a more perfect bait for right-wing anger than the combination of Lil Nas X’s new video and his “Satan Shoes,” and the response has been exactly what one would expect. Here’s pastor Greg Locke railing against Lil Nas X at auctioneer speed on Sunday:
South Dakota governor Kristi Noem, fresh off her catastrophic mishandling of her state’s COVID-19 response, also found time to weigh in:
As for Lil Nas X, he initially seemed delighted that he’d successfully trolled right wing Christians, vowing to sample Locke’s sermon and gleefully dunking on Noem:
On a more serious note, Lil Nas X explained that he didn’t care if his critics were mad, because their belief that homosexuality was immoral had made his teenage years miserable:
By Sunday, however, Lil Nas X seemed to have reconsidered his position and posted a thoughtful apology to the people he’d upset with his shoes:
With any luck, that will put an end to this controversy!