With the controversial music video of Lil Nas X’s new song “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” politicians and preachers alike have had a lot to say about the biblical imagery represented in the music video.
Lil Nas is built for this criticism; he is almost better at trolling people on the internet than being a musician. The video was intended to cause controversy and it accomplished just that, landing him at 64 million views. In the video, LIl Nas finds himself in the Garden of Eden kissing a serpent. He later pole-dances to hell and when he arrives, he gives Satan a lap dance. A Fox News commentator referred to the video as “desperate and pathetic.”
Did I love the “Montero” video? No. Do I have to watch it? Also no.
Right-wing conservative politicians, however, do not understand that you don’t have to consume art that you do not like or disagree with. In fact, they have been talking about this video rather than dealing with real issues that plague our country. Governor Krisit Noem tweeted on the matter, “We are in a fight for the soul of our nation. We need to fight hard. And we need to fight smart. We have to win.” Lil Nas pole-dancing to hell is the least of our worries in this nation; we have bigger fish to fry, such as a pandemic and the return of mass shootings weekly.
Additionally, they are acting like this is the first time an artist has put out something like this. Lady Gaga put out the music video for “Judas” on Easter weekend in 2011, which is a song about falling in love with the man who betrayed Jesus. These artists do these things to stun people and promote their music, and it’s working! The more it is talked about, the more streams and views they get. The politicians are literally contributing to the popularity of music that they strongly disagree with.
The reaction to “Montero” is similar to when Cardi B and Meg Thee Stallion’s “WAP” released. Conservative politician James Bradley said their video is a reflection of “what happens when children are raised without God and without a strong father figure,” and another said the song “set the entire female gender back by 100 years.”
My issue with this is that male rappers have been releasing vulgar, sexual music for as long as I can remember and there has never been a controversy around it because it has become normalized for men to speak like that. But, when women decide to do what men have done, it is the end of the world and a “stain on culture,” according to Candace Owens.
The problem is that politicians expect a lot more out of these artists than their job description entails. They aren’t required to be role models for children and they are definitely not required to make art that people agree with. Artists deserve artistic license.
Lil Nas shamelessly took ownership of his artistic license in “Montero.” He explained that the video is an act of defiance of what he had heard and the shame he felt about his sexuality growing up. He tweeted, “I spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of the s*** y’all preached would happen to me because I was gay. so I hope u are mad, stay mad, feel the same anger you teach us to have towards ourselves.”