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Lil Nas X’s ‘MONTERO (Call Me by Your Name)’ Sparks a Hell of a Controversy

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Famous for his break-out hit “Old Town Road” in 2019, Lil Nas X has once again seized the public’s attention. The 21-year-old artist released a music video for his song “MONTERO (Call Me by Your Name)” on March 26 which quickly spread to people’s timelines, feeds and For-You-pages due to a large amount of controversy regarding the music video’s content and promotion.

Directed by Tanu Muino and Lil Nas X himself, the three-minute music video depicts the singer being seduced in the Garden of Eden and cast down into Hell. The controversy comes from the main character in the music video, portrayed by the rapper, provocatively making his way to Hell via a stripper pole and later giving a lap dance to Satan, killing him and then taking his horns. 

Photo provided by Lil Nas X @LilNasX/Twitter

The video has received most of its backlash from religious communities and parents, with many of them believing that releasing the content in the music video was irresponsible due to “Old Town Road” being popular among children. 

Since its release, the video has garnered over 82 million views and 3.3 million likes on Youtube. The title is a reference to the singer’s real name, Montero, and the book and film franchise, “Call Me by Your Name.” 

Lil Nas X has openly stated that the video is both an embracing of his sexuality as well as a call out of the overly oppressive culture towards the LGBTQ+ community, especially in Christian spaces. The singer has been active on Twitter, responding to the controversy and sharing his thoughts on all the attention on the song.

“[I] spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of the shit 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,” the Georgian rapper tweeted

On March 25, the day before the video was released, Lil Nas X shared a note on his Twitter written to his younger, 14-year-old self. The note is a short but impactful message explaining his decision to come out publicly and how he feels it could help the queer community. 

Following the release of the video, the songwriter collaborated with art collective MSCHF to create a pair of sneakers called“Satan Shoes,” which are modified Nike Air Max 97s that feature a pentagram on the shoe, the verse “Luke 10:18” on the side, and allegedly one drop of human blood in each pair. Priced at $1,018 with only 666 pairs created, the shoes immediately caught the attention of the public and corporate alike.  According to CBS News, “Nike filed a trademark infringement and dilution complaint against MSCHF … related to the Satan Shoes.” The company’s representative stated that Nike has no affiliation with either Lil Nas X or MSCHF and that “Nike is in no way connected with this project.”

Photo provided by Lil Nas X @LilNasX/Twitter

On March 31, Nike’s request for a temporary restraining order against the art collective MSCHF was approved. Although 665 pairs of the shoes sold out within the first minute online, the last pair of shoes, which were part of a giveaway on the artist’s Twitter, has been temporarily put on hold. 

Lil Nas X responded to this decision on Twitter saying, “i haven’t been upset until today, i feel like it’s fucked up they have so much power they can get shoes cancelled. freedom of expression gone out the window. but that’s gonna change soon.”

On a lighter note and keeping in line with his joking presence, the rapper also released a video titled “Lil Nas Apologizes for Satan Shoes,” in which he appears to be apologizing for about five seconds before playing a clip from his music video.

Aside from debate, the video has also received a large amount of praise and adoration from others online, especially within the LGBTQ+ community. Many on Twitter have praised the singer for embracing his queerness and citing him as an example of representation for younger queer people. Memes and TikToks using images and audio from the video can be found all over social media, even after over a week after its release. 

In an interview with TIME, Lil Nas X stated that “[He wants] kids to know that they don’t have to harm themselves — and that they’re capable and worthy,” referring to the young queer community that makes up a large portion of his fanbase. 

The singer has also announced the release of an album, titled “MONTERO,” for this upcoming summer. 

Hilary Gil is an Entertainment Staff Writer. She can be reached at hsgil@uci.edu.