Lil Nas X, born Montero Lamar Hill, truly gave everyone something to talk about when he released a music video for his single “Montero,” in which he gave a CGI Satan a lap-dance.
On March 25, the music video for Lil Nas X’s new single “Montero” premiered on YouTube. Less than a full month after its release, the video already has over 100 million views and over 4 million likes. The video also has over 700,000 comments, most of which defend, support and praise Lil Nas X.
This music video definitely sparked controversy, but according to Vox contributor Aja Romano, Lil Nas X was not only anticipating, but fully prepared for this kind of reaction. Romano wrote, “Lil Nas X, as much a performance artist as any other Hollywood star, has made it clear that he intended for ‘Montero’ to spawn exactly this level of outrage in precisely the way that said outrage was unfolded.”
If Lil Nas X was expecting “Montero” to provoke such an outrage, then why did he go through with creating such a controversial music video? Lil Nas X answered this question in a tweet he posted shortly after the video was released.
The tweet reads, “dear 14 year old montero, i wrote a song with our name in it. it’s about a guy i met last summer. i know we promised to never come out publicly, i know we promised to never be ‘that’ type of gay person, i know we promised to die with the secret, but this will open doors for many other queer people to simply exist. you see this is very scary for me, people will be angry, they will say i’m pushing an agenda. but the truth is, i am. the agenda to make people stay the f— out of other people’s lives and stop dictating who they should be. sending you love from the future. -lnx”
Although the meaning behind “Montero” was meant to be wholesome, some fans were still shocked. Some commented that Lil Nas X took it too far and that disrespecting religion shouldn’t be okay. However, for each person that defended religion, there were another five who were ready to pounce and stand up for the artist. The tweet’s reply section turned into a bloodbath between Christians and their opponents. It seemed as though even the kindest comments received hateful responses such as, “since when does a straight white guy’s opinion matter?” or, “I’d rather go to hell for being myself than try to become something some guy from a sh— book says I should be.”
Lil Nas X took all the chaos in his comment sections as an opportunity to release a fake apology video to troll his “haters.” This video served as a modern-day “Rickroll.” It began as what appeared to be a regular apology video; however, the video quickly switches to a clip from the “Montero” music video where Lil Nas X is seen grinding on the video’s interpretation of Satan.
A video of a right-wing pastor’s commentary sparked even more controversy. This clip, which was uploaded to Twitter, shows Pastor Greg Locke pacing around a stage as he speaks negatively of Lil Nas X and his new song. In this clip he refers to what Lil Nas X is doing as demonism and wickedness; however, it was not these words that caught some people off guard, but rather the pastor’s description of Lil Nas X as a “thug.”
One tweeter said, “did this rodent just call him a lil thug? Racist piece of sh–.” Another said, “you can just call him the N word dude, we knew what you meant by ‘thug.’” There was one particularly dedicated Twitter used who said, “why was he watching the video? Just don’t watch if you don’t like it” but then proceeded to post some more responses where he called the pastor derogatory names and made fun of his appearance and voice. This caught the attention of some other commenters, who told him to take his own advice and just not watch videos that he does not like.
In another tweet, Lil Nas X wrote, “i spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of the sh– 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 toward ourselves.”
Pastor Locke’s anti-Lil Nas X “sermon” is an example of a slightly more extreme Christian response. Though it would be unfortunately easy to find more extreme examples, there were also responses that did not contain hate and anger. In a response to this aforementioned tweet, one fan by the name of Hulvey wrote, “Man I’m sorry that you felt turned away from Christians. Jesus ain’t like that. His love for you will always pursue you. What’s wild, is that He’s not looking at you in anger. He sees you with love. I don’t see you in anger. He loves you dawg.” Another commenter defended Christians, saying that the anger actually came from Satan in order to trick Lil Nas X into becoming a slave. This comment received a lot of ridicule from some but also prompted praise from one fellow Twitter user who called her brave for speaking her beliefs despite the backlash.
The lesson that was learned in this outrage is that, unfortunately, the ability to “stay in one’s own lane” is not a requirement for using the internet. A Twitter user commented, “lil nas has freedom of speech so get youre Christian sh— out of here” without even realizing how hypocritical that sounds. However, some so-called Christians also found this to be a great opportunity to spread more hate, saying things like “hell is hot” or “you’ll end up where you belong.”
Both sides are battling to the death in the comments sections, with the fantasy in mind that posting a rude comment will magically make everybody see the matter in the same way they do. Whether it is the Christians or their opponents, everybody was heated. All this boils down to people’s inability to mind their own business and work on themselves first.
While it is understandable why this music video incited panic in the Christian community, it appears to have been their own fault to begin with, according to Lil Nas X. Another commenter said, “lmao maybe he doesn’t respect a religion that doesn’t respect him???”
In other words, neither side is showing any respect in this “battle.” The Christians are afraid of what society has begun to glorify and normalize, and their opponents are no longer afraid of being condemned to hell since Lil Nas X has deemed it desirable. One could hope that this war will end one day, but that does not seem to be in our near future. Until then, it’s important for people to try and remember that kindness and respect can go a long way, regardless of which “side” you are on.