Lil Nas X’s ‘Montero (Call Me By Your Name)’ Tops Charts, Scares Conservatives

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Lil Nas X in the music video for “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).” (Courtesy Lil Nas X | YouTube)

By Paige Gardner, Arts Writer

 

21-year-old pop icon Lil Nas X released “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” on March 26, 2021, to widespread critical acclaim. The music video for “Montero,” co-directed by Lil Nas X, is nothing short of absolutely stunning. It is undoubtedly one of the best music videos of the last few years and Rihanna herself even called it “banging.” Only five days after its release the music video had more than 40 million views on YouTube. 

An Anthem for Embracing Who You Are

“In life, we hide the parts of ourselves we don’t want the world to see,” says Lil Nas X at the beginning of the music video for “Montero.” “We lock them away. We tell them ‘no.’ We banish them. But here, we don’t. Welcome to Montero.” 

Lil Nas X, born Montero Lamar Hill, said that his new hit song is about accepting who you are and hopes his music video will help people do that. “I know we promised to never come out publicly,” he said in a post on Twitter addressed to his 14-year-old self. “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.” 

His struggle is relatable to many queer people. The backlash he’s received in the wake of the music video’s release is all too familiar. The pop star has spent the last few days since the song’s release responding to his critics on Twitter, much to the amusement of his fans. 

Spectacular Cinematography

Every moment of the video is completely captivating. The phenomenal costumes, colors and music make it impossible to look away. The kaleidoscopic opening scene in the Garden of Eden weaves seamlessly into a pastel blue, denim-clad panel of Lil Nas X clones judging the artist wearing all pink. The pivotal moment arrives when he is killed during his trial and begins to ascend into heaven. A pole suddenly shoots out from the depths — he uses it to slide down to hell. 

Lil Nas X is the uncontested star of the video and plays every role. Themes from the Bible’s creation story and Christian conceptions of heaven and hell are the main landscapes of the video. The video ends with him killing the Devil and placing his horns on himself, eyes aglow. 

Satanic Panic

Pop culture has been heavily influenced by the Satanic Panic and its effects can be clearly seen in today’s media. Lil Nas X’s video has garnered worldwide attention and has stirred predictable controversy amongst religious conservatives for that reason. Scary sells — the evidence for that is everywhere from movies to, more recently, shoes. While that might be part of the reason Lil Nas X chose to employ Satanic imagery in his video, his queer identity points to a more complicated conclusion.

Like many unsafe spaces for queer people, religious settings are usually full of judgment and violence. A common narrative among homophobic Christians is that queer people are doomed, religiously speaking. Lil Nas X flaunts these claims and presents a new reality for queer people. At its core, the video is about radical self-acceptance. 

The use of metaphor and iconography combined with enchanting imagery make the video a modern masterpiece. After releasing hits like “Montero” and “Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X is on his way to becoming one of the most influential artists of our time. “Montero” and Lil Nas X’s complete discography can be found on most streaming platforms.

 

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