Lil Nas X released the video for his new song “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” on March 25 to a mixed reception online.
The video involves hell, Satan and homosexualty, angering religious conservatives like Candace Owens, Kristi Noem and more who have called Lil Nas X out online for the video.
Lil Nas X is no stranger to controversy, being both Black and openly gay in a very big spotlight. “MONTERO” was meant to be offensive, to reflect on how he was treated for being queer in his youth, he said on Twitter.
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.— nope 🏹 (@LilNasX) March 27, 2021
University Studies senior Hughes Cowart said he’s not surprised by the negative reaction the song and video received.
The visceral reactions are a result of racism and homophobia, Cowart said, just like the reactions to Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP” in 2020 were driven by racism and misogyny.
“They can’t stand to see people take back control over who they are and reclaim the things that have been used against them,” Cowart said.
For Lil Nas X, the fact that he’s supposedly condemned to hell for being gay is what he’s relcaiming in the video, Cowart said.
Lil Nas X threatens the status quo of subordination that America is founded on and that conservatives aim to preserve, he said.
“A young, Black, gay man is antithetical to the type of person these conservatives think should be wielding cultural influence,” Cowart said.
Lil Nas X got his first taste of public criticism when his breakout hit “Old Town Road” was climbing the charts, and country fans weren’t happy about it. There was major debate from the public and Billboard on whether the song qualified as “country enough.”
“Old Town Road” was taken off the Billboard Country Charts in March 2019, to much speculation. Many said it was because Lil Nas X was a Black artist attempting to take up space in country music, a predominantly white genre.
When he came out as gay in June 2019, Lil Nas X faced even more scruntinty because being a gay rapper is a rarity in the hypermasculine world of hip-hop.
For university studies sophomore Simone Chalabi, the “MONTERO” video was attention-grabbing and told a great story.
She was impressed with the amount of visual symbolism embedded in such a short video, Chalabi said.
“Whether it be Nas’ interpretation of Eden, or his descent into Hell, there isn’t a second that goes by where the viewer isn’t entertained,” she said.
Chalabi feels Lil Nas X has always been proud to be who he is and challenges outdated social standards and norms created by older generations.
Lil Nas X is threatening to conservatives because he represents nontraditional communities, she said.
Society is currently witnessing the generational divide between baby boomers, Generation X, millennials and Generation Z, Chalabi said.
“The Boomers seem to resent younger generations because of their refusal to live by the same outdated social standards they created,” Chalabi said.
Psychology junior Liam Rhodes said that from the lens of being a gay man, he sees three different reasons why conservatives have taken issue with “MONTERO.”
They probably think Lil Nas X is promoting sadist culture, that the video is too gay, or that it’s inappropriate because his breakout song was popular among young children despite that not being the intention, Rhodes said.
LGBTQ+ representation has come a long way, Rhodes said. He didn’t have a lot of gay celebrities to look up to when he was younger, so seeing Lil Nas X provide that for others is incredible despite the backlash, he said.