Still from Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” video, directed by Lil Nas X and Tanu Muino
We have to take Lil Nas X’s Satanic lap dance in his video for “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” very seriously. With this vivid image, the 21-year-old openly gay rapper presents a critique of American culture that is even more devastating than Childish Gambino gunning down a black church choir in “This Is America.” The latter critique allows the taking of prisoners; the former does not. This is the power and true political potential of a critique that will, to use the word of the 1980s electro duo Cybotron, “clear,” as in clear/delete your mind. [embedded content]
Or you can think of it as related to Nietzsche’s philosophizing with a hammer. This is less a way of checking the hollowness of a culture’s idols (which is better done with a tuning fork) than just plainly smashing them to pieces. Once you see the dick-hardening Satan dance, you are either with X or not. This American idol (Satan as the essence of evil; the US as the essence of all that is good) is smashed into a thousand pieces. And it is here that I regard X as potentially the first radical figure that 21st-century popular music has produced. We are no longer on the “Old Town Road,” Dorothy.
@LilNasX entering the fire pits of hell then giving Satan a lap dance ?? What is this man 😭🤦🏾♂️ satanic af !! How don’t people see that the music industry is full of demonic & satanic people , this video is clearly a ritual , gay agenda & clear demonic visuals pic.twitter.com/pVTF9VtHTc
— LC2 ☔️ (@R3alest_) March 27, 2021
The kind of feeling expressed in this tweet is predictable and, after the American-idol smashing lap dance, has no universal currency. All it tells us is this is a “no.” But what those on the “yes” side very well know is X is not presenting Satan as an alternative to Christianity. He is only hammering one of the many dated and, for millions of non-straight people, mentally and physically pernicious idols of American Christianity (homosexuality is a sin against nature, God’s love is limited to straight couples, and so on) to, indeed, “clear” the way for an American society that is beyond the lap dance in hell. If you, as a Christian, cherish those idols—idols that actually limit the scope and power of God’s love, and refuse to let them go—then you are missing the opportunity presented in X’s dance with the devil: He is opening, rather than closing, the flows of God’s love. I call this approach “negative theology.” It’s a process by which God’s passions are liberated by indirection.
But there is something more at work in this video. It is openly gay. The image of the man-on-man lap dance is exactly an image of a man-on-man lap dance. I think this fact has offended more people than the Satan thing. But hiphop has been here before. The male stripper is celebrated in Man 2 Man and Man Parrish’s “Male Stripper.”
But how is this hiphop? This only shows you are not a true hiphop head. Man Parrish is the name that connects the hi-energy track to hiphop. Gay Man Parrish first made his name as the producer of the early classics “Hip Hop Be Bop (Don’t Stop)” and “Boogie Down (Bronx).” Lil Nas X is more in the spirit of Man Parrish than Nas.
But let’s pull back and examine our pop galaxy as a whole. One must believe that the number of music videos of “hos” dancing on polls and dry humping rappers in strip clubs must outnumber the stars in the Milky Way. This is the other idol that X is smashing with this lap dancing hammer. It is that of the “black macho” authority to “mack [a] ho,” if I may use the language of Michelle Wallace‘s masterpiece of black feminist theory, Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman. Can you imagine Snoop doing X’s thing to a man/devil? Or Jay-Z. Or Post Malone?
Post Malone managed to stack $50,000 worth of hard currency inside several boxes and brought them to the strip club. It was a very Posty night in Miami a couple of days ago, as rapper/pop star Post Malone decided to carry on the Christmas cheer right through to the new year. The rapper and his crew pulled up on a Miami club where he was partying and dropped a cool $50,000 in singles.
Hiphop also has many idols that deserve to the smashed and done away with. As for the Satan/human blood sneakers? They sold “out in under a minute.” But all of us have never seen Satan, as Marx put it, “[come into the world] dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.” The same cannot be said of America’s brand of evangelical Christianity.