Lil Nas X has made waves with his latest video (Picture: UnderWonder Content/YouTube)
Lil Nas X’s video for Montero (Call Me By Your Name) has caused major controversy since its release last week.
However, outrage over pole-dancing in hell and performing lapdances for Satan has now given way to a lawsuit from Nike.
Confused? We don’t blame you.
Lil Nas X, 21, last week dropped his eagerly awaited single Montero (Call Me By Your Name), and with it came an unapologetically queer video.
The rapper, who came out as gay at the end of Pride Month in 2019, is seen pole-dancing surrounded by flames, being shackled by captors in Regency-era wigs and giving the devil a lapdance before simulating sexual positions.
Writing a letter to his 14-year-old self after its release, Lil Nas X – real name Montero Hill – wrote: ‘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 people’s lives and stop dictating who they should be.
‘Sending you love from the future.’
The video has been watched over 43 million times on YouTube and has received plenty of praise for its creativity and queerness.
However, it has also attracted a lot of controversy for… well, the same things, with conservative figures criticising the video for its ‘demonic imagery’.
Fox News dedicated a segment to the controversy, with a journalist saying: ‘What’s most outrageous is the timing. It was intentionally dropped on the eve of Holy Week. Try this with any other religious group than Christians and Nas might find himself sliding down that pole for real. This is desperate and pathetic.’
Others accused the video of ‘corrupting’ children with its sexual imagery.
Lil Nas X joked about the backlash on Twitter, but admitted that it was ‘putting an emotional toll’ on him, tweeting: ‘i try to cover it with humor but it’s getting hard. my anxiety is higher than ever and stream call me by your name on all platforms now!’
In addition to the backlash to the video, things stepped up a notch when Lil Nas X put his name to a pair of shoes from MSCHF.
Lil Nas X’s Satan Shoes have caused a stir (Picture: MSCHF)
The ‘Satan Shoes’ are a pair of Nike Air Max 97s, containing 60cc ink and a drop of human blood, natch.
Bumping up the satanic imagery, the sneakers feature bronze pentagram and an inverted cross, as well as a reference to a Bible verse, Luke 10:18 – ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven’ – and just 666 pairs of them were sold, with the shoes, with a price tag of $1,018 (£739), all selling out in under a minute.
Of course, the shoes were condemned by conservative figures, with Governor Kristi Noem tweeting: ‘Our kids are being told that this kind of product is, not only okay, it’s “exclusive.” But do you know what’s more exclusive? Their God-given eternal soul.
‘We are in a fight for the soul of our nation. We need to fight hard. And we need to fight smart. We have to win.’
(To which Lil Nas X replied: ‘ur a whole governor and u on here tweeting about some damn shoes. do ur job!’)
Nike is suing MSCHG over the sneakers (Picture: Courtesy of MSCHF/MEGA)
Lil Nas X joked about the controversy on YouTube, posting an ‘apology’ but cutting to the video for Call Me By Your Name seconds in.
Things get tricky, though, when it comes to Nike’s involvement.
Nike issued a statement about the MSCHF x Lil Nas X collab, saying: ‘We do not have a relationship with Little Nas X or MSCHF. Nike did not design or release these shoes, and we do not endorse them.’
They have since sued streetwear label MSCHF, saying that the shoes were produced ‘without Nike’s approval and authorisation and that it was ’in no way connected with this project’.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in New York, reads: ‘There is already evidence of significant confusion and dilution occurring in the marketplace, including calls to boycott Nike in response to the launch of MSCHF’s Satan Shoes based on the mistaken belief that Nike has authorised or approved this product.’
Nike is asking the court to immediately stop MSCHF from fulfilling orders for the shoes and requested a jury trial to seek damages.
Lil Nas X is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, but has joked about the situation on Twitter.