Photo courtesy of flickr.com.
Lil Nas X, an up and coming gay rapper who is most famous for his song “Old Town Road,” recently came out with a new single called “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” on March 26, 2021. Since its premiere on YouTube it has accumulated 82,117,548 views and ranked in the top 10 on music charts all over the world. I intend to help bring a little more clarity to this creative albeit confusing masterpiece by breaking down the music video.
The music video is filled with stark visuals that contrast greatly throughout the video. The first verse of the song is shown in a rather bright and whimsical scene. There are a lot of bright colors and interesting or unusual textures that are being represented. It is almost like paradise, or possibly Lil Nas X’s vision of paradise.
What follows is a chase scene between Lil Nas X and a snake-like creature. The snake appears to represent the desires that one holds that they should not act on. The entire song revolves around acting on your darkest desires, and this snake seems to be the embodiment of those desires. Montero, the paradise, is described as the place where you do not have to hide yourself. There are several religious connections depicted through the music video, most notably the book of Genesis. One line in particular mentions Eve and the Garden of Eden. This is significant because Eve is known for introducing sin to the world when she ate the forbidden fruit.
We are then whisked away to a Roman colosseum where Lil Nas X is on trial, likely for acting on those desires. He is dressed in pink, while the judges who preside over his trial are in blue. This represents the fact that he is separate from them, and those who would rather him sit still. The symbolism of the trial represents the taboo nature of acting on the darkest parts of yourself. Rather than locking them away, Lil Nas X describes embracing them and facing the consequences.
After Lil Nas takes a rock to the face from the angry crowd, we see him floating through the clouds and the silhouette of an angel above him. This resembles him going to heaven. However, before he reaches the angel, a pole ascends from hell and Lil Nas X takes it. He is saying he would rather embrace his darkness than be forced to hide it. What follows is something that has caused quite a bit of controversy. We see Lil Nas X giving a lap dance to the devil.
While this might cause some anger and concern in certain people, ranging from the South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem to Twitter personality Candace Owens, it seems to be intentional. Lil Nas X wants you to be angry, or at the very least, understands that this will upset people. That being said, the entire point of this song is not to listen to those who think that you are wrong. The message is to embrace every part of yourself, regardless of what other people think. The video then ends with Lil Nas X killing the devil and taking his horns, symbolizing his full acceptance of his sin.
As a whole this music video is full of creative elements and editing. Lil Nas X is the only person depicted, besides the devil. This is a one man show, quite literally. This can symbolize the inner struggle with accepting the darker side of yourself, as well as the struggles that come from other people. There is a lot of religious imagery that Lil Nas X uses, constantly referring to sin and “living in the dark.” It goes to show that Lil Nas X isn’t afraid to be himself and he never intends to be anything less.
In response to the hate and backlash due to the music video, Lil Nas X has not shied away from Twitter warfare. He has defended himself and his music through Twitter comebacks and doesn’t appear to be backing down anytime soon. Even with the controversy behind his MSCHF Partnership and the Satan Shoes. While Nike has filed a restraining order on the shoes, Lil Nas X shows no signs of backing down.
Hopefully this brought a little clarity to the mash up of themes that Lil Nas X utilized. While it might be a little much to take over the mantle of the devil, it is important to be your whole self. Don’t hide parts of yourself away because it is what is socially acceptable. If Lil Nas X isn’t afraid, why should you be?