How Lil Nas X Resurrected The Satanic Panic, Pissed Off Nike & Sent Conservatives Into A Tizzy

Lil Nas X

Between the memes and the pitchforks, it’s hard to believe it’s only been a week or so since Lil Nas X unleashed ‘Montero (Call Me By Your Name)’ upon the world. And yet, here we are. If your brain is but a fog right now, and you can’t make much sense of the Satan shoes or the brainwashinginnocentchildren thing, here’s a summary of the controversy (and memes). Strap in, just strap in.

‘Montero (Call Me By Your Name)’ is Lil Nas X’s latest viral song. The title references X’s real name, Montero Lamar Hill, and the Academy Award-winning movie about lovers, played by Timothée Chalamet and Armie Harmer.

Let’s begin with the music video

The visually-charged music video for ‘Montero’ is a lush fantasy world that begins in the Garden of Eden and ends with X’s decent into Hell, via a pole, decked out in thigh-high stiletto boots. There, he rides Satan and then snaps the devil’s neck, claiming his crown for himself.

Watch it, if you haven’t already. I froth it more than the song (sorry!).

Lil Nas X unleashed the music video on March 26 and it immediately went boonta.

X went all in, resulting in a music video that is completely and unapologetically him. It’s queer, it’s self-expression, and it’s horny.

It’s also packed with biblical imagery and Ancient Greek references that has definitely made certain people clutch their pearls.

If you’re interested in the imagery though, I highly recommend sussing out Time‘s article on it. The publication spoke to a slew of historians about the imagery in the music video, from the martyr vibes to the Tree of Life inscribed with a passage from Plato‘s Symposium.

Vanessa Stovall, a scholar of classical studies and ancient mythology, told Time that the passage has long been a source of fascination and inspiration to the LGBTQIA+ community.

When X released ‘Montero’, he shared an emotional open letter to his 14-year-old self, explaining why he released the song and music video.

“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,” X wrote.

“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 fuck out of other people’s lives and stop dictating who they should be.”

What’s the go with the Satan shoes?

Aight, so Nike is suing Brooklyn-based art collective, MSCHF, over its, uh, “unauthorised” Satan shoes.

According to the New York Times, MSCHF started selling 666 pairs of the Nike Air Max 97 for USD$1,018 a pop, in collaboration with X.

In the air bubble of each shoe is (allegedly) a drop of human blood mixed with ink, which six staff members at MSCHF donated.

The shoes also feature a gold pentagram charm, which is commonly associated with the Church of Satan.

One of MSCHF’s founders, Daniel Greenberg, told the NYT that Nike was not involved in the collaboration “in any capacity.”

Naturally, the global shoe brand isn’t very amused with the Satan shoes.

“We do not have any relationship with Little Nas X or MSCHF,” Nike said in a statement on Sunday.

“Nike did not design or release these shoes, and we do not endorse them.”

And then on Monday, the company lawyered up.

“Decisions about what products to put the ‘swoosh’ on belong to Nike, not to third parties like MSCHF,” Nike said in its lawsuit.

The ‘swoosh’ is Nike’s iconic logo.

“Nike requests that the court immediately and permanently stop MSCHF from fulfilling all orders for its unauthorized Satan shoes.”

The lawsuit added that the shoes are likely to cause “confusion and dilution and create an erroneous association between MSCHF’s products and Nike.”

On the same day Nike sued, X uploaded a 46-second apology video about the shoes to YouTube.

At around the six-second mark – when X said, “I just want to come forward and say…” – the apology video cut to the ‘Montero’ music video, specifically the part where the singer whispers “Fuck it, let’s ride” into Satan’s ear.

Lil Nas X is unbothered. 

In the comments of the video, the singer posted a link to the “real apology”, which was of course a link to the full music video.

Why are people so pissed about the music video?

Lil Nas X is hardly the first person to lean on religious imagery in music videos/lyrics and he won’t be the last. Still, and in no surprise whatsoever, a gay Black man wrapped around a pole, sailing down to Hell, has upset people.

This is a prime example:


If this next tweet is anything to go by, their anger hasn’t discouraged the singer. If anything, it’s fuelled his desire to reclaim the narrative the church instilled in him when he was a teenager.

Some parents criticised the artist for [checks notes] releasing ‘Old Time Road’, a ‘fun, pop song’, and then following it up with ‘Montero’. They accused him of luring their children into his fanbase using the pop hit, only to later brainwash them into – I shit you not – turning to “evil”.

X also copped some flack for the similarities between his music video and FKA Twigs‘ ‘Cellophane’, which famously features the artist pole-dancing.

In a post shared to her Instagram on Wednesday, FKA Twigs praised X’s “iconic video”, revealing that the two had shared a “gentle honest conversation” about the similarities.

“Thank you @lilnasx for our gentle honest conversation and for acknowledging the inspiration ‘Cellophane’ gave you and your creative team in creating your iconic video,” she wrote.

How else has Lil Nas X responded to the controversy?

Tweeting and retweeting memes, mostly.

Lil Nas X is extremely good at what he does, and that includes courting the internet. He’s his own best PR guy!

Meanwhile, on TikTok…

TikTok is absolutely eating up the music video, especially the bit when X descends into Hell. Users have recreated the iconic moment on TikTok, with many taking the piss out of historical figures witnessing the descent, or themselves, or demons – the possibilities are endless really.

I can’t stop giggling.


@lilnasx pls notice me

♬ MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) – Lil Nas X


PLZ #greenscreen #gaytiktok #alttiktok #fyp

♬ original sound – Lee


#duet with @lilnasx #lilnasx #callmebyyourname #montero #comedy

♬ original sound – lil nas x

This next one is TOO MUCH:



♬ lil nas dropping by – John

Wait, one more:

‘Montero (Call Me By Your Name)’ really is just the gift that keeps on giving.