Satan Saves. Even when it is not what Lil Nas X is saying, it is what Christian America is hearing. How can you explain colors to someone who never had eyes?
Lil Nas X got a new fan
Although I had noticed him before, I had not became a fan until his lap dance to Satan. My fondness is not based in his music quality, though. I do like his voice, the bits and the lyrics, but it is this video what has definitely consolidated my admiration for the young rapper.
Notably, the visual quality of the clip Lil Nas X co-directed with Tanu Muino is exhilarating. Without its narrative framing and completing the lyrics, the song would not be as powerful as it came to be. Additionally, the rapper’s reaction to Christian outrage has turned the hit not only in a pledge for freedom of expression, but in a political weapon in the fight for freedom from religion.
Allegedly, the young rapper could be just looking for notoriety and selling his last single. However, the fact that he is doing it by alienating Christians of all Colors and no Color, is what makes me fall for him. Evidently, we share our understanding of how pervasive Religion is. Specifically in North America 18th century, how pervasive its Christian branch is.
Furthermore, he is doing it by celebrating sex and sexuality. Actually, Lil Nas X’s sexy body is the hub where several intersectional oppressed identities converge. A Young Black Male Promiscuous Queer anti Christian Rapper in the USA is a case study on intersectionality.
Satanist is not
Rather than listing all things our Black Devil is, let’s highlight the one he clearly is not. Lil Nas X is not a Satanist. Far from buying Christian mythology, the rapper plays with it. Satan is just one between many references to Christian and pre-Christian myths that you can find along the 3 minutes video. Of course it is the one who has inspired Christians to display their outrage, mimicking the very reactions they criticize in fundamentalist muslims.
As there are better places where to find the catalogue of the iconography referenced along the clip, I will be less ambitious in this post. We will just deconstruct those we find the most appealing.
In the Garden of Eden
First, we enjoy a recreation of the myth of the Garden of Eden. As all Christian myths, this one has a long pre-Christian history. Accordingly, Lil Nas X and Tanu Muino show us a collection of old ruins belonging to several civilizations. As illustration, the iconic Christian Tree of Life shows the carved depiction of Plato’s words: “After the division the two parts of man, each desiring his other half.”
Breaking with the Ancient Greek and Christian traditions where the creation of mankind is associated with division, Montero (Call Me By Your Name) shows a single man inhabiting Paradise. Instead of impoverishing our human complexity by simplifying it into Manichaeans terms, it challenges us to find our common nature in a single human experience: our self awareness and ability to self creation.
Therefore, the snake bringing temptation is not Other. It is not Satan. It is Ourselves. By having Lil Nas X playing both characters, the Original Man and the Iconic Snake, the narrative brings us to confront ourselves to our own understandings. To illustrate that point, not just these two but all of the characters in this video are played by our mouth watering hero.
Satan does not adopt the form of a reptilian to bring us a tempting object. A sensual Satan is the temptation himself. The directors break with another traditional division. Instead of tempting us with a spiritual knowledge that is out of ourselves, the seduction comes from the sensuality of our own bodies. There is no one higher immaterial self longing for Good and no lower material self longing for Sin. There is one self, longing for Pleasure.
The Colosseum and the French Revolution
History flies in Montero (Call Me By Your Name). From the Eden, we are taken several thousands years forward. Now, we are in the Roman Colosseum, but Lil Nas X is playing characters from the 18th Century. The display of iconic syncretism mixes now Marie Antoinette and the mythic martyrdom of early Christians.
By the way, our rapper looks really sexy in this section, as a pink wigged prisoner. Actually, Lil Nas X looks deliciously edible and fuckable throughout the video, from beginning to end. One of the lines he says is “I wanna sell what you’re buying”. I wish my bank account was big enough to buy him.
Back to the iconography, he also plays each of the guys in the audience. It is not the others who stone our Hero. Is this perhaps a reflection on our inner homophobia? The whole video seems to be an attempt to disempower the Christian mythology used to brainwash us since little babies. This instance of the video seems to highlight how, once again, it is not really the others’ beliefs what affect us the most. It is when we make them our own that we are lost.
Since the very beginning of the video we should know that Lil Nas X is always talking about himself and not about God or Satan. His voice in off gives us a clue when speaks of how “…we hide parts of ourselves we don’t want the world to see.” Sometimes, we even stone those parts.
Falling to Hell
Finally, we arrive to my favorite chapter of this master piece of syncretism. Once again, we are traveling millennia, back to Christian and pre-Christian founding mythology. Lil Nas X seems to be ascending as Daedalus looking for reaching out to the Sun, or a pure Soul or Angel floating towards God.
However, we do not have to wait much to get apart from the myth. Our hero does not fail and fall to his death like in the Ancient Greek Mythology. He does not fall defeated and in disgrace as in Christian and pre Christian iconic stories, to become Satan the Fallen Angel.
No. Instead, the raising Angel turns into smoking hot male stripper not to fall in disgrace but to joyfully descend to Hell. There is no defeat, no dead, no harm in this fall. Like the best pole dancers do, Lil Nas X loves the pole. Rather than a fall, this is a pole ridden journey to Lust.
I am sure this is one of the things that pisses zealots the most. There is no pain, no sadness, no fear, and no hatred. In contrast, all you can see and feel is lust, joy, power, defiance and love.
Satan Saves Us
To close, we arrive to the infamous lap dance for Satan. I guess here is when the zealots walked away in idiotic outrage. Otherwise, should they continued watching up to the end, they would have seen this is not about Satanism. They would have understood that Satan is just Montero’s “sinful” nature being confronted and repossessed.
This is beyond obvious after Lil Nas X responses to religious over reactions. He is not taking sides in the binary confrontation from which simpletons interpret the Universe. He is just playing with the iconography and the mythology used to control our minds and our bodies. Montero has moved on and above their cosmovision.
In the clip’s last seconds, the lap dancer kills his Master and takes control of his body and his desires. Welcome not to Satan’s Hell, but to Montero’s Heaven.
Satan is theirs
Although Christians outraged at this video show their stupidity, their outrage is not totally unfounded. Even when this visual arts master piece is clearly not Satanic iconography, it is equally clear that it is a major middle finger to religious zealots.
Far away from being an example of Satanism, it is however an insult and a personal revenge. How much Lil Nas X actually blames religion for homophobia, society’s and his own, we cannot know. Beyond the rapper’s personal opinion, or his haters’, the role of religious beliefs in the persecution of homosexuals is beyond discussion. Reminding Christians that after being objects they have turned into subjects of persecution and martyrdom is just fair.
Whatever the rapper’s motivations are, there are no doubts that the whole controversy has been a successful marketing operation. Christian zealots’ reactions and Nike’s lawsuit have provided more publicity than any campaign could pay for.
I do find a lot of comfort and pleasure on looking at all these useful idiots working for Lil Nas X’success. However, this is not the main source for the joy this video brings to me.
Anti-religious, and anti-Christian imagery and ideas are not alien to popular music. Let’s not forget Madonna, Sinead O’Connor, and a thousand rockers. However, the fact that a raising Black Male Queer rapper is able to go publicly and ferociously against Christianity in the USA is thrilling. It is another sign of the cultural change of tide we are going through.
You and I have the privilege to enjoy a less Christian, less homophobic, and more sex positive mainstream culture in the United States. We are also witnessing the switch to a Browner America. This is the main source for my joy.
Certainly, Lil Nas X should be recognized as one of the iconic heroes of a new America. Let’s hope he sells what I want to buy.
Hasta la próxima pinga, amig@s