Lil Nas X‘s music video for his latest single ‘MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)’ has caused some controversy amongst the more traditionalist individuals on the internet.
The video, which features Lil Nas X sliding down a stripper pole to give a lap dance to Satan in hell, has been labelled inappropriate by many who claim that it is ‘targeting’ children and will have a negative effect on them:
”The system is targeting kids. Lil Nas X’s fanbase is mostly children. They did the same thing with Miley Cyrus after Hannah Montana.” – @MintChipMusic
Many critics of the song have claimed that because Lil Nas’ first viral hit ‘Old Town Road’ was less overtly explicit, a portion of his fanbase is now made up of children. A video of the musician performing ‘Old Town Road’ to a group of schoolchildren in 2019 has been circulating on social media to back up these claims. However, these critics seem to have ignored the fact that ‘Old Town Road’ includes the lyrics ‘lean all in my bladder’ and ‘bull riding and boobies’ – certainly no less explicit than the themes of ‘MONTERO’. But clearly, the kids in the video seem more interested in dancing as if they’re on a horse, rather than dwelling on the suggestive lyrics.
This leads onto the bigger question of whether or not famous musicians like Lil Nas X should be pandering their art to children. Lil Nas has defended himself in response to this, saying:
”there was no system involved. i made the decision to create the music video. i am an adult. i am not gonna spend my entire career trying to cater to your children. that is your job.”
He’s right. It is not the job of artists and musicians to consider whose children may be watching, and it is certainly not their job to raise them. That’s the job of the parent. If the content of Lil Nas’ music video offends you as a parent, then it is your responsibility to keep your children from seeing it – there are plenty of parental controls that can be added onto sites such as Youtube or Netflix which can help you with this. However, it seems that the issue runs deeper than just keeping sexual content away from children. When Cardi B released ‘WAP’ with Megan Thee Stallion, both artists were criticised for the overt depiction of female sexuality and desire, but no one was claiming that it might corrupt children.
So what is the difference here? Well, it’s a pretty obvious one: Lil Nas X is gay. The musician came out in 2019, and since then has been exploring his identity more openly in his music and accompanying music videos.
‘MONTERO’ is a song which discusses consensual sexual experience between men, and the video is ground-breaking for its retaliation against homophobia in religion. Lil Nas uses theological imagery to challenge the idea of homosexuality being a sin; he reclaims the religious ideas that are normally used for discrimination, and instead uses them to celebrate LGBTQ+ identity and culture. It’s no surprise that this offends many people. Seeing religion being used as a celebration of queer identity, rather than being used to condemn it, is quite a shock for some. So back to the question of censorship: it’s your choice as a parent to decide what your child does or doesn’t get to see. Perhaps this particular music video is too sexually explicit to show a child, but the depiction of homosexuality should certainly not be the reason that you hide it from them. Lil Nas X is an adult, and has every right to talk about adult experiences. If ‘MONTERO’ was broadcast on CBeebies, it would be a different question. But it’s not.
This is not a question of safeguarding, it’s a question of homophobia.