Lil Nas X has parents seeing red after the release of the "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)" music.
Inspired by his struggles with sexuality growing up, the 21-year-old's latest work features imagery including the Garden of Eden, heaven and the rapper sliding down a pole into hell where he gave Satan a lap dance, a metaphor for the church telling him that being gay would send him straight to Hell. As of Monday, the music video has more than 34 million views and counting.
Lil Nas X was praised for the visuals and symbolism in the video as well as breaking out of the box of what is usually acceptable around gay representation.
Yet not all responses are positive, with the artist facing intense backlash. Lil Nas X has been accused of worshipping the devil and promulgating the "gay agenda." He even caught the attention of conservative commentator Candace Owens, who said Lil Nas X is "destroying our youth," as well as South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. “Our kids are being told that this kind of product is, not only okay, it's ‘exclusive,’” the politician posted on Twitter. “But do you know what's more exclusive? Their God-given eternal soul.”
Lil Nas X, who is known for humorously trolling homophobic comments, responded to much of the criticism on social media, including a comment from rapper Joyner Lucas, who brought up his viral hit "Old Town Road," which was popular among adults and children alike.
"I think the biggest problem for me is the fact that he dont understand "old town road" is every kids anthem. Children love him for that record. They tuned in and subscribed to his channels. So with no disclaimer he just dropped some left field ish & all our kids seen it. Smh," Lucas tweeted.
Lil Nas X clapped back saying, "I literally sing about lean & adultery in old town road. u decided to let your child listen. blame yourself."
He previously responded to someone else who accused him of "targeting kids." Lil Nas X responded, "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."
Lil Nas X also responded to parents on TikTok when he dueted himself reacting to a video of a woman sarcastically showing concern about the effects the video would have on her toddler.
"This new 'Call Me By Your Name' song by Lil Nas X is unacceptable. As a mother, I need to speak out against this because children are impressionable. My son is going to watch this and want thigh-high boots, and I don't even know where you find thigh-high boots for a toddler. This song is going to make him start pole dancing at the park and children don't have 1s to throw at him. So now my son's just out there throwing it back for free? These celebrities are role models. I mean, if they don't raise my kids, I have to," Elizabeth Houston said.
The Lil Nas X controversy is just the latest saga in the debate around artist responsibility. Earlier this month, Cardi B. faced similar blowback for her Grammy Awards performance of her hit song "WAP," which featured Megan Thee Stallion, and included the rapper pole dancing on stage as well as in a giant bed with Megan. Cardi B responded to an Instagram comment that called her a hypocrite for not allowing her 2-year-old daughter, Kulture, to listen to the song after she posted a video of herself quickly turning the song off in front of her child.
"My daughter doesn't need to listen to music to be empowered neither should your children," wrote. "The only way to empower your kids is by talking to them, boost their confidence and making sure they get a good education. I never ever said that WAP was made to empower women, I'm just a freaky person and this is not the first sex song ever made. Stop expecting celebs to raise your kids."
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