If you haven’t been privy to one or both sides of the shouting match about a music video that dropped a few days ago, and the sale of the shoes that go with them, here’s the update.
Rapper LilNasX made a music video with graphic imagery sexualizing satan (?) In the video, he wears custom shoes – which he made available for sale (but only 666 pairs…see what he did there?…so clever) for over $1000. They sold out in minutes. They are strangely modified Nikes -which Nike is now suing over. Among other things they have a Bible reference (“I saw an angel fall from heaven”) and supposedly – a drop of human blood injected inside.
To the right is a screen shot of some of the HUNDREDS of ‘news’ articles currently being published about him, the song, the video, and almost every time -the shoes.
Like many of these events – on one side is those who identify as ‘conservatives’ or ‘moral’ and are outraged over everything to do with this. On the other are ‘liberals’ or ‘free-thinkers’ or ‘progressives’ who mostly mock how upset the first group are. As always, online postings and comment sections are about the worst place possible to have a discussion about something people feel strongly and deeply about.
While I don’t condone or support pretty much anything that he is trying to say (with the music, video, or shoes) I do think before anyone identifying as a Christian comes out swinging, we should perhaps just reflect for a minute.
I’m not saying don’t disagree with what he says, or how he says it, or whatever. Just think about how you are coming across in what you are saying, and perhaps even more – how you are saying it.
Here are 5 points to think about:
- If you disagree with LilNasX and what he’s trying to say, yet you’re talking about him, reposting articles about him, you are giving him publicity. That’s what he wanted. He wanted you to get publicly upset and talk about how upset you are with him. If you did, he succeeded. (Yes – this pot is calling out the kettle)
- This is not new. For as long as ‘teenager’ has been a category with a unique socio-cultural identity and buying power (that is: the late 1950’s) there has been a market to sell products in this way. Since adolescence is a time of finding identity which is different than ‘child’ and since children do what their parents instruct them to, there is a fairly easy sell of “your parents don’t approve of this – so consume it.” Popular music has utilized this from the very beginning: from non-conformant hair-styles in the late ’50s; the allusion to drug use in 60’s rock, political protest in the 70’s folk, satanic imagery in 80’s heavy metal, explicit language in 90’s rap, to sexualized/pornographic imagery in the ’00s. This is not new, this is the latest chapter. Sure it’s pushing a boundary, but you have to if you want people to notice, and make a scene (see #1 above)
- It appears LilNasX is at least partially speaking out of the hurt that he has suffered at the hands of Christians and the church throughout his life. There are ways to disagree with people that don’t target them, belittle them, degrade them. He does not seem to have received that treatment. If we shun, scorn, and insult people- we probably shouldn’t be surprised if they come back with their hurt turned into anger.
- Saying non-Christians should abide by Christian moral principles is not as easy nor obvious of an argument as some would like it to be. If you think what he’s doing or saying should be illegal/banned/censored – just be aware of where this argument can take you. Should we have some standards in society regarding morals? If yes, who decides them? How are they set? Do they ever get changed? These are not flippant questions. Unless you don’t believe in religious freedom (relegated to extreme fringe voices of the Christian world) and would like to institute a theocracy that dictates all moral decision-making through legislation, then we will have to have these difficult conversations.
- If you are bothered by the thought of having a single drop of human blood voluntarily put into the manufacture of a shoe – but having blood, sweat, and tears forcibly shed in sweatshops for basically every other pair of shoes means nothing, then….perhaps rethink your position.