A Few Things That Are Worse For Children Than a Damn(ed) Music Video
The gall of some people.
Less than two weeks after the American empire* was nearly brought to its knees not by a lethal virus, nor by draconian restrictions on voting rights, nor by the triumphant return of its national pre-pandemic pastime of mass shootings, but by a couple of women rapping about getting their freak all the way on at the Grammys, the nation was rocked again by a provocative musician with no absolutely no regard for the fragility of the land he calls home.
Yes, ’tis Lil Nas X, known for singing “Old Town Road” and literally no other song because it’s important for the sake of this story that I play up that he’s responsible for something that was incredibly popular with children two years ago. Evidently the horse that the rapper was taking to the eponymous road was a literal nightmare, and Lil Nas X himself was no mere cowboy, but neigh, a Horseman of the apocalypse incarnate. For his newest music video “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” is rife with all manner of Satanic imagery, the likes of we have never seen before and with luck, will be spared from ever seeing again.
But see it we have, and the damage may well have been done. First, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion sullied the all-American ritual of cooking macaroni in a pot, and now this? How can we possibly surv — aight, I can’t do this. I’ve already done one sarcastic piece this month, I’m not going for a double.
As someone who’s seven years older than he is, Lil Nas X’s music doesn’t really do anything for me. That includes “Montero,” be that the song itself or its accompanying video. But as someone not in the target audience either in age or in sexuality, if it resonates, then it resonates. And more power to the Lil’ One for it, devil-grinding and all. As far as the whole “Satan Shoes” bugaboo, that part admittedly feels a hell of a lot more like an attention-grabbing stunt in a de facto Christian country than an artistic statement — an unnecessary provocation for its own sake than any kind of calculated subversion.
But considering that unnecessary provocation for its own sake has been an effective business model for music, journalism, gun sales, political fundraising, and just good ol’ fashioned racism, in a sense, Lil Nas X is being as American as the McRib. And whatever else he may or may not be, the man is a stellar social media troll. I thought I was good at snark, but hoo. Game recognizes game.
That’s all that I really want to say about it. “Popular Music is Destroying America’s Youth” is a tale as old as time, and unlike the movie from which that phrase originates, I have no real interest in revisiting it. But since it’s a Topical Thing at the moment, with the lawsuits over here and the Twitter beefs over there and the hot takes aplenty every which way, why not?
So here’s the hot take, straight out of the seventh circle — an ideology that doesn’t care about the state of children’s lives doesn’t get to pretend it cares about their souls. Full stop.
You know what’s really bad for kids, souls and all? Bullying! Bullying is really bad for kids. Particularly when they’re bullied for being any one or a combination of the letters that encompass the LGBTQ community — you know, the community to which Lil Nas X belongs and for whom “Montero” is reportedly written. You know how bullying has a demonstrable intensifying effect on suicidal ideation, especially for LGBTQ people? Now do you want to guess what organization silently lobbied to kill legislation funding the National Suicide Hotline because it contained resources dedicated specifically to that community?
While we’re on the subject of suicide, you know what else is really bad for kids, souls and all? Getting shot! Not just in the mass shootings that it’s not worth pretending to be surprised by anymore because lawmakers in this country will never try to solve the problem, but in suicides, which have long accounted for the majority of gun deaths in America. If gun violence prevention efforts accomplished literally nothing else but requiring that guns be properly locked away when not in usage, researchers estimate that up to a third of suicidal or accidental gun deaths in kids could be shaved off.
But if you make people lock up their guns, we all know that’ll lead to communism, so we can’t do that.
You know what else is really bad for kids, souls and all? Climate change! You know that thing that’s only getting worse with time and that kids, what with their annoying habit of being younger than adults, will have to live with longer than we will? Remember how the most prominent child climate activist was treated by the conservative intelligentsia for having the temerity to suggest that the leaders of the world get off their collective asses and do something about it?
Just a suggestion, but maybe people literally burning on Earth is a more pressing concern than their potentially burning for all eternity after death. We’ve still got confessionals.
You know what else is bad for kids? Hearing that their lives, and the lives of their teachers, and the lives of their parents, should potentially be endangered for the sake of keeping the economy open, because COVID-19 doesn’t have a perfect mortality rate. Something something something “the cure cannot be worse than the disease,” I believe that particular song and dance went. And I don’t know about you, but I think the prospect of literally trying to sacrifice other people’s lives on the altar of personal prosperity is far more demonic than any music video or Qockamamie Qonspiracy theory could ever be.
If you actually want to protect children, listen to them. Listen to their hopes, their fears, their concerns, and quit brushing them off as stupid kids whenever they say something you don’t want to hear if you don’t want them to do the same thing to you. Matthew 7:12 cuts both ways.
Again, I don’t begrudge people in general for being more than a little wigged out by the whole Montero business. The video’s fine, but literally selling six hundred and sixty-six copies of a shoe with actual human blood in the soles is… a little too Marilyn Manson for my tastes. I get it.
But for the people who spent the last three months bitching all up and down about cancel culture because Mr. Potato Head is nonbinary now and children’s books got slightly less racist and who now want a goofy rapper burned at the stake over a three minute music video, or who tripped over themselves to “protect” cisgender girls from the specter of having to compete against transgender girls in high school sports… spare me.
Y’all picked a very peculiar time to start pretending you give a fuck about children.
Also, and I get that this is largely unimportant for the purposes of this piece, but when did being a empire become something that America was supposed to be proud of? Isn’t that just the part of the history book we’re supposed to pretend doesn’t exist?