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After his smash hit “Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X has returned with yet another bop that has broken the internet. A story of queer repression, Lil Nas X plays with biblical references in “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” while reclaimingownership of his identity as a gay man.
Lil Nas X, also known as Montero Lamar Hall, prefaces the video with "In life, we hide parts of ourselves we don’t want the world to see / We lock them away, we tell them ‘no’, we banish them / But here, we don’t / Welcome to Montero." Here he is giving access to a part of him he has not yet revealed. By calling this fantasy world “Montero,” he blatantly breaks down barriers, showing his true colors.
“Montero” contains three distinct acts, with the first taking place in what appears to be the Garden of Eden. Lil Nas X plays the role of Adam, sitting at the stump of a tree playing guitar and singing about his lover. “I caught it bad yesterday / You hit me with a call to your place,” he says as a serpent appears. As Adam, Lil Nas X begins to run away but is soon tempted by the serpent, also played by him. An internal struggle becomes apparent as he runs away from a different version of himself, presumably his sexual identity. Now face-to-face, the serpent sings “If Eve ain’t in your garden, you know that you can call me when you want.” Soon after this, Adam is seduced and the two kiss. After, the camera pans to the tree of knowledge, inscribed with a short excerpt from Plato’s “Symposium.” The Greek inscription says “After the division the two parts of man, each desiring his other half.” This phrase is curious, as it alludes to the normalization of homosexuality, and from it, it is becoming more clear that Lil Nas X is speaking out about his sexuality.
As the second verse begins, the scene changes to Lil Nas X shackled in a coliseum wearing a Marie Antoinette wig. It is clear he is not welcome, as the arena is full of shouting figures. Those judging him, who are also all played by him, disapprove of what they see and banish him to his death, yet another example of his internal struggle.
Now dead, his spirit ascends to heaven, and not far behind is an angel who appears to be guiding him. However, before he can reach heaven, a pole emerges from below and Lil Nas X grabs hold of it, sailing down to the depths of hell. This idea was inspired by FKA Twigs’s “Cellophane” music video in which she falls from the sky while pole dancing. This is the first shot in the music video where Lil Nas X is open about his identity. He can be seen with red braids, wearing black briefs, stiletto knee-high boots, and fake tattoos to portray a complete transformation.
At the bottom, he lands in what appears to be hell at the entrance of the devil’s lair, and he confidently walks up to Satan sitting at his throne, passing a Latin phrase “They condemn what they do not understand.” Moments after saying ‘Fuck it. Let’s ride,” he gives the devil a lap dance. For the rest of the song, he continues seducing the devil until the final seconds, at which point he snaps the devil’s neck and removes his horned crown to place upon his own head, taking control of the underworld.
Both the song and the music video for “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” are full of meaning and biblical references, alluding to Lil Nas X’s upbringing in a religious community where he was taught to hate himself and made to believe he did not belong. This music video takes the homophobia often associated with Christian communities and spins it to play in Lil Nas X’s favor. He illustrates the power one is capable of when they accept who they are, as he deceives the devil, becoming ruler of the underworld.
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