It's the perfect statement to once again make the music industry squirm and confront its arbitrary gate-keeping of what's accepted within certain genres and their typical lack of diversity.
After causing upheaval in country music, the Twitter-verse, and our innermost souls where catchy songs go to die, Lil Nas X has made another bold declaration that makes it clear he's only here for the memes.
On June 30, the final day of Pride Month, the 20-year-old seemed to come out on Twitter, posting, "Some of y'all already know, some of y'all don't care, some of y'all not gone fwm no more. but before this month ends i want y'all to listen closely to c7osure. 🌈🤩✨" After launching his career through Internet's gimmicky meme-culture and riffing on outdated country tropes with his brand of "country-trap," it's hard to take the singer's glib Tweets seriously—especially since queer-baiting, pandering, and profiting off the LGBTQ+ community has become an unfortunate underpinning of Pride Month (hi, Taylor Swift, you'll get plenty of attention soon).
In "C7osure," the lyrics Lil Nas X is probably referring to are, "Ain't no more actin' / Man that forecast say I should just let me grow / Pack my past up in the back, oh, let my future take ahold / This is what I gotta do, can't be regrettin' when I'm old." Like most of the tracks on Lil Nas X's debut EP, 7, the lyrics are perfectly generic and vague enough to project any experience onto. They're as recyclable as a meme. In fact, the artist's first EP does little more than dabble in various genres, as Montero Lamar Hall struggles to pinpoint who his persona Lil Nas X is and what he represents. As Pitchfork noted after the EP's release, "We don't learn a single thing about Lil Nas X on 7 other than he might have actually been born in a Reddit test tube in 2018."
He followed up with a second Tweet of pictures of his EP cover and the post, "deadass thought i made it obvious." The image's cowboy-in-the-big-city shtick features some multicolor lighting in the blurred out background, which he zooms in on to imply that his use of "rainbow" colors was a wink to his sexuality.
In response, his manager, Adam Leber, called him "incredibly brave and an inspiration to all the young kids who follow and look up to you." Fans embraced Lil Nas X and posted their support on Twitter and Instagram, with some sharing the artist's tongue-in-cheek tone that it shouldn't even have been a surprise. One user posted, "Me watching yall freak out about lil nas x being gay while i, an intellectual, know that every cowboy is gay."
It's the perfect statement to once again make the music industry squirm and confront its arbitrary gate-keeping of what's accepted within certain genres and their typical lack of diversity. From country music's historically racist overtones to trap music's forgiveness of frequent homophobia (as well as country music's, frankly), a queer "country-trap" artist is a gorgeous (and much-needed) sentiment to challenge those outdated strictures.
However, when a flashy newcomer who's meme-d his way to the number one spot on music charts makes yet another controversial statement that makes Twitter squeal with delight, it's fair to question its authenticity. And that's a tragic fact, a contradictory runoff effect from our long-awaited cultural celebration of queer artists. None of that's to say that a prominent artist (seeming) to come out is anything but laudatory, but the music industry will profit off of anything. And with meme-culture making gimmicks, shareability, and shock-value more profitable than ever, we should all have trust issues with the Internet. As one user wrote, "Anyone shocked Lil Nas X is queer missed the most painfully obvious clue: he's actually good at Twitter." The Internet-savvy cynic has to wonder if it's possible to be too good at Twitter. Until Lil Nas X solves his identity crisis as an artist and becomes more than a meme, his tongue-in-cheek posts about his sexuality feel like Taylor-Swift-style queerbaiting more than an authentic celebration of Pride Month.
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The quarterback said "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country." And then he tried to apologize. And only made it worse.
Drew Brees, a man who makes literally millions of dollars for throwing a ball, has come under fire for insensitive comments he made about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality.
"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said in the interview with Yahoo Finance. He clarified that this was in part because he envisioned his grandfathers, who fought in World War II, during the National Anthem. He continued, saying, "And is everything right with our country right now? No. It's not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together. We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution."
This isn't the first time Brees made it clear that he cares more for the idea of a make-believe unified America than he does for actual human lives. In 2016, he criticized Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem, saying it was "disrespectful to the American flag" and "an oxymoron" because the flag gave critics the right to speak out in the first place.
Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of racist police brutality
Of course, the flag's alleged ideals have been proven to only be applicable to wealthy, white men—men like Brees. Sure, his grandfathers did a noble thing when they fought under the US flag during WWII, and no one, including Kaepernick, has ever said that sacrifice isn't worth respecting. Thanks to the sacrifices of many people (including the enslaved Black backs upon which this country was built, including the scores of routinely abused Black soldiers who fought for American lives), America has offered opportunity and peace for many, many people. In particular, Ole' Glory has been very kind to men like Brees: rich, white men who still control the majority of the power and the wealth in the United States.
But what about the rest of us, Drew? What about George Floyd whose neck was crushed by a police officer who kneeled on him so casually that he didn't even take his hand out of his pocket? What about Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot for the crime of being Black and going for a jog? What about Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was murdered by police in her home in the middle of the night for a crime that had nothing to do with her? What about Tony McDade, Drew–have you heard his name? Have you heard about the 38-year-old Black trans man who was gunned down in Florida last week? Do you understand why these people's family's may harbor just a bit of disrespect for your precious flag?
Is it possible for you to realize, Drew, that your wish for "unity" is not a wish for progress, but a wish to maintain the status quo? When you call for unity under the American flag, you're talking about your flag, the flag that represents a long, sordid history of racial oppression and violence. There is no unity where there is no justice. When you say that "we are all in this together," what you're saying is that we all have roles to play in the version of society that has served you so well. For your part, you'll be a rich, white man, and for Black people's part, they'll continue to be victims of state-sanctioned murders– but hopefully more quietly, hopefully in a manner that doesn't make you uncomfortable?
When you say, "We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution," what you mean to say is that POC and their allies are at fault. Sure, you probably agree that Derek Chauvin took it a bit too far, and you probably feel a little self-conscious that he's brought all this "Black rights" stuff up again. But when you say "all," you place blame on the victims who are dying under a broken system. And what, exactly, do you expect POC to do differently, Drew? Ahmaud Arbery was just out jogging, and still he died. George Floyd was just trying to pay a cashier, and still he died. POC and their allies try to peacefully protest by marching in the streets or taking a knee at a football game, and still white people condemn and criticize. Still the police shoot.
After much criticism, Brees did attempt an apology on Instagram, where he posted a hilariously corny stock photo of a Black and white hand clasped together. His caption, though possibly well-intentioned, made it even clearer that his understanding of the movement for Black lives is thoroughly lacking.
Highlights of the "apology" include his immediate attempt to exonerate himself from culpability, claiming that his words were misconstrued, saying of his previous statement: "Those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character." Unfortunately, Drew, white people like you are the "enemy," as you put it, because by default you are at the very least part of the problem. No one is accusing you of being an overt racist, Drew; no one thinks you actively and consciously detest Black people. But your lack of empathy, your apathy, and your unwillingness to unlearn your own biases are precisely what has persisted in the hearts and minds of well-meaning white Americans for centuries.
Next, you say, "I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the Black community in this movement." No, Drew. Just no. Black people don't need white people's savior complexes to interfere in their organizing; what they need is for us to shut up and listen. What they need is for us to get our knees off of their necks.
Finally, you say, "I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy." This, Drew, is suspiciously similar to saying, "But I'm one of the good whites!" The fact of the matter is that feeling the need to prove your allyship is not about helping a movement; it's about feeding your own ego. Not only that, but your emphasis on "ALWAYS" does a pretty good job of making it clear that you don't think you have a racist bone in your body and that you have taken great offense at any accusations to the contrary. I have some news for you, Drew: Every white person is racist. Sure, the levels vary, and while you may not be actively and consciously discriminating against POC, you have been brought up in a racist system, and your implicit biases are as strong as any other white person's. Your job now is to unlearn those biases and confront those subtle prejudices in yourself and in other white people. Maybe the first step in doing so is just shutting your f*cking mouth about kneeling at football games. Maybe you should even consider taking a knee yourself.
For other non-BIPOC trying to be better allies, check out one of these 68+ anti-racism resources.
We're glad they're on our side.
The world is up against a seemingly insurmountable threat, but luckily, we've got a crack team of heroes on the case.
Sure, there's already the girl with super strength, the guy who can fly, and the anthropomorphic, trash-talking animal tailor-made for merchandise. But this is a threat of intergalactic proportions, and we're going to need all the help we can get if we want to survive.
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