Is Lil Nas X ‘Montero’ pregnancy photoshoot insensitive?
- Lil Nas X, born Montero Lamar Hill, is an American rapper, known for his widely successful hip-hop country mix “Old Town Road” that won two Grammys.
- On September 2, 2021, Lil Nas X posted a faux pregnancy photoshoot debuting his album “Montero” set to release on September 17. He came up with the idea based on his stylist’s joke after he mentioned the album was his baby, “Yeah, you should do a pregnancy shoot.”
- His pregnancy shoot received both applause and criticism. Many found his announcement to be clever and entertaining, while others found it insensitive; one Twitter user said, “This ain’t the wave. They got women who can’t celebrate pregnancy das infertile n s--n dude doing this.”
- On Monday, March 29, 2021, Lil Nas X released 666 pairs of “Satan Shoes” that contain a “drop” of blood in the sole with streetwear company MSCHF.
- On May 28, 2020, Lil Nas X appeared on HBO’s Sesame Street spin-off The Not-Too-Late Show to sing a duet with Elmo. In January 2021, he announced his kids book C is for Country, saying he is “OK” with children making up most of his fanbase.
Lil Nas X is overlooking the way his fake pregnancy photoshoot may affect those around him. Some women—fans of his—may be unable to get pregnant. Seeing this pop star joke about becoming pregnant with a music album would be very insensitive to women who wish they could be pregnant but simply can't. Lil Nas X should have chosen a more conventional way of announcing his album, one that wouldn't hurt and offend women.
Pregnancy is a beautiful, life-giving process—not a joke that celebrities can use to get attention and, subsequently, more money. He had already announced the arrival of his new album with another Instagram post, one that mocked Drake's new album by mimicking Drake's album cover art and earning Lil Nas X more backlash. His actions show a complete disregard for the type of influence and privilege that he has as a celebrity just to get attention, and he's setting a poor example for the young and impressionable children who look up to him and consume his content.
This pregnancy announcement wouldn't be the first time the singer was accused of being insensitive. Lil Nas X has found himself in a series of controversial/problematic situations, and many of them were insensitive in some way. His blood-infused shoe design released earlier this year stirred up disagreements with religious organizations and ended in a lawsuit with Nike over trademark infringement. The singer has proven that he has no regard for how his actions will make people feel or who they'll affect, so it's not a stretch to say this fake pregnancy photo shoot is an insensitive act as well.
A recent tweet from Lil Nas X amidst this controversy brilliantly sums up the humor and harmlessness of the rapper's recent advertising campaign: 'boys have been putting basketballs under their shirt to look pregnant since 1891. Your son will be alright.' There is nothing derogatory or obscene about the humorous and clever image; art is often at its best when it is provocative.
While obviously different from carrying actual life, the process of releasing an album is not unlike pregnancy in that the artist carries the ideas and an entire body of work within themselves until the release date, where it is put out into the world. In explaining the thought process behind the photoshoot, Lil Nas X illustrated how we frequently refer to things dear to us as 'my baby.' Surely, no one thinks it insensitive if a businessperson refers to a big project as 'their baby.' In fact, using pregnancy to refer to things aside from a woman carrying a baby is quite common in our language. One might say the air was 'pregnant with anticipation' before a storm unleashes or refer to a loaded silence as a pregnant pause. Lil Nas X has simply taken a harmless and common phrase a step further in a brilliant marketing campaign.
What is truly insensitive about the Lil Nas X photoshoot is anyone who has projected their own vision of what masculinity or male sexuality should look like over the images released by the rapper. Just as any other person is free to express themselves in any way they choose to present, the image of Lil Nas X pregnant is not insensitive.