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Lil Nas X calls out double standard in blood merchandise

By Daniel Lin Sep. 22, 2021

On Aug. 24, Hawk collaborated with Liquid Death, a bottled water company, to release 100 skateboards painted with red paint that was mixed with his own blood. In the launch video for the skateboards, Liquid Death announced that ten percent of the profits of the skateboards would be donated to 5 Gyres, a charity focused on reducing the amount of plastic in the ocean.

Dana Lim Art

A public “blood feud” seems to have erupted between professional skateboarder Tony Hawk and popular singer-songwriter Montero Lamar Hill—literally, among their blood-infused releases.

Several months prior, Hill, known by his stage name “Lil Nas X,” collaborated with art collective MSCHF to sell 666 pairs of “Satan Shoes.” These custom-made Nike Air Max 97 models, each containing a drop of human blood infused into the soles, were released to promote Hill’s new song, “Montero ​​(Call Me By Your Name),” and sold out in minutes. However, both “Montero” and the shoes received immense public backlash from religious conservatives who claimed that the releases promoted satanic worship and homosexuality, as Business Insider reports. Conservative figures such as South Dakota governor Kristi Noem accused the shoes of attacking “the soul of our nation,” while others claimed it was “evil content.” After the release of Hawk’s blood-infused skateboards, Hill tweeted about the double standard he saw: unlike his shoes, Hawk’s product received little criticism, despite both containing blood.

As a gay and Black man, Hill wished to convey his identity to the world through the music video of “Montero,” which featured prominent queer erotic imagery and demonic references. Viewers were astounded by this display, as it contrasted heavily to Hill’s previous collaboration with Billy Ray Cyrus in the trending single “Old Town Road.” Hill, who came out in 2019, mentioned in a video with Genius that such queer representation was critical. Between “Old Town Road” and “Montero,” the opposite reactions he received may demonstrate that there remains a cultural double standard in social conservatives between heterosexual and homosexual erotic imagery.

“The public outcry against the shoes was disrespectful to the identity of Lil Nas X and his music. Although modern society is becoming increasingly progressive, we still have a long way to go in terms of accepting individuals who are considered different from the norm,” Sophomore Ariya Acharya said.

Meanwhile, sportswear giant Nike sued MSCHF for customizing Nike Air Max 97 shoes without permission shortly after Hill’s release. Although the lawsuit that necessitated the destruction of the shoes proved to be valid in court, other artists, such as Kanye West with his Yeezy shoes, have done the same thing in the past yet have suffered no serious repercussions like Hill did.

“I believe everyone is being too sensitive over this drama. Many songs back in the 1980s and 1990s included lyrics about the devil, and even today there are songs released that have satanic themes. I do not understand how people are mad about a singer’s sexuality,” Sophomore Alex Tu said.

Nevertheless, there seems to be no bad blood between the two public stars, as they met up on Aug. 30 to film a comedic skating tutorial to show off both sides’ merch. Although Hill’s shoes had to be destroyed, they did sell out quickly, showing that Hill still has the support of a large fanbase. Meanwhile, both Hawk’s and Hill’s publicity may push more celebrities to sell merchandise with blood in it.


About the Contributors

Dhruv Anish

Staff Writer

Dhruv Anish is a senior at Leland High School and a staff writer for The Charger Account. He likes to watch movies and listen to music in his spare time. His favorite actor is Robert Deniro and his favorite movie is The Godfather: Part 2

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