Lil Nas X played outrage culture like a fiddle and won! So if you haven’t watched his latest video Montero, I’m going to give you the chance to go watch it before we dive in.
Now that you’ve watched, I’m going to take you through my initial reaction. As a gay person, I instantly understood. He took the “Gay people are satanic” trope to its natural limit. I mean, getting hit over the head with a dildo and pole dancing his way to hell? We love to see it! I wasn’t a fan before this but that visual definitely earned my subscription but that is not why Lil Nas x is a genius.
Lil Nas X might just be one of the most genius businessmen of our generation, but before we talk about the three important lessons, we can learn from this man.
It’s Lesbian Visibility Week and as a queer woman, I would like to talk about why this video and content like this is important.
This is a great example of art that not only evokes emotion but forces you to stare yourself in the face. We’ve forced young people into boxes for generations and a big box has been the gay people belong in hell box.
I remember when I first started realising that I liked girls. Every single part of me was not only terrified, but I tried to pray against it. I tried to block and reject the very thought of being queer and even now writing public pieces like this and owning my sexuality still comes shrouded in so much fear. The public and society have been allowed and even empowered to say things that continue to not only demonise us but they’ve been able to use this content as excuses to kill us. Finally, we have an artist who stood out saying, so what? Your words have no power here.
In an interview with Time earlier this year Lil Nas said this;
“I grew up in a pretty religious kind of home—and for me, it was fear-based very much. Even as a little child, I was really scared of every single mistake I may or may not have made. I want kids growing up feeling these feelings, knowing they’re a part of the LGBTQ community, to feel like they’re O.K. and they don’t have to hate themselves.”
And I’m happy to say that it’s working.
From Old Town Road to Call Me By Name, Lil Nas X deserves to receive his accolades while his alive.
First of all, the song racked up more than 50 million views in 5 days. To the people who are only watching to show and scream in outrage online:
“You done played yourself.”
Lil Nas X is once again proving that he is the king of virality, and what seems quite messy and chaotic is a lesson in marketing that we all need to pay attention to.
When Old Town Road was released he used memes on Reddit and Tik Tok to gain interest and here he is using Christian conservatives and outrage culture and it’s working like a charm.
Lesson Number 1: The World is Your Stage
When the Montero video came out, Lil Nas X instantly trended and it went over for more than a week. At first glance, it looked like a stream of hate texts and more, ’go to hell’ messages as if we all did not just watch the man kill the devil.
But as you continued to pay more attention, you started to realise that Lil Nas X was not only sharing the praise but the hate too. He was demonstrating one of the most important social media tactics, which is engagement.
The more outraged the internet became, the more he continued to drive his point home which is an important lesson in storytelling. The story here didn’t just begin and end with the music video but he continued the conversation around the symbolism of the video through different videos, tweets, memes and ultimately by sharing and spreading all the news and articles that were popping up in reaction to the video. Instead of letting it become just a one-second reaction that people would forget, he continued the story, showing us once again the power of vitality.
Lesson Number 2: Your Community is Everything
Meme culture is a strong part of the Lil Nas X brand and a huge part of that is fan-created content. He has cultivated a vast community of creators that easily became integrated into his marketing campaign.
Imagine that having hundreds of thousands of people creating and sharing their own original content as part of your marketing campaign. That’s hundreds of thousands of content that you don’t have to pay for, and that’s also hundreds of thousands of different creative brands all becoming a part of your team.
Lil Nas X has not only fostered this creation but continues to share it and encourage it on his pages. Making all his fans feel like a part of the story he is telling. Which is the true mark of community building reaching past the point of seeing your fans as only consumers but also a part of building the story of the brand.
Lesson Number 3: Nothing is an Accident
Okay, so I’m just going to admit that I hadn’t even heard of the video by the time I heard of the shoes with blood on them. Yes, I was late for the party. So here is this man coming up with satanic shoes with blood on them. I had questions, like whose blood would that be? Also, has the world gone insane? So of course I shared it and instantly became a part of the outrage wheel.
Listen, we were all played here, but that’s not the point. The point is the shoes sold out within one minute and with them came even more streams and eyeballs to the story. By the time Nike was suing him, Lil Nas X was celebrating because what seemed to be a fluke accident to the rest of us was something he had planned for 9 months.
Do you hear that, 9 months! This is a lesson that I truly hope every artist/creative learns. No, I’m not saying create that controversial of a video but take time to cultivate your story. How do you want it to play out? What would you like your audience to learn? What’s the story that you want to tell and how do you want to use the internet to tell that story?
The Nike scandal is what eventually got me to watch the video and write this article, which is where I reiterate the power of storytelling.
Lil Nas X made us all a part of his release and ultimately a successful part of his business. We talked about it so much that the song made almost every single major outlet out there, which was no accident at all.
What are you creating?