Over the weekend, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem was moved to deliver an exciting and funeral statement on the health of this United States of America. “We are fighting for the soul of our nation”, she tweeted. “We have to win.” Is the fighter standing in his way? Not a pandemic that has killed over half a million Americans, nor the recent spate of gun violence that has rocked the country. For Noem, the fight is on foot. A pair of shoes from Lil Nas X put sneakers at the center of culture wars – a place that, as the sneaker industry continues to thrive, seems to end up every few years.
To catch up: Lil Nas X released a new song and video on Friday called “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”. In the video, things between Satan and Lil Nas X get hot and the singer gives the devil a lap dance. To accompany the visuals, Lil Nas X worked with MSCHF, an art collective with a history of producing shoes that were born to go viral, to create a pair of Satanic sneaks. The sneakers are a distorted version of the Nike Air Max 97, with a gold pentagram hanging from the laces and red ink injected into the shoe’s air bubble – including, notably, a single drop of human blood (alleged) . (Nike was quick to explain that they were not involved in this shoe in any capacity.) Lil Nas X and MSCHF are launching 666 pairs for $ 1,018 a pair. The cost is a reference to the biblical passage Luke 10:18: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” A spokesperson for MSCHF said CNN the blood comes directly from the members of the group.
From one angle, the shoes are just made to accompany the release of Lil Nas X’s new song and video – but from another, they’re also precisely engineered to go viral, irritating the conservative class. After weeks of yelling about Dr Seuss and Cardi B’s “WAP” (again), right-wing commentators have positioned them as the last horseman of the apocalypse. “We promote Satan shoes to wear on our feet”, Conservative commentator Candace Owens wrote on Twitter. “We named Cardi B as Woman of the Year.” Noem, the governor, seemed stuck on shoes marketed as “exclusive” to children across the country. “Do you know what is more exclusive? Their God-given eternal soul, ”she wrote.
The conservative Twitterati weren’t the only ones stacking shoes, either. Former NBA player Nick Young tweeted “My kids will never play at Old Town Road again,” and said he wasn’t sure if he could still wear Nike shoes. (He later apologized for this tweet, and jokingly said it got hacked.) And Trevor Lawrence, the alleged first pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, tweeted in reference to the shoes: “The line has to be drawn somewhere. Smh. “
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