MSCHF Lil Nas X Satan Shoes
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MSCHF and Lil Nas X
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August 19, 2021
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On Queerness, Religion and Satan Shoes: MSCHF Does it Again

​​Before Lil Nas X’s Satan Shoes, we had Jesus Shoes… guess which one made Nike upset? The conceptual art collective MSCHF does not shy away from religious themes. In their recent collaboration with Lil Nas X, they reimagined the classic Nike Air Max 97 and turned it into ‘Satan Shoes’.

Each of the 666 pairs features a pentagram and a quote from the Bible (‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven’ Luke 10:18 ), and contains a drop of human blood.

The shoes were released in time with Lil Nas X’s music video ‘Montero’, in which the singer pole dances his way down to hell. The song is a commentary on the anti-LGBTQ+ stance of the Christian Church and the way queerness is often framed as a sin. As the artist himself tweeted: ‘I spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of the shit y’all preached would happen to me because I was gay’. In the video, Lil Nas X is unapologetically queer and sexual, calling out bigotry through music and art.

Nike decided to sue and block the sale of Satan Shoes, claiming trademark infringement. Interestingly, they had nothing to say two years ago, when the same art collective debuted Jesus Shoes - white Nike shoes containing holy water from the Jordan River. Jesus Shoes got a lot of attention from the media and celebrities, like Drake, which undoubtedly benefited Nike in the long run. So why protest now?

The fierce backlash that Nike received from religious and conservative customers prompted the company to take action this time. This begs the question: is freedom of speech only allowed if it pleases a certain religious group? What makes Jesus shoes acceptable and Satan Shoes unacceptable? MSCHF defended their newest creation by pointing out that ‘Satan is as much part of the art historical canon as Jesus’.

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