Moral Panic Is Back With a Vengeance
New York magazine|April 12-25, 2021
Lil Nas X’s “Montero” is the latest song to raise the hackles of conservative commentators—and everyone has a little something to gain from the controversy.
Craig Jenkins

POP STARS ARE NOT babysitters. Pop music is not wholesome entertainment. If you play mainstream music expecting to have your values affirmed, you will inevitably be disappointed. Pop stars (at least the good ones) push against the boundaries of what’s possible and acceptable, sometimes in the noble interest of challenging prevailing social mores, sometimes just for the devilish thrill of crossing lines, and sometimes because they can’t help it. These people aren’t paragons of justice. Their job is to reflect on their lives and sing about what they have learned. Sometimes those reflections align with our own experiences and we connect with the music on a visceral level; you could argue that the best stars working in any era have a sense for what’s culturally prescient that keeps them in the conversation.

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