Angels of Montero

In Tony Kushner’s Angels of America along with the rapper Lil Nas X’s music video for the song “Montero” there is an elaborate use of camp that connects them. There are two similar moments that share related themes in Angels of America it is in Act. 5 of “Perestroika” between the characters The Angel and Hannah Porter Pitt who is a Mormon woman. With Kushner’s elaborate stage directions he is able to convey exactly what goes on between them, “Hannah walks toward her, torn between immense unfamiliar desire and fear […] The Angel kisses her […] Hannah then has an enormous orgasm” (Kushner 261). In this scene, there is an exaggerated use of sexuality with the imagery that Kusher evokes of an angel having the ability to give a character an orgasm. This same type of flamboyant sexuality and the elaborate use of camp is something that is also implemented by Lil Nas X’s “Montero.” One moment in the music video that has a clear relation to the aforementioned scene in Angels of America is depicted after Lil Nas X’s character is mounted by a figure who is supposed to represent a devil. This is shown when Lil Nas X sings, “Call me by your name,” This lyric is a reference to the gay novel by the author André Aciman where two male lovers spend a summer together in Italy. So the overt sexual moment is underscored by this sentimental saying from one fictional man to another.

Montero had a lot of controversy because of its references to religion and Lil Nas X responded on twitter with the following remark, “y’all love saying we going to hell but get upset when I actually go there lmao” (Lil Nas X). Although what he says here is meant to be humorous there is a serious undercurrent to this and the moment in the music video which is the true nature of homophobia. In the same way that Angels in America uses the seriousness and parody of camp to combat a view of religious homophobia Lil Nas X plays into the fantasy that has been common for homophobic people to come up with. I believe that representations like these that use camp as a significant element are important because they show a unique portrayal of queer people that helps to flesh out the different types of stories that can be told about them. Both of these examples have fun with the extremes they go to while also having an intentional seriousness in responding to queer related issues of AIDS and homophobia which evokes the true meaning of camp.

Lil Nas X Tweet