The Student Newspaper of Oxford Academy

The Gamut

The Gamut

The Gamut

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Artists abuse creative freedom with religion

Vanessa Marin-Ixlan

A dark trend has emerged in the music industry: Religion is deemed an “aesthetic” and has lost its spiritual foundation in return for offensive mockery. Artists following the trend are increasingly exploiting the concept of religion to build their own brand without considering the massive disrespect brought to religious communities. 

Recent controversy stems from Lil Nas X, a young rapper and singer notorious for his lewd and often biblically themed style. The artist’s newest single, released on Jan. 12th, “J Christ,” has a cover displaying himself lying on a cross, imitating the Catholic crucifix. His music video follows suit in controversial depictions reenacting biblical events, and comparing himself to those figures. 

This parallel mimics the treasured biblical story of Christ’s rebirth and morphs it into an announcement of the artist’s return to the industry. Sacred religious stories and beliefs should not be recreated, as it disparages Christian beliefs and perpetuates the growing belief that celebrities are divine beings.

The “J Christ” cover and music video mirrors Lil Nas X’s past visual displays, such as the “MONTERO” music video from 2021, which follows Lil Nas X from the Garden of Eden to a vulgar scene in hell. Although the artist claims to use Jesus’s image to alleviate the weight of his past negative religious experiences, the display comes off as insensitive and insulting to the cross’s true significance for many Christians.

The artist’s defense seems especially ingenious as he has a history of including satanic symbols in his branding, particularly a pair of Nike shoes coined “Satan Shoes,” riddled with anti-Christian emblems such as “the devil’s number” and an inverted cross. Lil Nas X references a verse of scripture on the shoes, which when paired with the satanic messaging, is a clear ridicule of Christianity. Incorporating religious symbols into fashion pieces for the simplistic motive of upholding a trendy public image makes Christianity appear as a “style” rather than a meaningful part of one’s identity.

Other popular artists have also followed similar trends with questionable Christian presentation, such as Sabrina Carpenter filming segments of the music video for her pop hit “Feather” portraying a Catholic Church as a graveyard. Singers Doja Cat and Sam Smith have also adopted satanic centered imagery, a concept dating back several decades with artists such as Madonna and the rock band Nine Inch Nails.

The music industry is a vast place for self-expression, and although the creative freedom of artists is crucial to their craft, this should not be at the expense of religions and their followers. To prioritize art over respect is unethical, and creates a poor portrayal of artists rather than the “stylistic” image they desired. 

The growing trend of public religious mockery reflects negatively on the artists that create such music and the industry that allows it. Blatant disrespect for spiritual beliefs only fosters disharmony and tension, and encourages people to repel themself from the industry.

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About the Contributors
Jimena Beltran
Jimena Beltran, Staff Writer
Junior Jimena Beltran is beginning her first year in Gamut as a staff writer. After going to GamSlam, The Gamut’s annual slam poetry event, Jimena was instantly enamored by it — inspiring her to join The Gamut to help plan the event and share her opinions in her writing. In addition to exploring her writing skills through The Gamut this year, Jimena is also Co-Vice President of The Film Society and plans to actively volunteer with Key Club. With an eclectic range of interests — from her passion for theology, looking into the meaning in text and greater truths about humanity and history, to various hobbies that can last for weeks or even just days — Jimena is ready to take on the world, or perhaps just Gamut for the time being. Beyond Oxford, Jimena’s aspirations range from trying out as a mailman, at least once, to buying her very own yacht. For now, checking the lottery numbers everyday — even though she can’t play — and checking yacht websites to scout out the best deals (that she can’t purchase just yet) will have to suffice.
Vanessa Marin-Ixlan
Vanessa Marin-Ixlan, Staff Artist
A new part of Gamut’s staff this year, Vanessa Marin-Ixlan is currently a junior that is excited to take on her role as an illustrator. Vanessa joined the school’s newspaper to experience a more professional work environment and work with other talented illustrators. She has loved drawing ever since she was a kid, starting off with sketches of magical dragons and later making her way into comics. Full of creativity and expression, Vanessa’s dream is to become a comic artist and create her own comic books in the future, so she is truly ecstatic to see her illustrations being printed on paper. Along with drawing, Vanessa enjoys theology, poetry, biology, and animals. She can often be found going on walks or lounging and reading scientific papers. Excited for the year ahead of her, Vanessa is looking forward to getting to know her fellow staff members and meeting people that have similar interests to her.
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