I don’t watch awards shows, so when I woke up to headlines screaming about the “pornographic” and “satanic” performance by Sam Smith and Kim Petras of their hit song “Unholy” during the Grammys, my initial response was that it was probably much ado about nothing. But as the day progressed and the story became unavoidable, I found myself clicking on some links to see just how “satanic” this thing really was.
It’s not. It’s not satanic at all. It’s a big ol’ fat nothing-burger.
I’ll admit, I like the song – it’s ear candy – but the lyrics are stupid and the subject matter is banal at best. It’s about a guy fucking around behind his wife’s back, which is not exactly original material. The imagery used in the performance is what Christians often associate with Satanism on the most superficial level: red lights, red costumes, stage flames, Sam Smith donning a sparkly red top hat with horns. I’m convinced Christians have developed a Pavlovian response to the color red and can’t help but scream “It’s Satanic!” whenever they see it (how the hell do they shop at Target?). This conditioned response is the only way to explain their hysteria over this fun but far from ground-breaking performance by two out-and-proud members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
That’s what the outrage is really about, isn’t it.
The red costumes and the sparkly horned top hat were incidental – the religious right would have been outraged if Smith, who is nonbinary, and Petras, who is a trans woman, had stood motionless on the stage clothed in baggy sweatpants. It is their mere existence that so greatly offends conservative Christians. Smith and Petras are perfect examples of The Satanic Temple’s Tenet III, “One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s will alone.” They have embraced who they are and celebrate it, and they refuse to conform to the puritanical voices that condemn them and work to erase their identity
And that, dear friends, is Satanic.