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Creep of the Week: South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem

To create the right kind of atmosphere in order to write this I have all the lights off and am using a black background instead of a white one on my computer. I’m also burning a candle and listening to heavy metal.

Mind you, I have the lights off because it’s 2 p.m. and I’m burning the candle because I made vegan mac and cheese for lunch and my wife hates the smell. The candle is called “Holiday Sparkle” and supposedly smells like “Bright Sparkling Water, Sugared Citrus, Wintertime Jasmine and Creamy Sandalwood,” but it really just smells like someone accidentally knocked into a perfume counter at Macy’s and a random collection of bottles smashed onto the floor. Also, heavy metal is legit my favorite kind of music, so I’d be listening to it regardless.

Still, let’s pretend I’m opening myself up for Satanic possession or something. It freaks out the Christian right and that’s fun as hell.

Because it’s time to talk about Lil Nas X and the video for his song “Montero (Call Me by Your Name).”

As I mentioned, I mostly listen to metal, so I have not closely followed Lil Nas X’s career. All I know is that “Old Town Road” is very catchy and that Lil Nas X is really fun to follow on Twitter. Oh, and he’s gay.

But even I, a middle-aged lesbian listening to Iron Maiden in the light of day, have heard about the recent controversy surrounding Lil Nas X’s dance with the devil. In his video for “Montero (Call Me by Your Name),” a song about sex, he slides down a stripper pole into the depths of hell where he gives Satan a lap dance. To commemorate this feat, he commissioned a design company to customize 666 pairs of Nike Air Max 97s with pentagrams and upside down crosses in order to create “Satan Shoes,” which sold out almost immediately to the tune of a grand a pair. But don’t worry, you can buy them for thousands of dollars on eBay.

This got some people real mad. Nike, for example, has filed a lawsuit since they didn’t give the Satan Shoes their blessing. And then there’s the negative reaction of South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who you know has gotten tipsy and danced to “Old Town Road” at a wedding reception and has given her complete refusal to issue any kind of restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19 in South Dakota.

Retweeting a photo of the shoes Noem wrote, “Our kids are being told that this kind of product is, not only okay, it’s ‘exclusive.’ But do you know what’s more exclusive? Their God-given eternal soul. We are in a fight for the soul of our nation. We need to fight hard. And we need to fight smart. We have to win.”

First of all, if a product is limited, numbered and pricey, it is literally exclusive. You don’t have to like, want, or approve of the thing being sold. These shoes are essentially works of art.

Secondly, these shoes are not stealing anybody’s soul. They’re shoes. And Satan is pretend.

Perhaps Noem came down hard on Satan Shoes because conservatives are mad at her for not being mean enough to transgender people.

Like many states, South Dakota has passed legislation to keep transgender women and girls from playing sports, a solution looking for a problem as there is no huge influx of transgender athletes dominating women’s sports. When the legislation reached her desk she sent it back asking for some tweaks, which now has her critics claiming that she caved to the transgender agenda.

But who cares what they say or what I say, for that matter. Because Lil Nas X’s response to Noem is perfection: “ur a whole governor and u on here tweeting about some damn shoes. do ur job!”

Yeah! Except she is very terrible at her job. You’d think that someone whose refusal to act in any way to protect the people in her state from a deadly epidemic led to hundreds of unnecessary deaths would appreciate a little constructive criticism from someone who is actually really good at his job.

But instead of “thank you” she responded with a Bible quote: “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?  -Matthew 16:26”

A good question! Especially for a governor who sat on her hands while people died but managed to get real fired up over an art piece sold by a Black gay man. One could even argue that she forfeited the souls of innocent people in order to score political points with extremists.

Thankfully, she doesn’t have the whole world, just South Dakota. But we are in a fight for the soul of our nation. We need to fight hard. And we need to fight smart. We have to win. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some eBaying to do because it’s never too early to do Christmas shopping.


D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBTQ politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.