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The Backlash Against Sam Smith's New Video Isn't Surprising, Just Stupid

The Backlash Against Sam Smith's New Video Isn't Surprising, Just Stupid

Sam Smith
Sam Smith/YouTube

Smith is living their best life, and some people simply cannot handle that.

rachelkiley

Sam Smith released their latest music video last week — a celebration of queer, genderbending decadence — and the repressed bigots absolutely can’t stand it.

“I’m Not Here To Make Friends” features Smith leaning further into a decidedly queer aesthetic than has traditionally been seen as their style, and it’s truly a wondrous thing to behold. Flaunting pink ruffles and nipple tassels, dancing with barely-clothed femmes, and sparkling on a swinging chandelier are all memorable moments — but what really sticks out is how joyful and comfortable with this self-exploration Smith appears to be as they sing about looking for a lover.

But as usual, there seems to be little conservatives are more threatened by than queer people blurring gender lines and appearing comfortable in their own skin while doing so. As such, Smith’s video is already receiving blowback from people acting like it’s full-on pornography targeting hapless children in the midst of Saturday morning cartoons.

“The point is that teenagers and young people are the audience who are watching these things and it doesn’t come with a block. They are fully available on YouTube and TikTok,” journalist Alex Phillips said on Good Morning Britain. “It is the overt sexualization, the S&M aspect, it is what would be considered extreme hardcore pornography being symbolically represented in various acts in this video and the audience for that being young people.”

There are absolutely moments of sexualization in Smith’s video — hardly anything that could be referred to as “hardcore pornography” in any serious manner — but nothing that hasn’t been present in (heteronormative) music videos for at least the last two or three decades.

While Phillips insists her criticisms have nothing to do with “how Sam Smith dresses or their pronouns,” it’s difficult not to see this as yet another manifestation of the conservative inclination to conflate bucking gender norms with sexualization, though the two have very little to do with one another. The kind of backlash Smith’s video is receiving is simply almost unheard of with similar videos that stick to heterosexual and gender binary norms.

Moreover, why should artists be responsible for what children watch on TikTok? Assuming teens are even the target audience in the first place feels like quite the leap, but putting the onus on artists to only make art that is appropriate for everyone so parents don’t have to parent is unhinged behavior.

Fortunately, Smith doesn’t seem to be listening to the haters — nor should they. A celebration of queer joy isn’t something created to be palatable to the judgmental masses. If they don’t like it, they should try something novel: accept that it’s not for them, and move on.

Who is Sam Smith in a relationship with?

Smith is not currently in a relationship that the public is aware of.

How old is Sam Smith?

Smith was born May 19, 1992.

What James Bond movie did Sam Smith do?

Smith wrote a song called "Writing's On The Wall" that was used as the theme in the 2015 James Bond film Spectre.

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Rachel Kiley

Rachel Kiley is presumably a writer and definitely not a terminator. She can usually be found crying over queerbaiting in the Pitch Perfect franchise or on Twitter, if not both.

Rachel Kiley is presumably a writer and definitely not a terminator. She can usually be found crying over queerbaiting in the Pitch Perfect franchise or on Twitter, if not both.