Satan Shoes were a series of custom Nike Air Max 97 shoes, created in 2021 as a collaboration between American musician Lil Nas X and MSCHF, a Brooklyn, New York art collective. Their design and marketing gained controversy through prominent satanic imagery. Nike, Inc. sued MSCHF for trademark infringement, false designation of origin, trademark dilution, and unfair competition. A settlement was reached in July 2021 which required MSCHF to offer refunds to any buyer who wished to return their shoes.

Promotional image of the Satan Shoes

Design and promotion edit

 
A detail from Jan van Eyck's Crucifixion and Last Judgement diptych (pictured) appears to be present on the shoebox.[1]

Each pair of shoes is black, and features a bronze pentagram on the laces and an inverted cross,[2] while on the sides of the shoes is a reference to the Biblical passage Luke 10:18.[3] MSCHF claims that the shoes are made with "60cc of ink and 1 drop of human blood".[4] According to MSCHF co-founder Daniel Greenberg, the blood came from "about six" MSCHF employees.[5] A detail from Jan van Eyck's Last Judgement appears to be present on the packaging.[1][6]

The shoes were released alongside the music video for Lil Nas X's song "Montero (Call Me by Your Name)", where the rapper can be seen descending into Hell on a stripper pole and giving Satan a lap dance before killing him and presumably becoming the new ruler of Hell. A pair of the shoes can be seen on Satan's feet in the music video.[7] Additionally, only 666 pairs of the shoes were produced, priced at $1,018 each. The shoes sold out in under a minute.[8]

Several publications compared the shoes to a comic book published by Marvel Comics in 1977 based on the rock band Kiss, for which the band members mixed vials of their own blood into the red ink used for printing the books.[9][10][11]

Artistic intent edit

A spokesperson for MSCHF told the New York Times the shoes were works of artistic expression "intended to comment on the absurdity of the collaboration culture practiced by some brands".[12]

Court case edit

Nike contended before federal judge Eric R. Komitee that the Satan Shoes were manufactured without authorization from Nike. Nike's lawyers argued that they have "submitted evidence that even sophisticated sneakerheads were confused" by the shoes. Nike lawyers cited the Rogers test.[13]

Nike released a statement in response to the controversy generated, saying "Nike did not design or release these shoes and we do not endorse them".[14] Additionally, the company initiated a lawsuit against MSCHF, alleging that they had made consumers believe that "Nike is endorsing satanism" and that the shoes and their promotion represented trademark infringement, false designation of origin, trademark dilution, and unfair competition.[15][16][17]

As of April 1, 2021, Nike succeeded in obtaining a restraining order against MSCHF, blocking sales of the Satan Shoes.[18] At the time the restraining order went into effect, all but one pair of the shoes had already been shipped to buyers.[12] By July Nike had accepted a settlement that required MSCHF to offer refunds to any buyer who returned their purchase, as well as to any buyer of a previous "Jesus Shoes" release by MSCHF.[12] At the time of the settlement the shoes were being offered on auction sites for as much as $15,000.[12]

In response to the court case, Lil Nas X later released a prelude video for his next song "Industry Baby", which worked as a spoof of the case, staging a fake "Nike vs. Lil Nas X" trial in the supreme court, during which people discuss the Satan Shoes before condemning the rapper for being gay.[19][20][21]

Reception edit

The shoes were met with disapproval from some sports, entertainment, political and religious figures, including from basketball player Nick Young, Free Chapel pastor Jentezen Franklin, American football quarterback Trevor Lawrence, fellow rapper Joyner Lucas, evangelical pastor Mark Burns, conservative pundit Candace Owens and South Dakota governor Kristi Noem.[22][23] The Church of Satan gave its full approval to the "Montero" music video and the shoes.[24] Lil Nas X told critics via Twitter his agenda was to "make people stay the fuck out of other people’s lives and stop dictating who they should be."[25] The rapper later called out the double standard after skateboarder Tony Hawk's announcement about releasing blood-infused skateboards didn't receive any backlash for the idea.[26]

References edit

  1. ^ a b Dessem, Matthew (March 29, 2021). "Conservatives Are Enraged at Lil Nas X and His "Satan Shoes"". Slate Magazine. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  2. ^ @saint (March 26, 2021). "MSCHF x Lil Nas X "Satan Shoes" Nike Air Max '97 Contains 60cc ink and 1 drop of human blood 666 Pairs, individually numbered $1,018 March 29th, 2021" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  3. ^ Shaffer, Claire (March 29, 2021). "Lil Nas X Releases Unofficial 'Satan' Nikes With Real Human Blood". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  4. ^ MSCHF. "Satan Shoes". Satan Shoes. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  5. ^ Kiefer, Halle (March 29, 2021). "Nike Clarifies It Doesn't Endorse Lil Nas X's Satan Shoes, Now With Human Blood". Vulture. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  6. ^ Holland, Oscar; Palumbo, Jacqui (March 29, 2021). "Lil Nas X's unofficial 'Satan' Nikes containing human blood sell out in under a minute". CNN. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  7. ^ "Nike Sues Designer Behind Lil Nas X's "Satan Shoes"". Stereogum. March 29, 2021. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  8. ^ Akhtar, Allana. "Lil Nas X's 'Satan Shoe' — made with one drop of human blood — sold out in under a minute, bringing in nearly $700,000". Business Insider. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  9. ^ Terry, Josh (March 29, 2021). "Lil Nas X Isn't the First Pop Star to Spark a Satanic Panic". Vice. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  10. ^ Kaye, Chris. "Lil Nas X is courting controversy with his blood-infused kicks, but the rock band KISS actually did it first — in a bloody 1977 collaboration with Marvel Comics". Business Insider. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  11. ^ Thompson, Stephen (April 5, 2021). "The Out-of-Touch Adults' Guide To Kid Culture: Who Is Lil Nas X?". Lifehacker. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  12. ^ a b c d Vigdor, Neil (April 9, 2021). "Company Will Offer Refunds to Buyers of 'Satan Shoes' to Settle Lawsuit by Nike". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 16, 2023.
  13. ^ "Judge blocks Lil Nas X's 'Satan Shoes' from shipping to customers". TheGuardian.com. April 2021.
  14. ^ Mazza, Ed (March 29, 2021). "Lil Nas X Trolls Right-Wingers With Mocking Apology For His New Satan Shoes". HuffPost. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  15. ^ Cullins, Ashley (March 29, 2021). "Nike Sues MSCHF Over Lil Nas X Satan Shoes". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 8, 2021.
  16. ^ "Nike sues over Lil Nas X "Satan Shoes," alleging trademark infringement". CBS News. March 30, 2021. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  17. ^ Robertson, Adi (March 29, 2021). "Nike sues over Lil Nas X's 'unauthorized Satan Shoes'". The Verge. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  18. ^ "Nike gets restraining order against Lil Nas X's "Satan Shoes," blocking all sales". www.cbsnews.com. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  19. ^ "WATCH: Lil Nas X Goes On Trial In Teaser For New Single". iHeartRadio. Retrieved May 26, 2023.
  20. ^ "How Lil Nas X Used 'Satan Shoes' Controversy And A Fake Court Date To Promote His New Single". Forbes. Retrieved May 26, 2023.
  21. ^ "Lil Nas X Sentenced To 5 Years In Prison For Being Gay In New Music Video Teaser". Unilad.
  22. ^ Young, Nick [@nickswagypyoung] (March 28, 2021). "My kids will never play Old Town road again.. I'm still debating about wearing @Nike after this come nike a drop of blood for real" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  23. ^ "Lil Nas X destroys pastor for preaching about 'Satan Nikes' over mass shootings". PinkNews. March 30, 2021. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  24. ^ "Lil Nas X's 'Satan Shoes' Get Approval from Church of Satan". TMZ. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  25. ^ "Nike Is Suing The Maker Of Lil Nas X's Satan Shoes". BuzzFeed News. March 30, 2021. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  26. ^ "Lil Nas X calls out critics of Satan shoes following Tony Hawk blood skateboard announcement". The Independent. August 27, 2021. Retrieved May 26, 2023.