The Christian Right is in a tailspin after the Grammy awards—not because they feel that Beyoncé was robbed of album of the year, but because they think that the event organizers, in conjunction with Pfizer, were trying to summon the antichrist.
Sam Smith and Kim Petras gave a fiery performance of their Grammy award winning single “Unholy.” Smith wore red leather, while Petras danced in a cage surrounded by flames. Dominatrix-esque dancers wearing horns and holding riding crops surrounded them. And at the end, Smith donned on a top hat replete with devil horns, and danced with a cane.
“The Grammy’s featured Sam Smith’s demonic performance and was sponsored by Pfizer,” tweeted far-right congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who routinely peddles conspiracy theories. “American Christians need to get to work.”
“Satanic panic” conspiracies have seen a resurgence in the past decade, thanks to the rise of QAnon, which borrowed many decades-old themes and fears of secret, powerful Satanic cabals preying on children’s innocence.
Satanic panic has also seeped into mainstream Christian nationalism in the U.S. The movement deems any cultural or political institutions that don’t reflect evangelical Christian values as “satanic” or “anti-Christ.” This has included everything from school kids learning about LGBTQ issues, to vaccines, to drag queens.
For many right-wing conservatives watching, this year’s Grammy’s offered an unholy alliance of everything they hate. Firstly, Pfizer—the pharmaceutical company that came out with the first COVID-19 vaccine—was among this year’s event sponsors. Then there was Smith, who’s been targeted by culture warriors since coming out as gender queer in 2019. Smith has since celebrated their identity with playful, flamboyant fashion. In a recent sexy music video, they wore everything pink, fluffy gowns and daring, burlesque-style outfits and was accused of “normalizing pornography.”
Earlier in the evening on Sunday, Smith and Petras also won the award for “best pop duo.” Petras, who accepted the award, made Grammy history by becoming the first transgender woman to win an award.
So when the devil horns and flames came out, the Right became apoplectic.
Turning Point USA founder and conservative influencer Charlie Kirk went on a multi-part tweet storm, in which he attempted to draw a connection between the satanic themes in Smith and Petra’s performance, and the fact that Pfizerwas among this year’s sponsors of the Grammy’s. Kirk also posted a screenshot of the performance, with the caption “definitely not a spiritual war.”
And The Post Millennial, a right-wing outlet, wrote:” BREAKING: Sam Smith stages SATANIC Grammy performance with strippers, devil horns.”
Right-wing commentator Liz Wheeler also weighed in. “Don’t fight the culture wars, they say,” she wrote on Twitter. “Meanwhile demons are teaching your kids to worship Satan. I could throw up.”
Petras and Smith are far from the first musical act to incorporate religious or satanic themes in their performances. Even Madonna, whom Petras thanked in her acceptance speech, has previously been accused of hiding secret Satanic messaging in her songs—in particular, the music video for “Like a Prayer.”
Following Smith and Petras’ performance, host Trevor Noah, seemingly anticipating the backlash, pretended to receive a phone call from his mother. “No, mom, it wasn’t the actual devil,” he said in the pretend phone call. “Yeah, you did warn me about Hollywood.”
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