Nike Sues Over Those Satan Shoes, and Lil Nas X Wins in the End

Lil Nas X back stage at the MTV Video Music Awards 2019. (Wikipedia CC-BY SA 4.0)

If you approach the appalling story of the Satan Shoes from the point of view that there is no such thing as bad publicity, it all makes sense.

Over the weekend the world learned that a black-and-red Satan shoe is hitting the market. The limited-edition Nike Air would have a drop of human blood in it, a pentagram, and would look very much as if it was intended to worship Old Scratch himself.

Social media rage and boycotts of Nike sprung up, along with dark humor about accusations that the company benefits from slave labor in China. One of those jokes noted that, given the China connection, Nike shoes already have human blood in them — why add another drop for this one edition?

Then there was the obvious connection made between Nike canceling its Betsy Ross shoe in 2019, but now happily selling Beelzebub. That didn’t make a lot of sense. Many Americans will buy shoes with the old American flag on it; far fewer would actually be willing to don Diabolus.

It turns out rapper Lil Nas X created the Satan Shoes, of which there will only be 666 sold for more than a grand apiece.

It further turns out that the tyrant of Hell’s training shoe is being made by a company, MSCHF, that specializes in viral products for the purpose of generating buzz. It made a Jesus Shoe a few years back, that had holy water in every sole. They’re right in line with corporate America: Anything goes in the pursuit of another buck.

It further turns out that Lil Nas X has a new song and video out in which he lap dances the Devil.

He wanted to top death metal, or something. They’ve been doing that sort of thing since the 1980s. KISS and Alice Cooper (who is now an outspoken Christian) publicly flirted with Satanism before that. Ozzy Osbourne bit the head off a live bat on stage, allegedly.

Doing that now would invite the wrath of Fauci.

The Satan Shoe all adds up to a big publicity stunt to sell streams and downloads.

Publicity of whatever kind or quality has focused a great deal of attention on Lil Nas X. Rather than fall from the sky like lightning, he topped 14 million downloads on YouTube and shot up like the morning star to #1 on Spotify.

A generation ago, Madonna needed a hit and burned crosses in her controversial video for “Like a Prayer.” She went to number one. These days Madge has to be content with admitting she’d like to blow up the White House (which sounds awfully violent and insurrectionist, if conventional for today’s Hollywood) if the occupant isn’t one she voted for.

One hopes she does not find a way to top Lil Nas X. Someone will.

Anyway, Nike is suing over the archfiend’s arch supports, claiming that they’re causing the shoe giant some big trademark problems.

Nike filed the suit — Lil Nas X was not named as a defendant — after many people said they believed it was involved with the shoes, even though it released a statement over the weekend saying it had nothing to do them.

The lawsuit argues that Nike must maintain control over its brand “by setting the record straight” about what products bear its distinctive “swoosh” logo.

“In fact, there is already evidence of significant confusion and dilution occurring in the marketplace, including calls to boycott Nike in response to the launch of MSCHF’s Satan Shoes based on the mistaken belief that Nike has authorized or approved this product,” the lawsuit says.

Everybody wins! Lucifer’s loafers already sold out. MSCHF and Lil Nas X went viral. Nike gets to play the good guy for once and distance itself from an appalling product.

Decency doesn’t win, but that’s been on a long losing streak for a while now.

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