Sam Smith set Twitter ablaze over the weekend after releasing a music video featuring hyper-sexualized scenes, including the British singer-songwriter wearing nipple clasps while having liquid blasted in their face.
Smith, who identifies as non-binary and used “they/them” pronouns, released a new album titled “Gloria” on Friday. The new music video for the album single “I’m Not Here to Make Friends” was released that night.
In one scene, Smith is undressed down to a glittery corset and underwear complete with nipple pasties and a tiara. Back up talent dances around the singer in similar attire, with the addition of pants with the back cut-out in the shape of a heart. Smith squats over the dancers planking on the ground and pats their behinds.
Shortly thereafter, clear liquid begins shooting out of the walls soaking the dancers and the singer. Smith at one point sticks his tongue out and begins drinking the fluid.
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Another scene shows dancers in leather underwear and BDSM gear moving suggestively along a row of beds, contorting themselves into flexible positions and rolling their bodies atop one another.
The scenes sparked intense debate online, with some praising Smith for their confidence and others condemning the sexual material. Some called for an overhaul to age restrictions on music videos.
Political commentator and broadcaster Dominique Samuels slammed Smith over the video and claimed the artist is a “perfect example” of what “degenerate Hollywood culture” can do to people.
“It makes celebrities vulgar, hyper-sexualized and obsessed with wearing their sexuality like a costume and shoving it in everyone’s face,” she said. “And to make matters worse, kids look up to this man!”
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Many others also slammed the content.
However, a large swathe of Twitter users also defended Smith and the music video.
Music presenter and DJ Jordan-Lee said he had no time for the “nonsense” conversation surrounding Smith and said there was “no issue” with the content.
The conversation about the new music video even made it onto the news, with a discussion on ITV’s Good Morning Britain Today. During the segment, journalist Alex Philips said the music video was “unhealthy” for society and contributed to a culture in which pornography is normalized.
“I don’t think it is a coincidence that the reporting of things like sexual assaults and sexual attacks, relationships falling apart, the swipe left and swipe right generation,” Philips said. “It is bad, it is unhealthy, it is not good for society, and this is a symptom of it,” he said.
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Non-binary radio host Shivani Dave pushed back and defended Smith, asserting that biological female pop stars would not have received the same criticism for the music video.
“Miley Cyrus has done this, Nicki Minaj has done this, – so many people have done this. What I think the difference here is that Sam Smith was assigned male at birth, and we are not used to seeing people who are assigned male at birth dancing around in lingerie and corsets and things like that,” Dave said.