Sam Smith’s music video for their new track I’m Not Here to Make Friends has earned the wrath of queerphobes and “fatphobes” across social media and in the conservative press.
The video ramps up the song’s sex-positive theme of wanting a no-strings-attached hookup. It sees the non-binary Smith wearing a voluminous pink coat while arriving at an opulent mansion for an over-the-top party.
What seems to have really outraged some people are sequences of the singer wearing a camp corset that unapologetically highlights their body, complete with nipple tassels. They and their backup dancers also erotically frolic amongst jets of water, suggestive, some say, of “golden showers”.
The video’s been called “over-sexualised”, “vulgar”, and “inappropriate”, although it’s actually rather tame compared to what other cisgender and straight performers have put out in recent years.
English media personality and author Christine Hamilton’s rant on Twitter is typical of many of the attacks against the singer.
“I had never heard of #SamSmith and I wish I hadn’t now, but his obscene, debauched pornographic video will be seen by impressionable young children who deserve better role models than him. He should be ashamed of himself seeking publicity in this damaging way,” vented Hamilton.
Critics of the video, however, have been called out for their double standards about what’s appropriate when larger queer and femme-presenting people joyfully express their sexuality.
“If a female artist had done that exact same video, worn the exact same outfits, no one would bat an eyelid. I think the outcry just smacks of this sort of homophobia, queer phobia and transphobia,” drag queen Pixie Polite told the BBC.
“The backlash against Sam Smith is absolutely about people not wanting people to be overtly sexual unless they’re skinny,” commented Twitter user Marcus.
Historian and author Dr Fern Riddell also came to Smith’s defence, writing: “In our increasingly anti-queer and anti-sex society thank god for creatives like Sam Smith and all the kids lives they’ll change just by existing and making art.”
Another Twitter user, gladys, pointed out that Smith had been a favourite of mainstream audiences for as long as his queerness was stripped of any sexual or gender non-binary overtones.
“Wild how Sam Smith was probably one of the most well-loved queer artists by straight people out there for so many years but all it took was a little weight gain and five seconds presenting as anything less than masculine for them to turn into a laughing stock to you people.”
In what could be a response to their critics, Smith posted a picture of themself on Twitter wearing a glamorous feathered Vegas-style creation with the caption, “Never too much.”