Promonews - 30th Mar 2021

Director Andrew Thomas Huang has taken to social media to bring attention what he feels is the copying of segments of his award-winning video for FKA Twigs's Cellophane in the just-released video for Lil Nas X's Montero (Call Me By Your Name).

His reaction follows the release of the big budget VFX-heavy Lil Nas X video, directed by Tanu Muino, on March 26th. Following the release, Huang posted a side-by-side of both videos on TikTok, drawing attention to the similarity between the sequences in both videos, captioning it with “@lilnasx take me off your mood board or hire me.”

The Montero video includes a section of the video where Lil Nas X is in a painterly sky scene featuring a winged human figure, then descends down a pole, while executing poledance moves to the ground where he encounters a Satanic figure. In Huang's video for Cellophane, Twigs poledances on a pole, then rises up to confront a winged person in painterly clouds above. After a confrontation Twigs plummets back to the ground, into a subterranean pit. 

Huang followed up with an Instagram Story with side-by-side screengrabs from the two videos, adding: "There's no winning when this happens. Been copied before but this feels different. Lil Nas X's label contacted me end of last year. Pivoted away then hired the same choreographer from 'Cellophane.'"

Adding the tags of the artist, director and label Columbia Records, Huang added: "Consider the power you wield and the artists you harm when you capitalize on our blood, sweat, tears, and emotional labor."

Huang then expanded his thoughts on the matter in a Twitter thread on March 28th, beginning by expressing support for Lil Nas X: “I’m a fan of @LilNasX. ‘Old Town Road’ is iconic.” 

He continued: “Sharing collaborators is common. Seeing the ‘Cellophane’ choreographer collab with Lil Nas X is awesome (love a Satan dance). Sharing aesthetics and paying homage is part of the creative process. Collective consciousness exists.”

He went on to say: “Years of work went into the creation of ‘Cellophane’, from physical training to the emotional labor of unpacking Twigs’ life to construct images told her story of trauma and recovery. ‘Cellophane’ was a confession in the most vulnerable sense.

“When an artist is in a position of power (amplified with the help of major record labels, social media, PR, etc) and repurposes someone’s labor and ideas to serve their brand image, they cause harm by displacing the efforts of the artists who did the original leg work.

“Intentional or not, copying other artists’ work happens,” Huang continued. “Making music videos is a labor of love. The demand for content pushed by major labels renders our work disposable and pits artists against each other.”

Huang then pointed out that he was referring to “major record labels run by white male executives”, saying they “pit women and QBIPOC creators against each other." He finished on Twitter by saying: “I urge the music community, particularly major record labels like @ColumbiaRecords to respect directors, uphold artistic accountability and honor the ingenuity of artists dedicating their blood sweat and tears to imagine better futures amidst a broken industry. We can do better.”

At the time of writing, there had been comment made by the artist, director or label involved in making the Montero video, with regard to Huang's comments.

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    Promonews - 30th Mar 2021

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