The similarities were pointed out almost immediately upon the release of “Montero” last week, with fans noting not just the heavy use of pole dancing in both, but also a sequence in which both appear to fall from the sky. As it turns out, Lil Nas X even collaborated with the same choreographer, Kelly Von, who worked with FKA Twigs on “Cellophane.”
On Sunday, March 28th, “Cellophane” director Andrew Huang addressed the similarities in a Twitter thread. He called himself a fan of Lil Nas X and expressed his appreciation for the video and its choreography (“love a Satan dance,” he wrote), but also touched on how “sharing aesthetics and paying homage” can go from a natural part of the creative process to something more harmful.
I'm a fan of @LilNasX. "Old Town Road" is iconic. 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.
— Andrew Thomas Huang (@Andrew_T_Huang) March 28, 2021
“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,” Huang said. “Intentional or not, copying other artists’ work happens. 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. I urge the music community, particularly major record labels like [Lil Nas X’s label] @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.”
On Tuesday night, March 30th, Lil Nas X addressed the controversy on Instagram, calling “Cellophane” a “visual masterpiece” and claiming he “was not aware that [Twigs’] visual would serve as inspiration for those who worked on the effects of my video.” He added that he’d spoken with Twigs about the similarities, stating: “I was not aware they were so close. Was only excited for the video to come out. I understand how hard you worked to bring this visual to life. You deserve so much more love and praise.”
Twigs also shared a post on Instagram, thanking Lil Nas X for their “gentle honest conversations and for acknowledging the inspiration ‘Cellophane’ gave you and your creative team in creating your iconic video!” Twigs voiced her support for Lil Nas X’s “expression and bravery in pushing culture forward for the queer community,” while also thanking “sex workers and strippers for providing the physical language to make both videos possible.” Twigs ended her note by encouraging people to donate to Swarm, an organization supporting sex workers and fighting against the criminalization of their work.