Burn That Devil Top Hat, Immediately

Conservative Twitter mouthpieces spent last night tightening their arthritis braces and clacking away at their phone screens for hours, following Sam Smith’s three-minute performance at the Grammys. Smith and fellow queer pop sensation Kim Petras joined forces on music’s biggest stage to perform their hit song “Unholy,” amidst waves of pyrotechnics and dancers clad in entirely red outfits with long, black wigs.

The number was a clear attempt to generate a little buzz by harkening back to a time when pop stars were actually inflammatory, not just playing dress-up with different aesthetics. Madonna—one such legitimately provocative artist—said as much when she introduced the performance: “Are you ready for a little controversy?”

Apparently, some people were indeed ready for a Sam Smith squabble!

“Demons are teaching your kids to worship Satan,” conservative podcaster Liz Wheeler tweeted after the performance. “I could throw up.” Meanwhile, the performance itself was about as blasphemous as a case of the church giggles. It was all show, with no story or clear concept. In fact, the most offensive thing about Smith’s brief tenure on stage was something that most people seem to be overlooking: their god-awfully ugly hat.

After Petras performed her verse—the sole, marginally listenable part of “Unholy”—the telecast cameras cut back to Smith at center stage, now donning a red top hat with devil horns on it. It is perhaps one of the ugliest things I’ve ever seen a pop star wear, and I was there when Kesha was still braiding feathers into her hair, so that’s saying something. Meanwhile, Twitter was buzzing before the ceremony even began, with users calling the (cute!) jumpsuit Harry Styles wore on the red carpet a “clown costume.” And to that I say, I see your Ringling Brothers circus jumpsuit and raise you Sam Smith looking like a Super Mario villain.

It’s not that I don’t understand the purpose of the hat within the performance’s flimsy context. It’s just that it’s so damn hideous that it doesn’t matter. The hat interferes with Smith’s undeniable vocal talent! When I see that hat come out, everything else around it goes black. I can only make out the blurry silhouette of a ridiculous top hat with devil horns.

Not one person has ever looked good in a top hat, and certainly not one worn smack-diddly-doo atop their noggin. Even Marlene Dietrich had the good sense to tilt that shit 45 degrees! I’m unsure as to why Sam Smith thinks that adding some corny, Halloweeny iconography to their look is going to be the thing that really ties it all together.

If this was the first time we had seen this hat, I could forgive the faux pas. Hell, I could even let them off with a warning if it were the second. But this is the third time I’ve had to bear witness to a version of this millinery monstrosity. And my patience is wearing thin! This ghastly chapeau is just the latest entry into Sam Smith’s canon of public-facing style that’s beginning to verge on the Billy Porter-ian. Smith and Porter both seem to enjoy the sensation of raiding a high school drama department’s costume collection and throwing on whatever they can find for an appearance. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it does not.

I feel I should note here that, when it comes to Smith’s personal style, I actually enjoy most of their outfit choices. Their Instagram account is awash in things that I would absolutely wear myself, and I have so much respect for their bravery when it comes to dressing. It’s not easy, by any means, to be a queer person and step out in whatever you want.

And I’ll even give some credence to the abhorrent top hat for being a non-gendered accessory. It’s not the typically hetero-male backward cap, and it doesn’t have the soft-yet-fluid femininity of something like a beret. Hats are hats; they should be free of a rigid and outdated perception of gender. But unfortunately, that’s not necessarily how it works. And the result that Smith has given us, while seemingly trying to find a middle ground, is the worst of both worlds.

Smith’s Grammy outfit was the latest topic in the weeks of debate over their fashion choices. I have no interest in contributing to the reductive and useless diatribe that has been permeating the cultural conversation when it comes to Smith’s style. Their most recent music video, for their new song “I’m Not Here to Make Friends,” has sparked debate over Smith’s choice to wear a corset that leaves their chest uncovered. Anyone looking to police someone else’s body won’t find an ally here. If you’re concerned about that, you’ve got much more pressing issues to address than the devil-horned top hat.

However, I will do all I can to fight against this hellish helmet. If I never see the horned top hat again, it will still be too soon. If I had to guess, I’d say that the conceit behind Smith and Petras’ Grammy performance was to allude to conservative media’s damning of their respective queer identities as demonic—“unholy,” if you will. If that’s the case, the actual execution was severely lacking in the proper visual and aesthetic cohesion to pull that off. But hey, I guess that in the end, it still did the job.

Smith managed to piss people off with even the most lacking of sartorial taste. Leave it to the right-wing “spokespeople” and their legions of followers who spent $8 on Twitter Blue verified checkmarks to be baited by Party City couture.

#Burn #Devil #Top #Hat #Immediately

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