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Pop Culture

The far-right is calling this viral Grammy performance 'Satanic.' Don't fall for it.

Sam Smith and Kim Petras' performance of "Unholy" left some calling it a satanic ritual.

grammys, sam smith, devil
K.G/Youtube

Sam Smith and Kim Petras performing "Unholy" at the Grammy Awards.

Depending on which corners of social media you call home, few happenings from the 2023 Grammy awards were as divisive as Sam Smith and Kim Petras’ performance of the song “Unholy.” Was it a historic moment of inclusion or a historic display of a Satanic ritual broadcast to the world?

On the one hand, the pair made music history. After winning the Grammy Award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, Smith became the first non-binary artist to win the category, along with Petra who became the first trans woman to win the category.

However, not everyone was a fan of their live hell-themed performance, featuring Smith clad in red leather and sporting a top hat with devil horns and Petras dancing in a cage surrounded by dominatrixes.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz took to Twitter to call the act “evil,” and his fury was quickly echoed by other conservative influencers who declared it an example of mainstream devil worship.

“Don’t fight the culture wars, they say. Meanwhile demons are teaching your kids to worship Satan. I could throw up.” wrote conservative political commentator Liz Wheeler.

However, it doesn’t take a lot of research to find out what the artist’s original intentions were behind the song.


In a previous interview with NME, Smith shared that the song was about “liberating oneself from the clutches of others’ secrets.” The song’s lyrics explicitly suggest that the story is about adultery, and touches on the way certain taboo desires are viewed as sins and therefore kept hidden or repressed. For such a large portion of history, this has been a harsh reality of the LGBTQ experience, which makes the theme seem like a creative no-brainer rather than a literal endorsement for satanic worship.

Petras also responded to backlash over the song, telling Variety that the performance was inspired by not feeling accepted by mainstream religion as a trans person.

“I personally grew up wondering about religion and wanting to be a part of it but slowly realizing it didn’t want me to be a part of it. So it’s a take on not being able to choose religion. And not being able to live the way that people might want you to live, because as a trans person I’m already not kind of wanted in religion,” she said.

Taking it from the song creators themselves, it seems the message really being put out is that of acceptance. Or at least paving your own way when acceptance doesn’t come.

Watch the video below:

All images provided by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

Collins after being selected by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

True

A changemaker is anyone who takes creative action to solve an ongoing problem—be it in one’s own community or throughout the world.

And when it comes to creating positive change, enthusiasm and a fresh perspective can hold just as much power as years of experience. That’s why, every year, Prudential Emerging Visionaries celebrates young people for their innovative solutions to financial and societal challenges in their communities.

This national program awards 25 young leaders (ages 14-18) up to $15,000 to devote to their passion projects. Additionally, winners receive a trip to Prudential’s headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, where they receive coaching, skills development, and networking opportunities with mentors to help take their innovative solutions to the next level.

For 18-year-old Sydnie Collins, one of the 2023 winners, this meant being able to take her podcast, “Perfect Timing,” to the next level.

Since 2020, the Maryland-based teen has provided a safe platform that promotes youth positivity by giving young people the space to celebrate their achievements and combat mental health stigmas. The idea came during the height of Covid-19, when Collins recalled social media “becoming a dark space flooded with news,” which greatly affected her own anxiety and depression.

Knowing that she couldn’t be the only one feeling this way, “Perfect Timing” seemed like a valuable way to give back to her community. Over the course of 109 episodes, Collins has interviewed a wide range of guests—from other young influencers to celebrities, from innovators to nonprofit leaders—all to remind Gen Z that “their dreams are tangible.”

That mission statement has since evolved beyond creating inspiring content and has expanded to hosting events and speaking publicly at summits and workshops. One of Collins’ favorite moments so far has been raising $7,000 to take 200 underserved girls to see “The Little Mermaid” on its opening weekend, to “let them know they are enough” and that there’s an “older sister” in their corner.

Of course, as with most new projects, funding for “Perfect Timing” has come entirely out of Collins’ pocket. Thankfully, the funding she earned from being selected as a Prudential Emerging Visionary is going toward upgraded recording equipment, the support of expert producers, and skill-building classes to help her become a better host and public speaker. She’ll even be able to lease an office space that allows for a live audience.

Plus, after meeting with the 24 other Prudential Emerging Visionaries and her Prudential employee coach, who is helping her develop specific action steps to connect with her target audience, Collins has more confidence in a “grander path” for her work.

“I learned that my network could extend to multiple spaces beyond my realm of podcasting and journalism when industry leaders are willing to share their expertise, time, and financial support,” she told Upworthy. “It only takes one person to change, and two people to expand that change.”

Prudential Emerging Visionaries is currently seeking applicants for 2024. Winners may receive up to $15,000 in awards and an all-expenses-paid trip to Prudential’s headquarters with a parent or guardian, as well as ongoing coaching and skills development to grow their projects.

If you or someone you know between the ages of 14 -18 not only displays a bold vision for the future but is taking action to bring that vision to life, click here to learn more. Applications are due by Nov. 2, 2023.
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Are AP kids as insufferable as they seem? Not according to Ms. C.

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High school might look very different now than how it once did, but this rite of passage is still very much alive and well. Just ask Ms. C, who goes by the handle @stillateacher on TikTok.

Ms. C recently went viral for sharing a look at high school cliques from her perspective as a teacher, honing in on what she liked about teaching each clique. Her observations illuminate not only that yes, cliques persist (and with them their inherent problems) but that there’s something genuine, sweet and loveable about each one.

First on deck—the goth kids, primarily because Ms. C admits to being scared of them when she was a kid. But now, after actually connecting with a few, she insists that underneath those dark and gloomy exteriors lies genuine kindness.

“A common interaction between me and a goth kid is throughout class, they're just kind of like giving me a death glare…And then after class, they just like linger around by my desk and I'm like, ‘Hey, what's up?’ And they'll just like lightly knock over something on my desk and be like, ‘You're a really good teacher. This is my favorite class.’ and then just walk out,” she says in the clip.

So yeah, goth kids are just like cats. Misunderstood in the way they show love.

@stillateacher Something loveable about every clique #teacher #teachersoftiktok #teachertok #highschool #clique ♬ original sound - Ms. C

On the opposite side of the spectrum, Ms. C tackles theater kids next. Sure, this group has a big personality (perhaps too big for some), but Ms. C appreciates their brazen self-assurance.

“They reeeeealllly don’t care what anyone thinks,” she says, explaining that while other students add well-known pop singers to her class playlist, theater kids will shamelessly put in their favorite show tunes. Why? Because it’s “the best musical of all time!” Duh.

Plus, Ms. C commends their “really strong literacy skills from reading and memorizing all of these plays.”

For jocks, there are actually sub-cliques within the group “depending on which sport you play.” But despite each sport team having different personalities, Ms. C notes that a supportive coach makes all the difference.

“I've literally before picked up my phone and called the coach and then like be like, ‘So and so is having a tough day,’ and they come and talk to them in the hallway and the student is like immediately changed, inspired, transformed,” she says.

And while she admits that the teacher/jock relationship is often portrayed as contentious, she can’t help but commend jocks for their passion and commitment.

“A lot of the kids are just like die-hard for whatever sport they play. That keeps them coming to school consistently. It keeps them having something to do,” she says.

After her initial post received over 800,000 views, Ms. C began reviewing even more cliques. Like band kids, who are “clever,” “sarcastic," fond of outdated memes and generally “lead a fun, joyful existence.”

@stillateacher Replying to @juan pablo Suarez band kids get a 5 star review #teacher #teachersoftiktok #teachertok #highschool #clique ♬ original sound - Ms. C

Or art kids, who are “self-deprecating” but “brilliant” and “generous” and “unproblematic royalty” overall.

@stillateacher Replying to @Escape_My_Reality ♬ original sound - Ms. C

Ms. C has even advocated for the AP overachievers, who are often labeled as insufferable in their eagerness.

@stillateacher Replying to @520momo_mama I will defend overachievers to the death #teacher #teachersoftiktok #teachertok #highschool #clique ♬ original sound - Ms. C

“You all have an edge and an intensity that you can leverage to lead truly extraordinary lives,” says, before joking that they’ll “also need a lot of therapy, so many blessings to you on that journey, and the earlier you start the better.”

Requests for more clique reviews are still rolling in, asking Ms. C to cover the skater punks, the nerds, the speech and debate team, cheerleaders and dancers, …and a lot of folks have suggested choir kids. So be sure to follow Ms. C for more wholesome entertainment.

High school cliques might evolve with the different generations, but one thing that will never change is that they each have something unique to offer.