He kissed a boy, and I liked it
The national moral microscope shifted in the United States last Sunday from an intern-loving late night host to an androgynous American Idol runner-up named Adam Lambert.
For those living under a rock – or floating outside the blogosphere and twitterverse for a day or two – here’s what went down.
The American Music Awards ceremony was moving along Sunday night as blandly as expected. Shakira shook her booty for a bit, MJ continued to rewrite the last ten years of his life with some more posthumous honours and Taylor Swift collected a slew of awards, sans interruptions. So far, so meh. Then came the finale.
The now incomparable Adam Lambert, wearing a shimmery silver suit, a slick black flame of hair and enough makeup to frighten a Myer cosmetics worker, gave an S&M-themed performance that drew an estimated 1500 complaints to TV network ABC.
Squealing his debut single, “For Your Entertainment”, Glambert stalked across the stage gripping two male dancers by a leash, pressed a bloke’s face to his crotch for a bit of faux-fellatio, tripped over at one point and ultimately kissed his (male) keyboardist. Apparently, God did make Adam and Steve.
The singer often criticized for playing it safe and not “coming out” while on Idol last year was clearly making a statement: I’m here, I’m queer, I have an album dropping Monday and I need as much publicity as I can get.
The fans heard him loud and clear. Two incarnations of Lambert’s debut disc, “For Your Entertainment”, raced into the iTunes top ten albums chart following the controversy. But the fallout has been huge.
The blogs, tabloids and cable networks are all a flutter over whether the ex-Idol went too far. You’d think the bloke had shaken a couple of babies up on that stage.
Of course, the family groups cried foul. Parents Television Council president Timothy Winters said folks were outraged. “They just can’t believe the nature of the content, the explicit nature, and how much graphic content there was,” he said. Clearly, Winters has never seen our own Axel Whitehead in play.
ABC – happy to flaunt the exploits of slutty Desperate Housewife Edie Britt until they killed her off – bowed to the pressure. The network cut away from the moment of simulated oral sex when the show was broadcast on the west coast and cancelled Lambert’s scheduled appearance on its morning show, Good Morning America.
A spokeswoman for ABC said, “Given his controversial American Music Awards performance, we were concerned about airing a similar concert so early in the morning.”
Lambert told the LA Times: “It’s a shame. Female entertainers have been risqué for years. Honestly, there’s a huge double standard . . . It’s 2009, it’s time to take more risks. It’s about entertainment.
People want to be surprised. It’s too bad that people are so scared.”
Glambert is right to point to the double standard.
Since Madonna started grinding the stage in a wedding dress at the 1984 MTV Music Awards, it’s been pretty much de rigueur for popettes to push the sexual envelope at these shows.
On the same night Glambert gayed it up big time, Shakira and Lady Gaga gave their own none-too-PG performances. Anyone who flicked over to MTV during the performance might have seen any number of girl-on-boy, girl-on-girl, girl-on-team film clips.
True, when Madge joined Britney and Christina in that steamy MTV three-way pash-fest back in 2003 – a tribute to her original MTV bump-and-grind – there was some outrage, but nothing was edited and no future performances were denied.
That’s because Lambert is a gay bloke and gay blokes get a different deal. Just being a gay man is pushing the envelope enough, apparently. No need to actually demonstrate what it means.
The simulated oral sex was questionable, true, but by the time Lambert hit the stage it was past any kid’s reasonable bedtime. It was the parents who were offended.
As for the lip-locking, if societal standards allow for Katy Perry to kiss a girl and like it, Lambert should be allowed to snog whichever keyboardist he wants.
As a gay man, part of me wishes Glambert would tone it down a little. He is right now the most prominent gay bloke in the US and his face-grinding shenanigans do little to dispel negative stereotypes some homophobes hold.
Trying to convince people you’re not an ecstacy-chewing morally bankrupt party boy when Glambert is their image of gay men is no easy task.
And with issues like gay marriage going to the vote at referendums across the country, we need as many people onside as possible. Flamboyance is not our most effective political tool.
But in fighting for equal treatment on marriage we shouldn’t sacrifice it on stage. I may not like what Adam Lambert did, but I defend his right to do it.
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@nigelmcbain I don't see the nexus between gay marriage and gay sex education in schools. ACL does. Health issues should be taught whatever
@jennijenni a few companies are known to do that - ask for story ideas from job applicants so they can steal them later
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