Friday, December 4, 2009

Ugh: Lambert!

American Idle
I know I'm a little tardy for the party on this one but since two people were talking about it on the subway last night I assume, much like no-balloon-attic-boy, that this story hasn't completely flown away.

Let's make a few things clear: I don't watch American Idol. I don't know who Adam Lambert is. I don't care who Adam Lambert is. I don't listen to his music. I don't really care that he's gay and apparently neither does he. Several times Lambert has gone on the record to distance himself from representing or wanting to have anything to do with the gay community saying that he's his own person and his music and choices are his own and blah blah blah blah blah... From his Entertainment Weekly Interview:
"I can talk about relationships and personal experiences because as an artist those things involve writing lyrics and that part of my process. But I didn’t feel comfortable talking about the March on Washington. I didn’t feel comfortable, so I asked my publicist to ask the interviewer to stay away from the political questions. I take full responsibility for that. I think that the editor has his agenda and has his opinions, which I respect, but they’re not necessarily my opinions. And I wish there was a little respect for that. Not every gay man is the same gay man."

So Adam Lambert gets on stage on the night of the American Music Awards and in an unrehearsed move simulates oral sex with one of his male dancers and then kisses his male keyboard player. Ooooh shocking! Soon there's censoring and edits and blurs. The network is outraged. The gays are outraged. The Christians are outraged. Everybody is outraged! Please, get a grip, and if you need some proof that the the stunt was unrehearsed then go visit the Chicken Littles at GLAAD and lick it up baby, lick it up:
"Given the live nature of the American Music Awards, Adam Lambert’s performance, which differed greatly from his rehearsal, caught many, including the network, off guard. This is not a question of Lambert’s sexual orientation. As is evidenced by GLAAD’s media report card, ABC is at the forefront of positive gay and lesbian portrayal on television."

While everyone is freaking out the issue of double standards and the famous Britney/Christina/Madonna kiss is brought to the table.

Let's just make another thing clear: The American Music Awards are on the prime time national network ABC while the Madonna/Britney kiss was on the Video Music Awards on MTV. These are two totally separate networks with two totally separate standards and practices and two totally different demographics! MTV can get away with things like sudden or rehearsed lezbo kissing. ABC, well they have a little more red tape than that.

First, let's just admit overall, gay or straight, that Lambert's stunt was simply inappropriate. Ok? Whether it's Pink, Madonna, Britney, Adam Lambert, male on female, male on male or female on female, gay or straight, simulating oral sex on a nationally televised primetime broadcast just doesn't make any sense. It's just not appropriate. I know we Americans are desensitized to everything and our media has comfortably settled within a proud norm of mediocrity complete with low-level morals but there should be some standards for these obviously pointless, gratuitous actions. Yes, double standards exist. Boo-hoo. They always existed and despite how hard we fight, they will continue to exist. Double standards are a fact of life. But, if done appropriately or subtly, I do believe one has the ability to blur the lines of what we consider double standards. (See also: David Bowie, Boy George, Marylin Manson, Grace Jones, etc...) If Lambert's "dance" wasn't so off-the-cuff, aggressive and out of the blue I don't think we'd be having this conversation. I'm not saying he should have donned a tuxedo, took a man by the hand and pecked him on the cheek but he could have gone at this from a different angle.

At least Britney and Madonna's kiss had a certain class to it. A certain, mesh to it all. Their kiss was a simple, subtle, like a little exclamation point to the end of their performance. Lambert's was sloppy, awkward, tactless and seemingly came from nowhere. His music nor choreography lead up to any crescendo which would call for that type of action and suddenly he's trying to defend himself? Please. If the Britney/Madonna kiss never existed Lambert would have no defense to stand on - or - had the female pop kiss not happened, his actions might have served a greater purpose or at least pushed the envelope. But instead, it just stood as utterly pointless with low-rent shock value. A cutesy stunt that blew up in his face. I would be less critical of Lambert if his actions had anything to do with his song, performance or talent. If it worked together in any way. But really I believe we're just using this double standard nonsense as a means to defend him from his stupid, sloppy behavior.

I wonder how ABC would have reacted if Lambert came to them wanting to include some form of homoerotic element to his performance? Maybe it would have been a little watered down and safe but we certainly wouldn't have ended up with this tumbleweed of nonsense news and the backlash we "not represented by Lambert" gays receive.

When Politician Larry Craig was busted using "gay cruising techniques" in a public toilet, me, my friends, and the gay community's reputation were dragged through the dirt as though we as a whole use these public bathroom cruising tactics as a means to pick up men. I never cruised public bathrooms and neither have my friends but suddenly this desperate "straight" guy taints my community and lifestyle with his reckless actions. Unfair as it is, much like a double standard, people will feel as though this is something "we" do, something "we" support. Lambert's actions accumulate to much the same. Here we are on the brink of marriage equality and all the sudden, a gay guy who wants nothing to do with representing the gay community, represents us in the silliest way possible. In the end, many people of this nation don't see Lambert as an "artist," they see him as just another faggot wearing eyeliner. There are people in this country actually sitting on the fence about marriage equality. People just undecided enough that a stunt like Lambert's makes them get up and walk to the other side. "See! That's what I'm talking about - they want to shove it in our faces! This is what our world will be if marriage becomes equal! This is the side effect of the liberal homo agenda" (insert dramatic music.) If Lambert wants to break that double standard of not being just another faggot wearing eyeliner than simulating oral sex on stage, in front of America, while being completely uncalled for, is not going to help that.

Now I'm not looking for a place at the table. I'm not saying we all need to behave and act like gentlemen or dress nicely or act straight or anything like that. I'm not telling Lambert to pack it up and take off the make up but what I am saying is I'm not going to support him just because he's gay. After all, he's an "individual," right? He should just focus on his music and career and prove to America that he's actually talented and not try to be some Reality-made provocateur. As if!

The stunt was inappropriate, bottom line. To me this doesn't really have anything to do with gay or straight but since Madonna and Britney got away with it then everything has to be accepted, right? Right?! Come on, are we really going to throw this example and that example back and forth to defend this guy from yet another "wardrobe malfunction?"

15 comments:

bstewart23 said...

Thanks for this, Leven. I, too, am disinclined to go to bat for someone whose "talent" is deeply pedestrian and whose "performance" is vulgar and artless, especially when he's compared by his fans to artists of infinitely greater talent and art. And DOUBLY disinclined to go to bat for someone who in one breath holds gays at arm's length "for artistic purposes" yet expects embrace when his stunts land him in hot water.

riot said...

Beyond the debate about whether Lambert's stunt was inappropriate (who looks to pop music or B-list awards shows to be appropriate, anyhow?), I am very disappointed by the tone of this essay. You seem ashamed of your own sexuality. I think you would certainly be ashamed of mine. You try to deny this in the second to last paragraph, but these late words are not convincing. I think that, deep down, you are ashamed of being queer. I bet you'd take the drag queens and leather men out of the Pride parade, if you could. You'd sanitize and assimilate us into the rest of mainstream hetero society.

No, thank you. I approve of outrageous behavior. I love that we are freakishly different than the straights. And I like it when we piss them off. I approve of bathroom cruising and eyeliner.

Learn to love yourself. Learn that it doesn't matter whether people think that all gays are like Larry Craig, Adam Lambert, or any flaming "faggot." Have confidence that as a queer man, you are all you need to be, right now, and no one's impression or opinion matters but your own and that of those you choose to love.

Please stop bashing your own kind. Though your semantics when using the word "faggot" are cleverly arranged, the fact that the word even appears in this post indicates to me that you'd like to hurl it at Lambert, with all the criticism, shame, and negative connotations that bigots use. To me, this is far more shameful than anything Lambert did.

In your last blog post, you said you spend time "fighting for a community so willing to tear you down." In your anger and shame, you are doing exactly that for which you criticize in the entire community. Lambert is a pop star. His stunt garnered attention and sold records. At the end of the day, that was his aim. He's succeeding. Be happy for him. He is one of us.

And finally, also in your last post, you claim that you are "going to try to find that human compassion in all of us...." Noble aim, but I'm sorry, I think you've not lived up to it this time. If you don't want to continue having to stick your middle finger up at those who call you judgmental, then I suggest you not introduce standards by which you would like to be judged, or at least not throw the first stone.

I recommend the book "The Velvet Rage" by Alan Downs, PhD. I think you would get a lot out of it.

If it harms none, do as you will. Live and let live, man. Peace. Love. And lube.

Knucklecrack said...

oh shut up, Riot.

riot said...

I don't "call bullshit" on those for whom I have no respect. The fact that I read your blog and write a comment indicates that I generally have regard for your words, and in cases where I disagree, that I'm interested in a healthy debate and genuine exchange of ideas.

I wish the converse was true.

ryan charisma said...

Well,

I, for one, had no intention of purchasing Adam Lambert's CD until his performance. As I had heard the whole "distancing himself" fodder as well. Of course his actions(performance) in AMA's (btw - crappy show with or without Lambert)spoke much louder than the Entertainment Weekly words.

So I bought his CD because I support my gay brethren. And you know what - it's actually good. Really good. He's got some excellent songwriters (Lady GaGa & P!NK, etc. as well as himself) and he does sing the shit out of his songs. That being said, I agree about his choreography. It was a dirty dance to go with a dirty song. And it wasn't executed all that well. As for the kiss and what not. Eh, I was over it a second after it happened. I mean, it's a kiss. Or it's a face in the groin (Janet had done that same move only 2 hours earlier to open the show). It was nothing Madonna hasn't done over the years.

Long story short, listen to the CD. And don't judge him too harshly for creating a scandal that sold many of those CDs. After all, isn't that really what his record company wanted?

hortonfinn said...

Bravo! Well said.

Backspace said...

Though riot’s comment may be a bit sanctimonious, I, too, was turned off by the tones of assimilationism I read in the post. I’m not looking to become more like straight people in order to gain their approval, I like the weirdness of queers. Bathroom action is not my forté, but I love that it continues and I resist the suggestion that it’s something to move past.

Terry R said...

"Oh shut up.."
Wow, almost as talented a lyricist as Adam Lambert.
Granted, the singer's music, timing, and style absolutely suck (in a bad way, IMHO) but he had the stage and like any rock (reality?) star sizzle is a sizeable part of the formula, gay/straight "sex" aside.
Back in 1973, Bowie was deemed "inappropriate" by critics for his mock blowjob on axeman Mick Ronson. To hear that kind of pearlclutching from a "liberated" activist type today is really ironic... but somehow fitting, from a clonish accountant who is love with his "butch" looks. Blech.

Kevin C. said...

Riot, I hear what you're trying to say, but it was rather smug.

So he bashed Lambert for his behavior, I wouldn't make the leap to internalized homophobia.

We can't always be a shiny happy pride parade of social acceptance, sometimes we need to call each other out on our own bullshit. I think that is the only way we will gain credibility in society at-large.

When I was in college one of my fraternity brothers verbally trashed me for being a "bad brother" and not supporting another brother in their time of need. The fact of the matter is that the brother in question had sexually assaulted a women on campus and admitted to his crime. I supported my chapters decision to hold him accountable for the decisions he made and have him disaffiliated. Does that make me a bad brother?

Long story to say that if you cant turn a critical eye on your "own kind" and be rational and balanced in your assessment how the hell do you ever expect to be taken seriously.

ewe said...

I agree with what you say other than your own double standard of dragging marriage equality into this mix. That has nothing to do with this. And lastly, Madonna is just an artificial imitator of those before her as well. Please do not give her any attention.

ewe said...

That B52 hairdo is so out of date. My god. You're a cutie Eric. I am talking about the inside. Keep writing.

Darling! said...

I didn't see the awards show but I enjoy Adam Lambert's looks and talent.

I don't really understand all the anger. At least he admits to being gay. Unlike Bowie who let people think he was gay to boost his popularity and then denied it all later.

I believe there is room for all kinds of queers....even Adam Lambert fans!

David said...

Riot,

You comment would be laughable if it wasn't so arrogant and judgmental. I know Eric, we are friends and I see him in action and if anyone is a friend of drag queens and leather daddies, Eric is. He is out and proud and unapologetic and inclusive in his embrace of his community. He puts me to shame in his acceptance and love of who he is and the community he is a part of.

But since he holds an opinion other than yours, you react like any proper third-grader and throw names at him. Why not just call him a Nazi like you are dying to? Grow up.

Mark said...

Eric, I agree. 100%.

Lambert is second hand, received crap, manufactured by entertainment conglomerates to pander to the lowest of low common denominators. The fact that anyone takes this tripe seriously is beyond me.

I guess people don't care that they're being marketed to. They just snap it up.

Rami said...

I hate that his antics are compared to Madonna. Gack! It just makes me want to slap people. Madonna is an artist. Adam Lambert, so far, is merely an ex-reality show star.