Every once in a while, I take a break from politics for a little pop culture talk. Today is one of those days.
If you haven't heard by now, American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert caused quite a stir with his performance at the American Music Awards. If you haven't seen the performance, Lambert danced around with sexy people of both genders. He laid a kiss on a female dancer and rubbed her seductively. Those things were fine. ABC and Dick Clark Productions decided to show all of that.
The problem came during two other points in Lambert's performance. Point one, Lambert took a male dancer's head and placed it in his crotch. The camera was immediately turned away from the scene. Point two, Lambert grabbed his keyboardist, another male, and placed a big kiss upon his lips (NY Daily News picture above). Of course, ABC was flooded with complaints and e-mails that this kind of thing always seems to attract nevermind that the kiss was aired on the same network that has brought you the Desperate Housewives, Wife Swap, Grey's Anatomy, and Dennis Franz's flabby butt on NYPD Blue. Shocking!
The performance itself was hardly his best, but Adam Lambert, who is openly gay, deserved better from ABC and from Dick Clark Productions as an artist. ABC canceled Lambert's appearance on Good Morning America citing fears that he might perform similarly to an a.m. audience. The ratings-starved Early Show on CBS immediately jumped to the plate realizing the ratings gold and booked Lambert to perform on its program. Lambert rightly points out that he did nothing in his performance that female artists such as Janet Jackson or Madonna haven't done in the past. In fact, Lambert pointed out that Janet grabbed her crotch in her performance earlier in the show.
ABC is well within its rights to do what it did. They have made a business decision to mitigate what they believe might be something that gets the network fined. The network, owned by Disney, airs Modern Family. That program features a gay couple that have adopted a young child. That shows that the network at least pays some attention to gay issues. So, they aren't really anti-gay. It's just that people don't necessarily want to be challenged by some things in their living rooms.
After the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl, networks have become ultra sensitive to these things. That doesn't change the fact that it seems to me to be a knee jerk reaction to an artist intending to express himself. Lambert's performance was hardly pornographic and hardly worse than anything seen in popular music videos.
There is such a disconnect in this country between sex and violence. There are countless shows on television today about crime, murder, death, and gore. Instead, we worry that our children might actually see Adam Lambert kiss a random male keyboard player because it challenges the convention of what many believe to be true and right and proper. Those conventions, frankly, stink. It's 2009. Time to grow up America, and ABC could have done a great service by standing by Lambert rather than running from him.
Adam Lambert's a great performer, but this one wasn't his best. If America were less knee jerk, the performance would have likely raised an eyebrow or two but likely would have been written off for its quality more than its content. By its own action, ABC created the controversy out of the original tempest in a teapot by canceling Lambert from his GMA appearance.
Honestly, if Adam Lambert had been Madonna and gave the same performance, would we even raise an eyebrow at this point? Doubtful. This country needs to get over its homophobia. The time is now! I condemn ABC's decision to cancel Lambert's GMA appearance. It's time to grow up and be adults here and treat artists equally without regard to gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation.