Monday, November 23, 2009

Seal of Approval: Adam Lambert

Like everyone else, I now love Lady Gaga after the masterpiece of "Bad Romance"...but what really blew my mind was American Idol Adam Lambert's insanely gay performance last night on the American Music Awards!!! This was absolutely the first time I have ever seen such "classic" homosexual imagery within the context of an openly gay performance on a major awards show! He dragged some guys in bondage gear around on a metal leash! He kissed a guy! Simulated oral sex which sadly was edited out of the West Coast Feed! Whoa!

Apparently it "shocked" many- prompting a commentor to say "I can see why America is embracing Taylor Swift. She is sweet and pure. I didn’t understand it before, but Adam helped to put all of that into perspective." Another referred to it as "degenerate" and "sick." Many people said they wouldn't want their kids watching, as if this was the first "inappropriate" performance on an awards show-but think how great this could be for older teenagers who really are confused about their sexuality and see something like this validated, even in a theatrical way?

Yeah, the song was pretty bad, and the singing was more Broadway-esque than anything else, but it was more about the spectacle. It seems that though we have seen as much from scantily clad-eighteen-year-old girls appropriating this type of sexuality in order to appeal to men, it's okay, but when it comes to a gay man camping it up in the same way, it freaks everyone out. I think we are so used to gay performers consciously trying to avoid addressing sexuality, or to only embrace the most mainstream of mainstream to not alienate anyone, it is nice to see such an obviously brash/trashy/bawdy tribute to it. (Additionally, everyone has sat through countless performances wherein clearly gay backup dancers dance suggestively around the lady-star, so it was nice to see backup dancers be what they usually are, which is hella gay!)

Anyway, I have to agree most with Entertainment Weekly critic Ken Tucker who said, as a TV viewer, he totally disagreed. "I thought Lambert's performance was a gas, a delight, a blast of brash vulgarity in the midst of merely ordinary vulgarity," he wrote Monday morning. "Lambert was an event unto himself. The song he was singing was beside the point — and the point was, 'Here I am, Adam Lambert, freed from the shackles of 'American Idol,' I'll push this dancer's face into my crotch if I feel like it, isn't it funny to lead human beings around on leashes, and can you believe how high I got my hair to stand up under these lights?' "

Anyway, perhaps someday we won't have to talk about performances like this one as if they represent all of gayness, as they obviously don't, because we will have lots of representations of gayness in all it's forms in the media and blah blah blah, but for now, at least he did it loud and proud.


Simone said...

When I saw Kylie live in October, her gay-ass backup dancers totally gayed it up with each other. Also, she had this whole video sequence of her (male) dancers, like, naked in the shower. The sea of queens grooving around me freaked out for that. Gayest night of my life, hands down!

Anyway, I never thought I would give props to Adamn Lambert, but I guess pigs must be flying or something.

Nickey said...

The performance was interesting, but I don't know if I can forgive him after that awful photo shoot he did for Details. I'm assuming you saw it?

Anonymous said...

Details shoot thumbs-down seconded. It seems like he doesn't care who he's objectifying.

M said...

i never really looked at the details photo shoot. now that i have, i can say it does suck, so i am willing to say my seal of approval is not for adam lambert himself, but for this performance.

also, magazines like details are the WORST because they are clearly the gayest things ever yet try so hard to be straight in the smarmiest, most misogynistic ways.

teach people not books said...

somewhat related--i went to a thought-provoking session on representations of gay males in young adult fiction at a conference i attended last weekend. the discussion centered around the idea that as authors--both those who do and do not write gay male characters--attempt to achieve realism by including homophobic language in the dialogue of teens in the novels, they are simultaneously if unwittingly authenticating the view of homosexuality as necessarily different and usually negative. (reminded me of the issues with and criticisms of cohen's bruno)
even books like levinthan's boy meets boy are not immune. the other issue discussed was the limited views of homosexuality and masculinity presented in young adult literature, including LGBTQ literature. the feeling was yes, this is progress, but we hope to see many options for what it means to be masculine and what it means to be LGBTQ in the future.