Former American Idol contestant Adam Lambert is at the center of a lot of controversy over his performance at the 2009 American Music Awards on ABC. He kissed a guy, groped male and female dancers, dragged a girl around by a leash, and gyrated (with a guy’s face against his crotch). Oh ya, and he flipped everyone off too.
According to Rolling Stone Magazine, Lambert said, “Female performers have been doing this for years — pushing the envelope about sexuality — and the minute a man does it, everybody freaks out.”
Is he right?
The Parent’s Television Council urged viewers to complain. About 1,500 complaints were promptly phoned into ABC about the AMA performance and Adam Lambert’s performance on Good Morning America was canceled.
I totally think we had this coming, and don’t understand why we are complaining NOW. Why are we so shocked when we’ve become so permissive and accepting of behavior that pushes the limits. Our current society is built on the notion that that sex sells and advertising messages are everywhere and get bolder every day.
I’m not trying to be a prude. I can understand sex as art. However sex is often disguised as art or freedom, when it’s just being used as a tool to sell or influence.
Anybody look at the little girl’s sections of clothing stores? When I was younger I would have thought most of it was hooker attire. I bet you know a little girl under eight who has mastered the art of gyrating like their favorite artist (and their moms are so proud). It’s okay for women over 35 (even married women) to want to be cougars or a MILF (and purchase things to help them become one). Some daytime soap operas come pretty close to soft porn. How many times in everyday life have you seen the image of a woman or girl sensuously licking a lollipop, popsicle or their own finger? Or a woman straddling something in a sexual way? How many little kids see it? We seem to accept this.
The line in the sand has been moved time and time again. Sex is to entertainment and advertising as sugar, salt and fat are to fast food. They are all lures they hope we are fish-brained enough to bite.
Is Adam Lambert’s behavior at the AMA performance unprecedented? Madonna has shared open mouth kisses with Brittany Spears and Christina Aguilera. Madonna and Janet Jackson are crotch grabbers and have had their dancers in submissive sexually-suggestive positions with groping. During a live performance at the MTV Video Awards the musical act t.A.T.u. included hundreds of young-looking girls dressed as school girls who stripped down to what appeared to be underwear and they gyrated and interacted in ways that were suggestive of an orgy. The act concluded with lots of girl-on-girl kissing.
Katy Perry’s song “I Kissed a Girl” (and I liked it) has enjoyed much commercial success and was nominated for a Grammy. It was even nominated for favorite song at the 2009 Kid’s Choice Awards. This is a song that includes lyrics like “I got so brave, drink in hand, lost all discretion” and “No I don’t even know your name. It doesn’t matter. You’re my experimental game.” What if Adam Lambert had tried to sing “I Kissed a Boy” (and I liked it) at the AMA’s? Would it be nominated for a Kid’s Choice award? I have a hard time seeing that.
So why did the malleable line in the sand become a barricade for Adam Lambert? On Wednesday, Sherri Shepherd of ABC’s The View offered an explanation on the controversy:
Shepherd said, “The thing about Adam versus Janet and Madonna, is he hasn’t earned that position yet.” This was met with applause from the audience. She continued, “He just came off American Idol. I’m not saying you earn a right to do that…but what I’m saying…is we’ve grown up with Madonna. We didn’t even know Adam Lambert.”
I agreed when Whoopie Goldberg responded that was bull and that it should be one standard for everybody. However I don’t remember that drawing much applause from the audience.
Lambert’s actions certainly aren’t hurting his album sales and he is a hot topic now. The stunts by Madonna and Janet have helped them pull through stale moments in their careers. Art or manipulation?
When Lambert’s appearance was cancelled on ABC’s morning show, CBS snatched him up for the Early Show. However, curiously, it’s been reported when they showed clips of both Lambert’s and Madonna’s same-sex open-mouth kisses, Lambert’s clip was blurred out. Madonna’s was not. According to Extratv, when questioned why they did that, a rep for CBS said, “We gave this some real thought. The Madonna image is very familiar and appeared countless times including many times on morning television. The Adam Lambert image is a subject of great current controversy, has not been nearly as widely disseminated, and for all we know, may still lead to legal consequences.”
Did Adam Lambert cross the line, or did the novelty of his maleness show a problem we had become blind to in a new light? He feels the outrage is due to being a gay male. Maybe. I think it was more of a shock to see a male, with all the perceived physical power that entails, than a woman committing those acts. It’s become so “uncool” to bring up questions of what is too sexual for the general public, that we’ve let so much slip through the cracks in a non-threatening way. But is it fair?
I wasn’t offended by the performance, rather it induced eye rolling. These music award shows usually feature something shocking so I expected something like it. His antics reminded me of a high schooler resorting to sex jokes or sexy dress for easy attention when they have nothing else to offer. Hmmm, reminds me of many current music videos. The thing is Lambert did have more to offer and the performance itself actually suffered, but the statement he’s trying to make is a valid one.
I’m the type of person who has TMI (too much information) limits regardless of who it is. I don’t want to see anybody groping and slobbering over each other in public, regardless of sexual orientation. I wouldn’t want me, my parents, or my best friend to show off sex moves in a public venue aimed at a general audience as Lambert did. However, he is definitely not the first and it is not uncommon.
In spite of the controversy, Lambert refuses to apologize. Should he? I don’t know. As I wrote before, I think we asked for it and it’s our own fault.
PS: I think I need to mention, Lambert claims the moves were unrehearsed and unplanned. Did the dancers know they were going to be grabbed, fondled, and a face planted into his crotch? I haven’t seen that question raised. Hopefully it’s because most of us don’t believe him.