Tabloids, teeny boppers and tweeters have been going bananas over Adam Lambert’s interesting performance on the American Music Awards this past Sunday. The controversy is swirling around the American Idol runner-up’s pelvic-thrusting, dancer-on-a-leash, fellatio-simulating, male keyboard-snogging shocker of a performance, that was much different than the usually wholesome realm of Idol.
Lambert, scheduled to perform on Good Morning America today, was quickly dropped after ABC received a barrage of livid objections, berating the producers at the prospect of having to watch the raunchy performer over their morning cup of Java. According to the New York Times, an ABC spokeswoman commented, “Given his controversial American Music Awards performance, we were concerned about airing a similar concert so early in the morning.”
Upon learning of the predictable public backlash to his performance, Lambert, in an interview with Rolling Stone, bemoaned the double-standard about male vs. female performers:
Female performers have been doing this for years — pushing the envelope about sexuality — and the minute a man does it, everybody freaks out. We’re in 2009 — it’s time to take risks, be a little more brave, time to open people’s eyes and if it offends them, then maybe I’m not for them. My goal was not to piss people off, it was to promote freedom of expression and artistic freedom.
Indeed, that wasn’t the first time a performer has used S&M imagery, was sexually provocative or kissed someone of the same sex at an awards show. A vast number of female performers have found great success when upping the sex in their image and performances. Perhaps the most famous onstage same-sex kiss was between Madonna and Britney Spears (the Madonna/Christina Aguilera was less sensationalized), and though it sparked public outcry, it also furthered both performers’ careers and was often lauded for “pushing the envelope.”
Janet Jackson, Madonna and Lady Gaga are no strangers to onstage bondage and simulations of sexual acts either, yet have seen continued support for overly their sexual performances. In fact, Miss Jackson chained a male dancer up at a Los Angeles show in 2008 and simulated oral sex.
Madonna, too, has imitated the act on stage at a number of onstage shows and photo shoots.
Perhaps Lambert was correct when he told CNN that ABC’s censorship of parts of his performance (namely, the oral sex simulation) is “a form of discrimination and a double standard.” Women are typically encouraged and often celebrated for being as close to nude as possible, simulating sexual acts onstage and focusing on the exhibition of their bodies and sexuality, and record sales often skyrocket as a result. It has been years since the crotch-grabbing heydays of Michael Jackson, who was arguably the last male to use overt sexuality onstage, and the public’s as well as ABC’s objection could reflect a double-standard of attitudes toward men and women’s sexuality as well as its exploitation of women’s bodies.
Furthermore, that Lambert is openly gay may play a factor in the brouhaha. While it is acceptable for otherwise heterosexual women like Britney Spears to kiss another woman to make a statement and appeal to straight male audiences, a gay man kissing another man on primetime television spark s homophobia. Though ABC assured CNN that the “gender has nothing to do with [the cancellation],” it is hard to overlook the situational implications.
Though ABC dropped Lambert, CBS’s The Early Show seized the opportunity to enlist the controversial singer and scheduled him this morning in GMA’s place.
Fans are already sympathizing with Lambert on Twitter, and #ShameonYouABC is trending right now (thanks to Dorothy Snarker for the tip). What is your opinion on the censoring of and uproar in reaction to Adam Lambert’s performance? Is it a double-standard, homophobia, both, or none of the above?