Entertainment behind the scenes
Wild child Adam Lambert sheds his family friendly “Idol” glow
“American Idol” runner-up Adam Lambert built a broad base of support during his run on the show this year. After all, “Idol” got to be the top-rated program on U.S. television by appealing to moms, dads, teens, doctors, lawyers, Indian chiefs and everyone in between.
So when he took the stage on Sunday night at the American Music Awards and simulated oral sex with a back-up dancer, kissed a male keybordist on the mouth and gestured to the audience with his middle finger, he was bound to lose some of that broad “Idol” audience. Lambert all but said as much when he told Rolling Stone magazine that if his performance “offends (people), then maybe I’m not for them.”
But was it right for Lambert to put on such a sexually charged performance at the AMAs on network television, shortly before 11 p.m. on the East and West Coast and before 10 p.m. Central Time, when some teens and younger viewers might still have been watching the show? Does Lambert bear a special responsibility to reign in his sexual provocation, since he presumably has many young fans from his “Idol” days?
ABC on Tuesday canceled Lambert’s scheduled appearance on its “Good Morning America” as a result of his performance at the AMAs, after it received more than 1,500 complaints about his stage antics, but the singer has other TV appearances lined up.
Of course, the fact that Lambert is openly gay plays a significant role in the controversy. Last week, Aaron Hicklin, the editor-in-chief of gay magazine “Out” posted an open letter to Lambert after the singer posed for a cover shot. In the letter, Hicklin said that Lambert’s record label and management insisted that the magazine “must avoid making (Lambert) look ‘too gay’” and that they insisted he only appear on the cover in a group shot, not by himself.
Hicklin also criticized Lambert’s appearance in the magazine Details, in which he was photographed cupping the breast of a statuesque, nude female model. Hicklin suggested it would have been more radical to pose with a guy.
Lambert responded to Hicklin’s criticism by telling Entertainment Weekly magazine that Hicklin “has his agenda and has his opinions, which I respect, but they’re not necessarily my opinions” and that the editor “really crossed a line” with his criticism.
Was Lambert’s AMA performance a bid to reclaim some street cred by putting his sexuality front and center? Lambert defended it by telling Rolling Stone “there’s a double standard” in the entertainment world. “Female performers have been doing this for years — pushing the envelope about sexuality — and the minute a man does it, everyone freaks out,” he told the magazine.
Either way, the “Idol” singer has put the lie to one early criticism of his performance style. When Lambert lost to Kris Allen in the “Idol” finale in May, New York Times critic Jon Caramanica wrote that Lambert, a former musical theater performer, showed himself to be just “an old-fashioned song-and-dance man” and that “if he was hiding something, it wasn’t his sexual preference, it was his conservatism.”
No one is saying that about Lambert now. But did he go too far?