GLAAD Weighs in on Lambert Rumpus
Adam Lambert’s Nov. 22 on-air same-sex kiss during the 2009 American Music Awards generated plenty of sparks--and heat from outraged viewers, 1,500 of whom contacted ABC to register their shock and displeasure that the openly gay singer planted one on a male musician live on television.
Lambert has chalked up the controversy, and a cancelled Today Show appearance, to a double standard, saying that heterosexual entertainers conduct themselves in similar fashion all the time without facing blowback.
Meantime, CBS has snapped up Lambert, booking him for a Nov. 25 interview and performance on The Early Show in the wake of ABC’s dropping him from a scheduled Today Show gig.
The performance made for talk show fodder the next day, as the ladies of ABC’s The View deconstructed Lambert’s act and drew comparisons and contrasts (as Lambert did himself, in a statement) to same-sex kisses shared by female performers on the program in years past.
LGBT media watchdog group Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) weighed in on the controversy.
"Some music performances, regardless of the sexual orientation of the performer, are tailored for a prime time audience but not for a morning show audience," said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. "It is disappointing that Good Morning America did not give Adam Lambert the opportunity to tailor his performance to their audience, as he did on their show in August 2009. We applaud the CBS Early Show for taking this opportunity to work with Lambert on a performance that is entertaining for an early morning television audience."
Barrios’ comments were carried in a Nov. 24 New York Times article that also reported that GLAAD was told by ABC that Lambert’s sexuality had nothing to do with the network’s decision to cancel his Today Show performance.
A Nov. 24 posting at GLAADBlog noted that ABC had told Entertainment Weekly, "Given [Lambert’s] controversial American Music Awards performance, we were concerned about airing a similar concert so early in the morning."
"Prior to the show, Lambert promised MTV that his AMA performance would be ’sexy’ and he certainly delivered," the blog posting, written by GLAAD’s Entertainment Media Manager, Jonathan Rosales, recounted, before going on to describe Lambert’s American Music Awards performance. "Strutting amongst leather-clad musicians and dancers, Lambert made out with a male keyboardist, danced suggestively with numerous dancers of both genders and simulated oral sex with a male dancer on a leash.
"The simulated oral sex was censored for the West Coast broadcast, though the rest of the performance was shown in full," the blog’s account continued. "Not surprisingly, the performance sparked the ire of the anti-gay Parent’s Television Council which called on its members to contact ABC and Dick Clark Productions. ABC says they has received 1,500 complaints, though they also say this is only a ’moderate number. It’s unlikely ABC will face any fines from the FCC, which does not allow ’indecent material’ between the hours of 6-10 PM. Lambert took the stage well after 10 PM."
The blog noted that in addition to The Early Show appearance, Lambert has also picked up a booking on The David Letterman Show. Lambert’s debut album, For Your Entertainment, was released earlier this week.
A Nov. 25 Associated Press article quoted Lambert as saying earlier that same day on The Early Show, "I admit I did get carried away, but I don’t see anything wrong with it. I do see how people got offended and that was not my intention. My intention was to interpret the lyrics of my song and have a good time with it."
However, Lambert had no apology for his act, making note of other performers, such as a booze-bottle smashing Lady Gaga and a dancer-fondling Janet Jackson, who appeared on the American Music Awards program with material that viewers might also have taken umbrage at, but apparently didn’t.
"Janet Jackson, crotch grab," said Lambert. "I haven’t heard one peep about that." Lambert took the complaints as evidence that gay performers are targeted for more criticism for any sexually charged moments on stage than their straight or female counterparts. "I think it’s because I’m a gay male," he said.
Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.