Daily Archives: November 23, 2009

I Kissed a Guy, and I Liked It: Fearless, Trashy, or Both?

David is really the stealth ninja.  He sure knows how to be far, far away from controversy at music events.  First, the VMAs (speaking of which – damn you, Kanye! Because of your stupid stunt, we’re stuck with Taylor Swift for a long, long time! Ugh!), and now the AMAs.  So far, David’s been wise enough (as always) to not even mention them. Unlike his good friend, Jason Castro, who foolishly tweeted about how “disgusting” he found Adam Lambert’s performance last night (only to receive the full wrath of the Glamberts descending upon him).

Seems to me Jason should take a page out of David’s manual and learn to either not criticize, tweet a few “that was interesting, haha” posts, or remain silent altogether.  And Adam, by the same token, at the least, should learn from his AI runner-up predecessor how to act with class.  But that’s just me.  I do realize that being trashy and projecting bad taste is his schtick.  And all I have to say is what Prince would say: “Hey, whatever floats your boat…”

Here’s the thing.  I like Adam’s fierce fearlessness.  I’m glad to see the remnants of a queer community that refuses to conform to heteronormativity, that rejects such “straight” values as “same-sex marriage” and monogamy, that dares to reclaim the dark, dirty settings of the bondage fetish scene, which were once representative of the gay community before the assimilating gays decided to abandon this image in the wake of AIDS.  Adam dares to be “different,” and while the 19 Machine wants to “control” and “package” it for a mainstream audience, Adam refuses to play it safe or classy or suggestively.  He’s an in-your-face “I’m here and I’m queer,” no apologies, no holding back.  

But is that wise for a newcomer on the music scene, who has to already overcome being an Idol contestant? I mean, there’s also “knowing your audience.” This is the same audience where people are still not quite open to accepting straight-acting gays and lesbians, let alone the “deviants.”  Is it too much of a compromise to expect him to know when he needs to “tone it down”? I mean, he already knows about “compromise” (i.e. if you’re going to be “out,” then get rid of the gals on stage and do a complete boys show.  But, of course he’s not going to omit the girls because he knows he needs to play to that straight audience, where he projects a “bi-curious” aspect to his stage persona to get some mainstream acceptance).  

Boy-on-boy kiss? Cool, do your thang, Glambert! But the simulated BJ?  Is that fearless or just plain trashy?

And while Adam makes a really good point about the “double standards” between male and female performers, as we saw with all that raunchiness expressed by the likes of Janet, Shakira, JLO, and Rhianna (that whole robot, bondage theme was all kinds of weird) – even though there’s an element of queerness in Lady Gaga, who called attention to her crotch area precisely because of all the rumors about her being “intersex” – surely he understands that the sexism that undergirds these expectations of female hypersexuality also shape the homophobia that might not want to see him, the male performer, as hypersexual, especially in the context of “queer sex” on stage.  

I’m mixed on the whole performance and on Adam Lambert in general.  I once commented on my Anxious Black Woman blog that I believed American Idol was practicing a form of “gaysploitation,” hyping up the spectacle of difference Adam offered for their show, since they were desperately looking for “edge.” In this quest for “difference,” we’re witnessing an undisciplined yet talented performer confusing his queer sexuality with “edge,” without really confronting the ways that his sexuality shouldn’t automatically be equated with “edginess” to begin with.  Or what progress have we really made?  

Then there’s just the performance itself.  Was it fearless, or was it trashy?  I mean, I remember when Prince was highly critical of Janet Jackson during the Superbowl scandal (and I was really mad at him because I love both artists and thought he was joining the bandwagon in persecuting Janet while Justin Timberlake basically got away with undressing a woman on national TV). He found that whole performance “banal.” It was when he followed with his own halftime show two years later and did that whole silhouetted performance with his guitar (which produced the effect of Prince and his black phallus – heh) that made me really appreciate his criticism.  It was his way of 1)giving repressed, sexually prudish middle America the metaphorical bird and 2) sending a direct message: “See, Janet? This is how you push the envelope and get away with it!”  

Fearlessness, to me, is being able to push the envelope and get away with it.  Which is what Lady Gaga was doing with that whole crotch performance.  Subtlety has its qualities (Yes, Lady Gaga was being subtle! At least in a queer way, certainly not a heterosexual way).

So give me David’s subtleties over in-your-face fearlessness any day.