Saturday, November 17th, 2018

Much Ado About Adam

Published on November 30, 2009 by   ·   23 Comments Pin It

Guest Blogger Ari Solomon (creator of our favorite eco candle line A Scent of Scandal ) says what we have all been thinking about Adam Lambert’s much blasted performance;

There were a couple of legitimate criticisms of Adam Lambert’s seemingly unremarkable performance at the AMA’s the other night: the choreography was not the most imaginative, the vocals were (as Randy would say) “pitchy,” and the song was, frankly, just one of your run-of-the-mill-come-hither pop ditties that we’ve become inundated with on the Top 40.

What was remarkable, however, is that this performance had an openly gay man as its centerpiece. And a brief part of his routine included a 3-second-long kiss between him and another man.

Image Courtesy of Djansezian/Getty via NY Daily News

Image Courtesy of Djansezian/Getty via NY Daily News

This of course sent a certain segment of our annoyingly puritanical country into an uproar. ABC, which aired the show, received over a thousand complaints (almost all from action-alerted members of two right-wing “family” organizations). Even though millions were watching, those thousand or so letters caused ABC to cancel Adam’s performance on Good Morning America. (The program showed no hesitation, however, in booking Chris Brown, who recently beat the shit out of his former girlfriend Rihanna, for an upcoming show. One can only wonder why “family” groups have nothing to say about that.)

Not to be outdone, CBS lost no time and booked Adam for their morning show where a condescending host took him through a ridiculous string of questions that made it seem like Lambert was sitting in an uptight principle’s office after school. Even worse, when CBS aired the kiss that dare not speak its name, they blurred it, lest they offend their viewers. It was all just “too controversial.”

Now I ask you: if this was a kiss between a man and a woman would ANYONE have batted an eye? Adam’s AMA performance closed the show at 11:00 p.m., and yet by 9:00 p.m. we can see men and women half naked entwined in flagrante delicto on almost any network show. And I don’t remember anyone blurring Madonna’s tongue assault on Britney, and that was years ago and with a woman half her age.

Apparently this is perfectly fine (and hot,) but Adam's kiss is not.

This whole scandal over a kiss highlights the ugly homophobia that still pervades our country, particularly toward gay men.

What is a gay teen supposed to think when he learns that just kissing another man is something so awful you can’t dare show it on television? It’s this very double standard that allows gay teens, both men and women, to be bullied and victimized in school. It undoubtedly contributes to self-esteem issues and also fires up homophobic dickheads in the schoolyard.

Shame on ABC, for barring openly gay artists from coming onto your morning show, but welcoming men who brutalize women. Shame on CBS, for attempting to make Adam Lambert out to be some naughty pervert when he’s done nothing different than what female performers and straight male performers have been doing for years.

And, thank you to Adam Lambert, for not being afraid to take an artistic risk based on who you are. For too many years, actors, singers, and performers of all kinds have been forced into the closet. It’s about time someone had the courage to kick the closet door off its hinges and just be themselves.

At the end of Adam’s number, he gave the camera the middle finger. At the time I thought it was juvenile and quite disrespectful. Now, I think it was the perfect choice.

Ari Solomon is the President and co-creator of the celebrated vegan candle line A Scent of Scandal . After graduating from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Ari first worked as an actor in New York and Los Angeles, and later hosted the wildly popular ARI’S HOLLYWOOD UPDATE on Miami’s Y-100FM. Now a prolific activist and writer for animal and human rights, Ari’s writes regularly for The Huffington Post, and this here blog.

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Readers Comments (23)

  1. Kanika says:

    The Madonna/Britney kiss was on MTV, a cable station known for pushing the buttons. You pretty much know what you’re getting into when you tune in there. However, Adam Lambert’s act was performed on regular television, which has more restrictions and such (even if the performance was @ 11pm). The kiss wasn’t bad. However, that whole scene where he rubbed his crotch into some dude’s face was really tacky and extremely inappropriate for regular TV…It’s disgusting & rude no matter who does it. Considering the hysteria, blacklisting (and fines) thrown @ Janet Jackson & JT for their performance @ the Super Bowl some years back for a nanosecond-long booby shot, Adam Lambert got off light.

    As for Chris Brown being interviewed- It’s all about getting the inside scoop to a very sad story…I believe that ABC interviewed Rihanna earlier this month so now they have his side of the story.

  2. Lisa says:

    Thank you for this! My thoughts exactly. I’m more offended that my 10-year-old routinely asks what “natural male enhancement” is. You don’t even have to wait until 11pm to see those commercials.

  3. Dawn says:

    The kiss didn’t upset me. The fact that a crotch was rubbed in someone face did. If a male crotch was rubbed in a woman’s face(and vice versa)I would be equally upset. I don’t expect to see this when I’m watching with my niece. For me the whole debacle isn’t about homophobia, it’s about respect. In fact, this probably doesn’t help matters for the LGBT community at all.

  4. Kristin says:

    Haha, I missed this show. Nothing shocks me anymore, but I wouldn’t consider this a trailblazing (more desperate for attention) move. Television is horrible, which is why I never ever watch it. They didn’t even start showing womens’ belly buttons til the 70s lol!!! I hate Chris Brown, he needs to get gone.

    This country, in short, equates morality with sex. Abortion, nudity, homophobia, etc.

  5. Charlotte says:

    I personally love a good, bawdy performance. That is called ROCK N ROLL. It’s why people look to these wild trail blazers to do the wacky stuff we would NEVER do. Puritans with their panties in a bunch should leave the USA and never come back. This is a land of FREE SPEECH. PS… went to see Precious the other day.. and a trailer in the beginning showed a new movie with Chris Brown in it. The teenagers in the theater CHEERED!! CHEERED for a woman-beater.

  6. Donna says:

    I agree with you completely Ari and I echo Lisa’s comments – my 11 year old routinely sees ads for Viagra and other “male enhancers” before it’s even 7 P.M. But what really mkes me crazy are all of the so called sit-coms that have nothing but mean humor. At least a kiss is affection!

  7. Melissa says:

    I’m with Dawn on this one.
    I was shocked that he rubbed a woman’s face in his crotch. I really don’t understand why that’s fine but kissing a man (a very androgynous one at that) is cause for a stir.
    Yet another example of this country’s fucked up priorities.

  8. brook says:

    part of why everyone got their panties in a bunch over that kiss is because male same-sex lovin’ is different than female same-sex lovin’–it purportedly exists to entice and bolster male/heterosexual desire–it’s the “girls gone wild” effect where the function is to get men off and the desire isn’t real or legitimate outside that. i am disgusted not only as a human being, but also as a queer woman.

    and i agree 1 million percent that if they’re that upset by a male-male kiss between consenting adults, then why on earth would they interview chris brown? the answer? he may have beat the shit out of rihanna, but at least he’s straight. and he can go to counseling for that violence stuff. you can’t counsel your gay away–it’s just plain sinful.

    well said ari! thanks gga and chloe jo for this excellent piece! xo

  9. Allison Tray says:

    I think his performance was total cheese, nothing trail-blazing about it at all. He’s this years Janet Jackson’s “nipple”. YAWN. He perpetuated a stereotype, instead of being exciting and innovative. As for Chris Brown on ABC, who is surprised? It’s about ratings not morals. He’s a piece of shit and ABC will take this “controversy” all the way to the bank.

  10. Jason says:

    I’ll be honest. The song and the performance have grown on me more and more with each subsequent viewing of this little piece of “controvery.”

    The song, like most pop songs, gets more catchy each time you listen to it, and it’s refreshing (for me as a gay man) to hear the gay male equivalent of the “risque” material sung by Britney, Christina, Madonna, etc. It may not be incredibly deep, but its impact isn’t lost when you think of all the young gay guys who will dance to this song–a song that essentially speaks to and about them–and all the young straight guys and girls who will dance along without caring one way or the other.

    Furthermore, this is plain and simple a matter of equality. Controversial heterosexual performances are performed on the AMAs. Putting the whole Madonna/Britney episode aside (because it did air on MTV even though CBS didn’t blur the kiss while making its comparison), girls can wear next to nothing while bumping, grinding, gyrating, etc., and it’s no big deal at all because the sex being alluded to is straight. Guys can sing about doing this, that, and the other thing to girls and make obscene gestures to go along with it, and it’s no big deal because, again, the sex being alluded to is straight.

    Point blank: you’re not accepting the gay population if you want to think of us as simply hairdressers and decorators who make catty, cute quips. Gay sexuality is human sexuality, and what’s good for the gander is good for the gay gander…

    Thanks for this blog post, Ari!!! Well said. The middle finger WAS the perfect choice.

  11. ricosuave says:

    As tacky as the performance was, the outrage and censorship of it indicates a clear sign that homophobia is alive and well in America. Seriously, I’m a straight man, and I can’t for the life of me understand why people hate homosexuals so much. There is no good explanation or reasoning for such close minded and disgusting behavior committed against homosexuals. Do people REALLY think god hates fags???? C’mon already people, get your heads outta your asses.

  12. ricosuave says:

    Oh, wait, I saw him kiss another man on tv, now Im gay. Shit, they got me!!!!!

  13. Ali Berman says:

    I couldn’t agree more. The day after all the homophobic garbage came out, I wrote to ABC and CBS about their ridiculous double standards. The sad truth is, in this country, lesbians are seen as hot and non threatening while gay men are still seen as fringe and scary. Lambert didn’t do a thing wrong. He just kissed another person. On TV, people kiss other people all the time. Who cares what gender they are. It makes me SO MAD.

  14. Ari Solomon says:

    Melissa, Dawn, and Kanika —

    Just to be clear he rubbed a male dancer’s face in his crotch, not a woman’s. And I think we all remember Janet Jackson’s “IF” video where she did the same exact dance move not once, but about three times. That video was shown all over MTV at all hours of the day… and 15 years ago. Is it in bad taste? Who am I to say? But why is that in any worse taste than seeing men and women naked in bed together on shows like Melrose Place and Gossip Girl which air on network TV and at a much earlier hour? What do you tell your niece about that? And again, CBS did not blur the crotch move, it was the gay kiss that got all attention and was replayed and blurred.

    The comparison to the Janet Jackson “Nipplegate” drama rings hollow. That was about nudity. Not that I necessarily have a problem with that. Americans tend to get hysterical over nakedness. Go to Europe and you’ll see boobs all over billboards. It’s just the human body people.

    Additionally, my point in bringing up Chris Brown is to highlight the glaring hypocrisy of not just the networks and the right-wing “family” groups but of ALL OF US. How can we seriously defend a decision to cancel someone like Adam Lambert, whose dance moves may be considered raunchy by some, but book someone like Chris Brown whose actions everyone should find objectionable and horrifying. “His side of the story”?? What other side is there to domestic abuse?

    It’s astounding they would cancel Lambert and book Brown and it’s equally telling that no one raised a stink about it.

  15. Lauren says:

    I think the reason I hated his performance was because it was clearly an attempt for publicity. He is a cheesy fame-whore. I think artists like Madonna/Britney are well known for their over-the-top shows, but to come out with a crappy song and depend on your controversial performance to get attention is unacceptable.

  16. Charlotte says:

    He may be cheesy, and he may want to be famous.. but he can friggin SING. And he’s actually paid his dues in years of Broadway and touring, as opposed the majority of reality-based talentless stars America idolizes.

  17. Kanika says:


    Again- MTV is a cable station known for pushing the envelope. The year before Janet Jackson’s “If” video (1992), Anthony Kiedis & Flea of RHCP simulated a gay sex act @ the VMA’s and while some people were offended by it, it didn’t hurt their careers. Now if they did that on the AMAs…(God I so showed my age on this one for remembering that)

    The comparison to the “Nipplegate” drama does not ring hollow if you think about it. If memory serves me, hundreds of thousands of people complained about that incident and it was just a half-second shot of a boob. If you blinked, you would’ve missed it. GMA cancelling AL’s act IMO is a mere slap on the wrist compared to the book that was thrown @ JJ five years ago.

    While both breasts & kissing are completely natural acts, you have to remember that for the most part, the United States is deeply rooted in puritanical ideals/values. So if an artist is going to dare to push that envelope, they really have to prepare for the consequences that may come…

    And believe me when I say the crotch rubbing segment rubbed a lot of people the wrong way and played a major part in people’s complaints about AL’s act. Nearly every blog I’ve read, or person I discussed about this could’ve cared less about seeing two dudes kissing, but were beyond offended by the crotch rubbing. It was offensive and low-class. AL’s desperate attempt to shock the public failed because his act was extremely lame, a desperate cry for attention and (save for the really cool he wore that night) lacked any sort of creativity or originality…

    As far as Chris Brown goes- I think he’s an unapologetic little jerk and if I owned a TV station, I wouldn’t have given him any free press. However since he did not beat Rihanna on ABC’s airtime that is why he got the time of day and Adam Lambert didn’t…Just sayin’ that’s the reality of the situation and how this society works. Don’t be shocked!

  18. Kanika says:

    I meant to say really cool SUIT…My bad!

  19. Joan says:

    Thank you Ari for another well written and thoughtful piece. I agree with you completely !

    Keep up all the great work you do !


  20. April Oh says:

    The worst part is CBS’s explanation that Madonna’s & Britney’s kiss is very familiar and has 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. LAME!

  21. Jenni says:

    Homophobia is alive and well. Damn right. And especially towards gay men. I cannot agree with you more. Although, I would love to see America’s reaction to butch women making out on TV. For some reason, I don’t think that would go over too well either. If it’s not 2 traditionally attractive ladies kissing, then I’m pretty sure it’s satanic. And the whole “crotch rubbing” thing! You’ve got to be KIDDING me! The performance clearly referenced BDSM and the “crotch rubbing” was a play on Dominance and Submission. No need to get the feminist panties all in a mess. I’m pretty sure it was consensual. ;-)

  22. Elizabeth says:

    I completely agree that this double standard is disgusting. It’s all fine if (usually straight) women want to show off their best lesbian playboy poses, but public display of affection by gay men is still a big no-no for the most part. As a queer femme I really, REALLY detest this situation.

    BUT… the bigger issue here for me is that I thought the performance itself was awful. Adam Lambert looked really uncomfortable with the material, and there was just nothing remotely sexy about it. He seems completely unoriginal to me, I’m not really sure what his actual ideas or opinions are. Plus, I’m sorry, but he is not that great of a singer. When I have expressed this opinion previously, people have defended him regardless.

    It just seems unfortunate to me that there wasn’t more actual talent involved, because now I am forced to defend crappy pop music or seem like I’m the homophobe.

  23. Mason says:


    Do you know where I could find more info on the VMA incident where Anthony and Flea made the aforementioned homosexual act on stage? I am doing some research on it and anything would help, like a youtube video of the MTV broadcast, news articles, etc. Thanks in advance!


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