Thursday, May 21, 2009

False Idol

I don’t watch American Idol. I’ve never been big on karaoke and I’m even less a fan of manufactured excitement and public humiliation. I am, however, a fan of talent. Adam Lambert is talented. Sure, that Kris guy is talented, too. And he seems awfully nice. But Adam is a star. You can’t quantify what that means, other than to say that once you see him you probably will never forget him. I can’t say the same for that Kris guy. This is, of course, a very long way of saying that the wrong guy won last night. We all know this. It can’t be refuted. But instead of wanting to scream at my TV or throw a shoe or curse into the darkness mad (because, again, I am totally not that invested in this unholy phenomena responsible for the Ryan Seacrestification of the universe), I am just deflated.

You see, we – all of us gays and queers and misfits and weirdos – thought America was finally ready. We were ready for a gay idol. Everyone was calling him the one to beat. He was the one to beat. It was going to happen. We were so close. Then, then that nice unthreatening, boring Kris guy won. And all of us gays and queers and misfits and weirdos sighed and said, “Not again.” But, once again, America dissapoints us. For all the strides we make and the comfort we feel in our homes, offices, places of worship and ultimately own skin, it still means something when the wider world looks at us and says, “Hey, kid, you’re OK.” So, when instead of giving us the pat on the head we get the cold shoulder, it hurts. It frustrates. It mystifies. I’m not saying The Gay is the only reason Adam lost. You can never underestimate a tween’s love for a boring boy. (Zac Efron, anyone?) Still when that Kris guy won, I feel like The Gays (along with anyone with ears, taste and common sense) took it the worst. Because even if Adam isn’t really gay (cough, he is, cough), or doesn’t ultimately call himself gay (cough, he will, cough), he is gay to America. And that’s what matters. The glam, the guyliner, the gayness. It was all just too much for people who like their world (and boys) nice, unthreatening, boring.

So, again, we wait. We wait for the pat, the nod, the thumbs up on everything from marriage to service in the military to who has the right to record some god-awful song. We know, no matter what they say, we’re better than that. And now at least we won’t have to pretend to like “No Boundaries.” Consider yourself a winner, Adam Lambert. Because you are one, you big fabulous homo, you.

40 comments:

Miss Kris said...

I don't watch that show either. But I'm not surprised he lost. People who think Americans are becoming more gay friendly or gay tolerant are just fooling them selves imo.

KOKKOVIRSI! said...

This seems so plastic.
I don't belive that a star can be born through that kind of television. I think a star has just to be... and well, this dude and everyone else on this show, is just a charachter, a cartoon, dressed like a toy.

No, will never like. Even if he's said to be "one of a kind". He looks quite common, to me..

:)

Anonymous said...

As a non viewer you certainly have a strong opinion. I watched all of it. Thought Adam was cool and beautiful. But he's a screamer and a rocker. If you like that kind of thing, Adam's your guy. Kris is NOT boring. He is a heartfelt interpreter of song. He was bold enough to reinterpret a Kanye West song to great effect. He's like Jason Mraz or James Blunt or John Mayer. His music style is popular and popular is not a crime or boring.

Gay people can interpret the loss by Adam as a statement about Gays in America but they should leave Kris out of it!

RHEA said...

In the long run I think that Adam will have a much longer and more successful career. As 'Anonymous' said, Kris is like Mraz, Blunt, or Mayer...and we already have enough people like that. Adam is unique...one of a kind. He can fill a niche that no one else is filling.

beemonster said...

oh Adam was too good for American Idol mate. you can see it on Simon's face when they announced the winner.

Anonymous said...

There's one word that beautifully describes Kris BORING. I was shocked and astounded that Adam did not win. I watched the season, and for me Adam was the real deal. I imagine he will have a long and successful singing career. Kris I think will follow the Taylor Hicks road to success(not). I am totally convinced that the reason Adam lost is because this country still (not so) secretly chooses the god-fearing straight boy over an obviously more talented, flamboyant talent. Call it what you will, I call it bigotry at it's American finest.

Femme Politik said...

Amen. Your post says it all, beautifully. It was so disappointing watching the tweets come in on the #americanidol Twitter feed saying things like "I hope the guy wearing makeup doesn't win, I'd never vote for him." My hope is that Adam Lambert's star will shine brighter for not being further dimmed by the Idol juggernaut. And you know that even though he didn't win, there's more than few little boys out there that saw Adam on TV and thought "hey, maybe it's okay if I'm different too." Some visibility is better than none. I've got my fingers crossed for a queer riot grrrl next season :-)

crabbyanne said...

Excellent commentary. You nailed it. I was really invested in his winning, I realize now that he didn't. My hope is that this allows him to be more of himself in the future. I never watched Am. Idol before and he completely enthralled me.

Anonymous said...

Adam was definitely the most talented. Don't know what happened, but I would like to think that his sexuality was not a voting factor! He should wind up being the most successful idol contestant in the end.

Anonymous said...

Next round, I hope for a queer rocker grrl, like Tegan and Sarah or Leisha Hailey. :D

Adam was disappointing, but he'll go further than Kris because he has stage charisma, and a fanbase of celebrities. :D

jennifer from pittsburgh said...

My exposure to AI this year consisted solely of the spare couple of minutes that bled over into Fringe's time slot. To me no one stood out, but I wasn't that vested in it either.

Jennifer said...

My gf and I were talking about this before the finale. She said that it seems like it may be fixed in favor of the underdog. Everyone knows Adam is awesome and will get record deals and have a career either way. But with Kris, he gets to do promotions for American Idol for the next year, which may be the entirety of his singing career. On his own? Kris probably wouldn't get the same fame that Adam surely will.

Alicea said...

I have to disagree with your statement saying the wrong guy won. Adam was going to be popular no matter what. He will go on and have a career, much like the Ruben Studdard/Clay Aiken deal. He is Clay Aiken. Clay Aiken was going to be a star winning or not. Kris and Ruben are the same, had they not won, they would have easily been forgotten. At least by Kris winning this gives him the chance to live out his dreams.

As far as America still being homophobic, I don't know. Adam is a popular guy and anyone who has a cell phone can vote, and with the younger generation not caring about a person's sexuality, I don't believe that Adam didn't win because he's a gay male. Honestly, when he performed with KISS and held is own, it was aparent that he needs to be in a band, not a solo artist, while Kris is better suited for a solo career. Some of your readers called him boring, but I disagree. I like him and his voice and his style of music he chose. His favorite performance he did was Kanye's Heartless. How many times are you going to hear an amazing acoustic version of that song?? You wont. Anyway to end my novel, I am happy for both of them and I hope both of them have long successful careers in the business.

e said...

"Ryan Seacrestification"

OMG! That's funny! Especially funny since Ryan's as gay as a goose!

I heart you, Ms Snarker!

pyewacket said...

I don't watch and I am not invested in AI so here is my take on it from hearing and reading about it being reported on like it is actual news...Adam was continually put up as the heir apparent by the media. And when the media does that, the general public tends to react in a 'wanna bet?' kind of way and backs the underdog. I really suspect that is what happened here.

WordNerd said...

I can't get into it either, but when I saw the alert come across the wire last night, I'll confess that this Amy Ray lyric came to mind: "All the punks and the queers and the freaks and the smokers/ feel like they’ll be waiting for the rest of their lives..."

Anonymous said...

I don't watch this show, but my gf does, so I'm familiar with both singers. I think Adam's style is more suited to musicals and Broadway. I always found him to be a bit screechy, which I'm not a fan of. He is a theatrical singer whereas Kris is more your pop music radio type. If AI is on to create a pop idol, then Kris was the right choice. He held his own with Keith Urban. Also, the Fray has an acoustical version of Heartless out, which is probably where Kris copied his version from. And just the fact that Adam could be on, wear makeup, tight pants, and theatrical costumes, went a lot further for gayness being cool than Clay Aiken's vanilla image on AI.

J9 said...

I yelled at my TV last night, and this morning I wondered if this was all backlash for Carrie Prejean. Now I realize that not winning is likely the best thing that could happen to Adam as an artist. He is no longer bound to a random contract (though he will get one), as not the winner he can be freed to record what he wants instead of churn out pop schlock. For us however, it is one more slap in the face.

Jenifer said...

I have to take issue with so much of this post I don't know where to begin. I don't think American Idol is about the things you say it's about. I don't think you can have a real opinion certainly about Kris Allen without having watched the show, because Adam (and Danny) got scads of publicity and Kris didn't. I agree with the above commenter that he was the underdog. I am a fan of both-voted like a demon against Danny two weeks ago, voted not at all last night because I would be happy with either winning. I'm sad that this is the commentary you chose to make.

Ann Powers's excellent piece in the LA Times about how Adam and Kris's friendship is the real meaning of the finale comes much closer to how I felt. Both singers, and their families, said again and again that they both had already won. Heck their duet on the show was "We Are the Champions" and they meant it. It's unfortunate that the idea that an evangelical young husband from AR and a probably gay glitter boy from San Diego can bond over their mutual interest in music, rather than stay divided by red state/blue state bullshit, is getting lost in all the screaming about Adam's sexuality, not only from idiots like Bill O, but also from blogs like this, which really should know better.

jaysays said...

I didn't get to watch much of the show either, but I would like to think that Adam's sexual orientation (whatever it may be considering he won't say) was not an influencing factor. I liked both contestants very much but found that Kris' use of musical instruments made him seem more of a musician. I did not vote for an idol because i liked both for different reasons.

Either way, I doubt we have seen the last of Adam. He is super talented - I'm also glad he won't have to do that "No Boundaries" song... it was AWFUL for both contestants and I hope I never have to hear it again!

justjesh said...

Speaking as a lesbian, I wanted Kris to win. But, I just prefer his style over Adam's style. I do think that Adam is talented, but not my cup of tea.

I have a really hard time grasping that all Americans are out to "get us" in a way in which they didn't vote for the gay American Idol TV star. I just don't think that's at the front of everyone's mind. It's easy to blame, though.

I think that Alison's votes went to Kris and when Gokey left, Kris obtained his as well which made his following grow quite a bit.

You want your AI choice to win, you gotta vote and not rely on the rest of America to do it.

Kim Ficera said...

Great post, DS. I watched this season, but on and off. I love that Adam IS a star -- he's got all the qualities. And, needless to say, I love that he's gay and OUT. I was an Adam fan from the beginning, BUT he lost me, music-wise, over time. I'm mellowing, I suppose. There's also part of me that almost always roots for the underdog.

There's no way to know if it's 'the gay thing' that put him in second place, but I doubt that had much to do with it. I think there are too many factors that go into making the choice.

Keep up the great work.

Anderson said...

Kris crowned Idol, but Adam deserved the tiara for sure!

However, America has gotten it wrong before. Note the lack of successful careers from past AI 'winners'.

Only a few have broken out of the one year dream and have achieved long standing celebrity status including Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood and of course our David Cook is a rising star.

The others had their 15 minutes of fame and now simmer on the back burners...

Non-winner Chris Daughtery is a mere example of Adam's future. Another one who 'should have' won, he made his mark, took his stand and has gone triple platinum.

If anything the 'non-win' for Adam will be a blessing giving him the choice to title with whom he chooses (as long as AI does not 'own' him)

We have not seen the last of Adam, the first one on IDOL to make it to the end being who he 'is' and not changing for anyone. AND doing EXACTLY WHAT THE JUDGES WANT, making each song 'his own'.

The mold was broken when he stepped into the AI realm and from this point forward he will always be a model for 'how' contestants 'should' perform.

For you peeps who don't like the 'screaming' and the 'theatrical side' of Adam. Well you obviously don't like amazing bands like U2, KISS, Aerosmith, Guns N Roses among many others.

As for SCREECHING what about Whitney Houston, Maria Carey. I mean COME ON that is such a lame excuse peeps.

Yes, Kris will have a 'career'. He's 'cute' and girls like that. He's like 'awwww I want one' like a little puppy. My prediction is that his personal life will get interesting too, and he'll be a topic of tabloids. Any good little Christian boy who has the masses tossing their asses at them may succumb to temptation. So the 'good boy' may someday become 'bad boy'.

His lack of confidence could really hurt his career too. First thing out of his mouth "WHAT? Adam deserves this more than me"

Black Horse won, yes the boy can sing. Black Trenchcoat ROCKS and we'll be seeing lots of him soon.

What's done is done, let's just see what happens!

Leigh Pfeiffer said...

When I think of Adam, I think Gary Glitter meets Wayne Newton..I didn't watch the show much either..But Adam seemed quite talented..But as we know, talent doesn't win American Idol..It is a popularity contest plain and simple..If it were truly a "Talent" competition..Then there would be people over 30 yrs old in it...I'm sure everyone will have there fill of both Adam and Kris in a couple of years..

Miss Emily said...

I'm not necessarily comfortable linking this to Adam's sexual orientation. I think sometimes we are so persecuted in other areas, we're quick to think that something is related to the orientation factor when it may not be. I'm not convinced it is. I think it may be more likely that everyone who was liking the less dramatic style all ended up voting for Kris when before it was spread out among other contestants. It may have had something to do with being gay, but I'm not offended as a bisexual, I'm just mad anyway. But really, I'm looking forward to seeing what Adam does without the constraints of the Idol contract.

Tweetsbian said...

I don't watch the show either, but I read/watch enough pop-cult recaps to get a general sense of things. I thought Adam had it in the bag. Then, I went for a family function in the South last week. And everyone was all about Kris. At first, I thought it might be a difference in taste. So I asked a distant 20-something cousin why he didn't like Adam, and he said, "I wouldn't vote for that sissy ever!" My first thought was: "People still use that word?" (Apparently, they do). Then, I just felt appalled to share some distant genetic code with the dude. Sadly, I got that sense from other people, too, especially on Facebook (let the bigot defriending begin again). Now I'm not saying that there aren't people who preferred Kris' style and voted for him for that reason alone. But if you don't think that Adam's sexuality and homophobia played a pretty big part in him losing, then you're just kidding yourself.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting to read your post, Snarker, then everyone else's. I'm not a AI watcher, but I guess it is always a bummer when the less talented guy wins. Just from my disinterested viewing, it was obvious who was really just getting the accolades from the music professionals:Adam.

But I'm not sure how much to read into it. On the other embarrassing talent show, Dancing with the Stars, the far less talented and more bland one won as well.

I think it just the tyranny of the 13 year old girls and their cell phones. (No to dis intended to the folks who genuinely liked the winners.)

Anonymous said...

I cried. It wasn't because Adam is more talented (he is by a mile), or because I really care who the next American Idol is. It's because he is a beautiful glam gay boy who has an amazing voice and amazing stage presence and I wanted him to win. I wanted America to be ready for someone different. He lost for every reason you said. And I cried.

TechGirl said...

I did end up watching the last hour of this idol and Adam actually won by losing. Other than Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, can you name two other winners who still have a recording contract?

Now, name the "losers" who have careers? Daughtry, Bice, Aikens are a few from earlier shows. Danny and Adam will have careers without the confines of the Idol machinery behind them.

Does any of these reflect on Kris? Not in my opinion. I give my best wishes to him. Adam doesn't need my best wishes because he is so damn talented and will be a success.

Kaitou said...

As a reply to TechGirl... I'm pretty sure Jordin, David and Ruben still have contracts. I dunno about Hicks or Fantasia since we haven't heard from them really.

As a reply to the post, I really didn't about this whole issue (Adam being gay, red vs blue, whatever you call it) until I read an entry in AE. Honestly, I never thought of it. I do think though that people are taking it way too far or making a big deal out of it.

I mean, reading some comments here and in AE makes me feel like I'm betraying my own just by liking Kris. =.= Seriously, they're both great singers. Kris is not BORING. I can't believe I'm defending a guy... lol. But Adam is definitely more talented. But Kris isn't really that far behind. I predicted Kris was gonna win even before knowing the controversy. I was even afraid he'd lose 'cause I didn't vote lol but I didn't care who'd win because they're both good. (I just don't like being wrong...)
I didn't know about all this until the day of the finale and I'm pretty sure 85-90% of the people who voted didn't care about that either. The 15-10% could be the extremist who think this is a fight for some representation of both sides because now I know there are people who voted just for those reasons (which makes it pretty even since both sides did vote this way). In the end, it's still just a popularity contest. The will both get far imo.

Norma Desmond said...

Ms. Snarker, you perfectly nailed what I felt last night and still today. I've been trying to articulate that to some non-watchers today, and it's just impossible if you've never seen La Lambert perform. And, boy, can he ever. It's not fair that those two boys should become cultural stand-ins for all the crap that's going on in this country, but they are. Middle America will take us and watch us, applaud us and love us, but, at the end of the day, they're just not quite 'there' yet. Maybe soon. But, then again, it was the coming THAT close that made it hurt all the more. Figures I would start watching that damn show the one season that could get me emotionally involved.

Jae said...

As a non-watcher, I don't understand the whole AI thing, but I wonder if we're pulling the gay card too quickly. With all the speculation of his sexuality it was quite easy to immediately think "GAY!" when he lost, but I refuse to become the homosexual equivalent of overly sensitive racial minorities who pull the race card at the drop of a hat.

Maybe it was because he was gay, essentially because he was too flamboyant, too flashy, just too "Broadway" as I heard him described, I doubt it was simply the 'gay thing' so much as it was the annoyingly eccentric 'jazz hands' gay thing

Anonymous said...

Why does it take someone winning American Idol to convince us that the world, America, has in fact changed?

Does a television show really say that much about America? I really hope not.

If we stopped letting the issue become the issue, perhaps we could simply sit down, look each other in the eyes, and get to know the people on both sides.

I'm not gay. But I believe people are people. Though we may judge you because of our backgrounds or religion, sometimes I feel judged/blamed as a straight person. As though it's my fault there is a great divide. We're not all that different. It's when we focus only on those differences that we narrow our vision and forget to see the human behind the issue. Inside. We all need love, we all eat and breath, hug and kiss, cry and laugh. We all hurt. We all hurt so much sometimes. Those stuck on race will always only defined by race just as those super-focused on sexuality will always be defined by just that.

Desaray said...

you are a dynamite writer. And youre right.

Minor said...

Excellent article. Keep rocking.court reporter

Anonymous said...

I don't know about y'all, but I'd be much happier to see Adam where he truly belongs: musicals and operetta. Listen to his peerless performance (at 22!) of this gorgeous tenor piece from Brigadoon. And note that he was Frederick in Pirates of Penzance in high school (a challenging and beautiful role--look up "O, is there not one maiden breast" if you need proof).

Dru said...

Totally.

Man, it was shown live here and when Kris won I was like riiight, I stayed up till 2 AM for this?

And yes, Kris is cute. He's like a puppy you want to pet or something.

But he's just not got that same thing as Adam does.

I guess I like both, but I like Adam a lot lot more. XD

Phebe, Cincinnati said...

I, too, rarely watched American Idol. But when I got wind of something special going on -- through Twitter -- I tuned in a couple times or watched snippets online the next day. Adam is truly exciting and a mega-star. Coming in second (a travesty) will make no difference in his future on stage in any capacity he chooses. Although I am a lesbian, I can say he's the kind of guy I'd go for! Thanks for your insightful commentary on the whole thing.

PhebeK

Nicole said...

Yes, Adam lost. And, yes, as a queer fan of Idol, I am disappointed that he lost. But, you know who won? A Southern, Christian boy who vocally supports gay rights. An ally won. That's pretty damn good, in my opinion.

Adam is going to have an incredibly successful career and not winning Idol will do nothing to stop that. He will be a positive role model for young gay kids to look up to for years to come.

Mariana said...

2 things:

Kris is Boring as hell and has just a nice voice and a cute face (some may considerer)

Adam is talented and original! This is the thing that will take him to the tops.

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