Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The last thing I'll say about American Idol OR: Why America is still struggling with it's homophobia

I'm sad tonight. I'm sad that Adam Lambert lost American Idol. Here's the thing - I'm not sad that he lost the singing competition. That doesn't bother me. Adam Lambert will eclipse the winner, Kris Allen, as well as mostly every other "Idol" that came before him. Adam Lambert will be successful, but that's not what this was about...not this season.

I recently likened Adam Lambert to Jackie Robinson and initially I laughed it off as nothing more than a drunken rant, but the more I think about it, it's not that far off. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and was the first black player in Major League Baseball. He changed the way people thought about blacks because he excelled at something. He was the best. Baseball, in that time, was the American pastime - the most popular thing in the country. Today, not so much. Today, American Idol, for better or worse, is the most popular thing in this country and whether we like it or not it takes the pulse of how we're feeling and, more importantly, how we're doing. It's bigger than a singing competition. Now depending on who you are, this may seem like a sorry state of affairs, but that's not changing its validity. There were a hundred million votes for this thing. That cannot be denied.

Adam Lambert may or may not be gay and this cost him the title last night. He's not "out", but that doesn't matter, the court of public opinion has spoken. For some reason, in this country it's okay to be prejudiced against gays. Our politicians can continually decree that they don't support gay marriage because if they were to they would be unelectable. Even Barack Obama, guys - he has contributed to turning his back on civil rights when he came out against gay marriage and the fact that he probably isn't actually against it makes it that much more deplorable. It's spineless. It makes him a liar.

Anyway, I digress. Adam Lambert not winning American Idol is a bigger deal than surface would suggest. Here's some truth - Adam was consistently the best performer week in and week out on American Idol. He was the most daring, the most progressive - he changed the game. There was no way anyone would beat Adam Lambert, but then when push came to shove someone did. I'm not bagging on Kris Allen. He seems nice. But the American Idol? Come on.

In a year when California ignorantly voted against gay marriage, a Broadway queen winning American Idol would have meant a lot. It would have been a step forward. A change from the norm. But, it didn't happen. This isn't about how the gay community reacts to someone like Adam Lambert, either. That's irrelevant. It's about how the rest of America reacts to him...and they were so close. So damn close. But it didn't happen and that disappoints me.

I didn't want Adam to win because he's gay (or probably gay). I wanted Adam to win because he deserved to win. He was the best. Bar none. He was humble and sweet and he could sing. He was just better. And he didn't win. The best man didn't win and my fear is that he didn't win because of his perceived sexuality and if that's the case America, then we've still got a long way to go.

I know this is not keeping with the usual tone of this blog and this may sound overly idealistic and maybe even a bit condescending and for that I apologize. It's not meant that way. I just want to say, you don't have to be gay to care about this. I, believe it or not, am not gay, but I understand that this is about equality. You just have to care. You just have to be a human being. Am I suggesting if you didn't vote for Adam than you're a homophobe? Absolutely not. Kris is both talented and likable. But understand that there are people out there who did just that. Who didn't vote for Kris, but voted against Adam. We're not there yet and based on the way the season was going, I thought maybe we were. But we're close. We need to cross that threshold, though. This is a fight worth fighting.

I'll go back to being funny later, I promise.


Ann Marie said...

I'd have to argue that Ellen DeGeneres is the Jackie Robinson the gay rights movement. She broke a very real barrier when she came out, both on TV and in real life; it was a VERY VERY VERY big deal at the time; she's a big part of the reason that regular people are less homophobic in general than they were 15 years ago. Bear in mind that Jackie broke the color barrier in 1945... 15 years before the Civil Rights movement started picking up speed.

Anonymous said...

America, and people in general are far more willing to accept a gay woman over a gay man, its just easier for them to swallow (poor choice of words?) because gay men are evil and we all drink childrens blood at night...thats right!

Lazy Lorsie said...

As I was telling anonymous earlier, I totally thought Lambert should've won - he was just 100 times more talented despite Kris' Kuteness. But that mad world performance with all the fog and the columbine coat really made me retch. I think that had a lot to do with people not voting for him. But I also kinda hate gay people, so dont go by what i say

Pat D Sez said...

Not to take anything away from Ellen, she absolutely broke down a door - no question, but she did it on a sitcom. Americans don't vote for a sitcom. This was more about the temperature of the country than it is about an individual.

Blanket said...

"Kris's Kuteness" !!!!