We really tried to keep this blog an Adam Lambert-free zone in the wake of his American Music Awards appearance Nov. 22. But recently he said something perhaps as provocative as his awards performance.
For those who missed the fracas, Lambert—an openly gay singer and American Idol runner-up this season—unleashed a raunchy, S&M-tinged performance during the AMAs, which included a liplock with a male keyboardist and a simulated act of oral sex.
Well. Ever since, the entertainment media has been all Lambert, all the time: Was it planned? Did he go too far? Would the reaction have been different if Lambert were, say, Madonna?
Lots of Christian organizations have weighed in on the brouhaha, of course. And that’s great. We’ve talked about it ourselves with a host of Culture Clips on the subject. But what finally sparked my interest was how Lambert himself responded:
“I’m not a babysitter, I’m a performer,” he told Ryan Seacrest on his radio show last week. He followed that up with Maggie Rodriguez on CBS’ Early Show, saying, “I think it’s up to the parents to discern what their child’s watching on television.”
Cop out? Of course. I lose patience with the Charles Barkley “I’m-not-a-role-model” stance pretty quickly, because celebrities are role models, whether they admit it or not.
But let’s be real: In the world right now, we can’t expect performers to behave in the ways we’d like. We can’t expect television networks to pull the plug when things get too raunchy for our taste, or for our children’s sensibilities. We might want them to—but we can’t expect them to.
The morning after Lambert’s performance, E! Online’s Joal Ryan wrote the following:
If our outrage over rock stars is nothing new, then neither are our rock stars. From Elvis’ pelvis on down, they are nothing if not dedicated to sex, more sex, the next new single, which is probably about sex, and ticking off people who prefer their s-e-x to be not so explicit, thankyouverymuch. Criticizing Lambert for what he did, smooched and pawed at the AMAs is like criticizing that Paula Deen lady on the Food Network because she made something with butter: It’s what they do.
It’s what they do.
But here’s what we do: We wield control—the remote control. And therein lies our real power. Power to sway the direction of what we watch in the future, because audience size is everything in the entertainment industry. And the power to shape our kids’ discernment by modeling our morals. That kind of power is nothing to sneeze at, folks.