If there is an entertainment trend ripe for satire, it is the begging-for-attention smut routines at nationally televised music awards shows. How low can these "artists" go? Sadly, there is always another frontier. "American Idol" runner-up Adam Lambert was the latest offender at the Nov. 22 American Music Awards on ABC, with a routine complete with S&M bondage slaves, deep male-on-male kissing and simulated fellatio on stage.
All in front of millions upon millions of impressionable youngsters. It was another in-your-face Janet Jackson moment.
There's only one thing that makes this funny. It's the idea that somehow none of this was planned, that it was just a spontaneous eruption. ABC was embarrassed enough by Lambert to cancel a planned performance on "Good Morning America." If they expected cheers for that, they're sadly mistaken. ABC clearly wanted to avoid making its news division question the entertainment division's horrendous decision-making.
Every piece of evidence we have suggests ABC and Lambert knew exactly what they were going to do. Lambert told MTV to expect something really sexy. "I was looking for a certain sensuality," he explained about choosing his dancers, and said the S&M wardrobe was "amazing." MTV reported it would feature the sensibility of his music video for the song he performed: "Adam Lambert is fully embracing the S&M lyrics featured in his single. Greased up dancers are dolled up in leather, dog collars, nipple clamps (zoinks!) and platform boots."
The rough-sex lyrics of the song ABC approved for national consumption are very clear: "I'ma hold ya down until you're amazed/Give it to ya till your screaming my name." And this: "Baby, I'm in control/Take the pain/Take the pleasure/I'm the master of both."
For their part, ABC repeatedly told viewers to stick around for Lambert's routine. They scheduled it at the very end of show so they could suggest it was irresponsible for parents if their children caught this porny show right before the late news.
It is clearly offensive to watch ABC and Dick Clark Productions now play dumb in their official statement: "Due to the live nature of the show we did not expect the impromptu moment in question," they jointly declared after the edited West Coast version. There was no "impromptu moment" that was in question. It was the entire disgusting performance, approved and promoted by ABC and Dick Clark Productions.
CBS News jumped in to promote Lambert where ABC left off. How dumb did Adam Lambert think America was? Let's survey his comical answers.
1. Did you have any idea your performance at the AMAs would ignite this firestorm? Lambert said: "No clue. No clue at all."
2. Did you plan those sexually charged moves in the rehearsal? Lambert: "Those kind of came from more of a impromptu place. No, those were not rehearsed."
3. This was the best question from CBS interviewer Maggie Rodriguez: Now that you have had time to think about the children, your child fans, do you feel that you need to apologize to them? Lambert's absolutely classic answer: "I think it's up to the parents to -- to discern what their child's watching on television."
4. Rodriguez followed up: "Well, but they had no idea they were about to see something like that on network TV." That's where Lambert started sounding like a lawyer: "Well, you know -- and you know, just to play devil's advocate with you, Lady Gaga smashing whiskey bottles. Janet Jackson grabbing a male dancer's crotch. Eminem talked about how Slim Shady has '17 rapes under his belt.' There's a lot of very adult material on the AMAs this year and I know I wasn't the only one. I'm not using that as an excuse and I don't have any -- I didn't take any offense with those performers' choices, I'm just saying I think it's up to a parent to watch the television. It was almost 11 at night. If they're concerned with certain material, maybe TiVo it and preview it before your small child is watching it."
Oh, shut up. Rodriguez summed up Lambert's lack of regret:
5. So you don't feel that it's your responsibility to issue an apology? Lambert unfurled what could be a motto for the entertainment world in general: "I'm not a baby sitter. I'm a performer."
So we can blame Lambert, we can blame ABC, and for starting this all, we can blame Fox and "American Idol." They took up Lambert and made him a gender-bending crusader for gay liberation in entertainment. Sexual politics trumped his screechy (and let's face it, lack of) talent. Lambert's honesty about his absolute, leather-bound mission to offend came out at the CBS interview's end. He was asked if he had to do it over again, what would he do differently? "I would sing it a little bit better."
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