Friday, November 27, 2009

Shocking But Not Pink

At dinner last night, one of the guests at the party I attended asked everyone what they thought about the whole Adam Lambert AMA's 'thing'. I can't call it a scandal. It's just a 'thing' to me. I said "I have a blog coming up about that" and the conversation was open to the floor; and everyone had an opinion - even those he hadn't seen it had something to say...

For example, someone pointed out that, years ago, Madonna humped a wedding veil all the way across a stage during a telecast; another guest argued that "it was on cable". True. It was MTV. Also, when she masturbated in her Blonde Ambition concert telecast - it was on HBO. Adam was on network tv, just like Janet was when Nipplegate happened - and she experienced a similar backlash. The furor cost her a gig playing Lena Horne in a biopic. This is not an isolated homophobic incident -- it was a calculated move on Lambert's part that would have received little to no attention, were it on cable, instead of on network tv during the family hour.
Madonna is the perfect example of the kind of shenanigans that Adam Lambert is trying to stir up, doncha know. We have always had rock performers who push the envelope with their sexuality, with androgyny (hell, it goes so far back in annals of history as to include classic film stars -- hello! Marlene Dietrich!). Sometimes those envelopes were pushed with good taste and sexy suggestiveness and others, well, not so much. BUT at least when Madonna was masturbating onstage, the performance had vision, had purpose and, most importantly, had talent to back it up.

I've heard people crying FOUL! I've heard people crying HOMOPHOBIA! I've heard people crying a lot of things in the aftermath of the Adam Lambert AMA's 'thing'.

I watched it.

Do you want to know what I am crying about it? Do you want to know what I found most offensive about it?

It was boring.

I should state, at this point, that I admire Adam Lambert. I respect his talent and I think he is a one of a kind singer who deserves the successes he earns. IF he earns them. I think he should be famous, recording wonderful music and sharing his freak of nature vocal abilities with the world. It would be a shame to be the possessor of such gifts and not share them with the world.

His performance with the world was not, in my humble opinion, based on his ART. It seemed to be something he created to shock everyone and to make a statement -- and it wasn't a statement based on who he is, on sexuality, on acceptance... it wasn't a statement that said anything but "look at me" and "aren't I shocking?" Remember how desperate Sally Bowles was to shock everyone? Remember how disappointed she was when she didn't? Adam Lambert didn't create a song or a performance with his eye on the work, on the art; he created them with his eye on the result. When artists work, they should focus on the art. When you focus on the art, it becomes the most important thing and it can carry the full weight of your vision, the full resonance of your expression. If an artist only has their eye on the prize, the artwork becomes secondary. As an artist, would YOU make your artwork secondary? Or would you have the integrity of the great artists of our world whose stories talk of their suffering for their work, their sacrifice for their art? Why do you think there are so many hack actors and hack singers out there? Why do you think we are forced to sit through the generic musical stylings of people who sound just like the other singers out there whose names we cannot seem to get straight? Why do you think there are so many bad actors on tv, making us wonder how they got this job and that our grandmother could say those lines better and emote with more expression? Because they haven't chosen to be artists. They haven't they frame of mind that they want to be an ACTOR or a MUSICIAN. They want to be famous. At any cost.

And often, that cost is at the expense of the audience.

The song Adam Lambert sang was bad. It was uninteresting and didn't showcase his extraordinary voice. That's already starting in the hole. Then came the overproduced number with its' overblown sexual overtones that don't say anything more than "do I shock you, darlings?". And while he may have offended some, while he may have shocked some, he didn't do either to me. He simply bored me. He simply embarrassed himself and set his rating back, at least three points. Then, in the aftermath of the whole thing, he compared himself to David Bowie - oh, such a mistake. David Bowie is a great artist who earned his stripes by being cutting edge, by being controversial and by backing it up with great music. Just let your mind wander and make the list of people who blazed the trails by balancing out their uniqueness and their artistry.

F. Scott Fitzgerald gave us one of my very favourite quotes: "You've either got to feed people, amuse 'em or shock 'em".

Artists like Annie Lennox and Bowie fed our artistic natures; artists like Bette Midler and Elton John amused our senses of humour; artists like Madonna and Prince shocked us.

Adam Lambert, so far, hasn't done any of them for me.


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