Sunday, April 27, 2008

American Idol HUG OF SHAME: David Archuleta, Fans, and the Heterosexist Machinery of FAME

Okay, I just can't stay silent even a second longer. I know I don't normally post on the weekends, but I saw this last week, and it's been bothering me since then.

Watch this, and tell me if it doesn't creep you out just a bit.

No, not the singing part - this kid David Archuleta is amazingly talented.

I'm talking about the fan hug part. Where Ryan calls up five girls from the audience and invites them to "hug" David Archuleta, who is sweet and embarrassed and trying to hide how horrified he is.

There is so much that is WRONG with this.

First off, could we give the kid a break? Is it not awkward enough to sing in front of millions of people live, but you have to let some fans come up into his space, right before he's going to sing, and invite them to hug him? WHOA!

I know it's a sad trade off for famous people to give up their privacy, but this felt like it crossed the line as being inappropriate. Do you really want every pre-teen and teenager who really likes a celebrity to think they deserve to go up and touch and hug that person? That's not a great thing to model, is it?

I know David Archuleta is all cute and innocent. And this isn't about his being gay or straight or questioning or whatever he ends up recognizing as his own personal sexual identity down the road.

Right now David Archuleta has NO sexual oomph! at all, which is clearly what America wants, since the voters got rid of the Australian hottie Michael Johns, who was a MAN!

Remember him?

No, David is a BOY, see?

and the girls who screamed and got to hug him were just little pre-teen girls with adolescent crushes on a cute boy with talent. So it was all innocent, right?


Where were the little pre-teen boys with crushes on David? How come they didn't get to come up and hug him, too?

It is amazing the MARCH IN STEP heterosexist attitude that this supposedly "sweet" fan moment fed into.

What about all the pre-teen gay boys? The ones watching at home, who are rooting for David Archuleta and who wished THEY were in the audience to scream and let him know how much they like him, too? How about their wishing to be there to hug him? Okay, that would still be inappropriate, but my point is...

shouldn't gay kids get to dream, too?

And why is American Idol so intent on building up the facade of hetero-normative culture?

Money, probably. But really, in addition to working on providing for food and education for kids in Africa, how about working to INCLUDE queer Kids here at home and around the world in the pop-love-fest that is American Idol?

How about acknowledging that there are gay fans, and gay contestants?

How about making our world a bit kinder and more inclusive?

Don't they make enough money, being the top show and all?

Isn't sometimes doing the right thing more important than doing the most expedient and most lucrative thing?

It was a HUG of SHAME.

And I'm embarrassed for Ryan. I feel bad for David Archuleta.

I love this show.

But going forward, I'm hoping for better.

Namaste, and enjoy watching,


ps- If you can't see the video clip above - some of the feeds are being "pulled" by the powers that be (go figure...), go to and search "David Archuleta Webber" (that's for the composer of the song he sang that week) and you can watch the video there!


Anonymous said...

Very insightful take on this incident.

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...


I'm glad I struck a chord (sorry about the pun...)



Anonymous said...

Excellent point, Lee.

When I was a young boy, I had a terrible crush on "Davy" of The Monkees. If I were growing up now I'd surely have a terrible crush on David Archuleta.

Hey, I'm a geezer and I still like the boy.

The truth is, D.A. does have a triple fanbase: girls, grandparents and gays.

When will we be open and honest enough about this to admit it without condemning it?

Anonymous said...

This is a little off topic with what this blog is about. But I am very much so confused about my feelings right now. I am 16 years old and I consided or "think of myself" to be straight. But when I look and hear david archuleta I feel like I am in love with him. Maybe because he reminds me of myself, so shy and innocent and maybe a little confused about our love lives. Your blog made me think. Hey that's not fair david does have gay, sraight, or even bisexual fans that would want to give him a hug. But what I am so stressed over is that I have never felt this way over a male before so its very strange to me. I don't know if I feel this way because I look up to him so much or that I am attracted to him. Someone please help I am so very confused!

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

It's a very brave thing to be honest with yourself about feelings that aren't the "norm." Discovering who you are and who you are attracted to is a journey more than a destination - give yourself the grace and time to figure things out. David Archuleta is cute and talented, but loving him as a fan because you've seen him on television is different from loving a real teenage boy or girl. You might want to see if there's a GSA or a Questioning/GLBTQ youth group in your area to find some peers to continue the conversation. Also, there are some links on this blogsite on the right sidebar under "coming out? check out" that are useful for folks (like you) who are trying to figure things out.
I wish you clarity and joy on your journey!

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much! I never talked to anyone about this and it feels great to get advice from someone who seems very educated and experienced in what they are talking about. But there is still more bothering me. I have been trying to defend my sexuality my whole life. My family even thinks I am gay. I have had plenty of girlfriends and have felt very attracted to them. But this is a first time thing and I think coming out to soon when I am not completely sure is wrong. And I know that oh he is a star and famous and its probably an innocent crush but my feelings for him are so strong. Its so bad that I don't want him to succeed in his music career so people will forget about him so I could meet him. Pathetic I know. I even told my best friend (which is a girl) about this and how I have fantasys about him and she said I just had raging hormones. This may just be a symbol that I like men or that I ONLY have a crush on david. When people call david gay I get all excited because it makes my feelings for him so real. He has been the last thing I think about at night and the first thing I think about in the morning. I have to meet him or I will die. I know you and your readers are very busy to answer these questions but atleast I got this all out. What a relief. Thank you again.

Anonymous said...

I know someone that knows David Archuleta.
And they told me he is in fact Gay. And hey, for some reason that doesn't come as a shock to me.

He is so dam cute too! omg!

But just like Clay, I think it's going to take some time before he comes out publicly.

And sorry but I just have to say it again....

David Archuleta IS SOOOO CUTE!!! <3

michaeldmobley said...

I would love to say "who cares?" as if Archuleta's sexuality doesn’t matter and it is unimportant. Unfortunately we as a society, culture (and I'll go so far as to say race(as in the human race)) are not at that point yet. There are some days I really wonder if we will ever get to the point where a person sexual preference really doesn’t matter any time in my lifetime.

Why do I think it matters? I think it matters if he is gay because I would hope that it helps the collective “us” get to the point in the future where it doesn't matter. Why do I think it matters? If he is gay and he is still a decent person and a success at what he does then it shows everyone that a person is not defined by their sexual preference, that it is just a part of the whole package that makes a person just that, a person.

I would like to say that his being a celebrity has nothing to do with this mess but it has a lot to do with said mess because he is in the public eye.

Regardless of Archuleta’s sexuality I wish him well in all his endeavors. I don’t like American Idol but I think it helps those that are talented get a step up in their up and coming career choice.