Thursday, March 24, 2011

American Idol's Hug Of Shame, 2011 Edition. It just gets worse.

So when people ask me what the most popular post of all time on my blog is, the answer is my American Idol Hug Of Shame post.

I thought it was a really telling example of the heterosexist machinery of fame, and I had hoped that three years later, we'd moved on - maybe grown a bit, maybe matured, maybe graduated from the it's-only-okay-to-be-straight brainwashing of a show that has over 25 million viewers weekly. I mean, Adam Lambert came out as gay. Okay, after he was a contestant on the show, but still, I thought things might have changed.

I was wrong.

Last night, American Idol hit a new low. Get this.

So Jacob Lusk sings the heck out of his Motown song (You're All I Need To Get By) and after the judges praise him (and Steven Tyler leaps onto the stage to kiss him on the cheek and hug him, crying out "Baby Luther! Baby Luther!")

Then Jacob goes and kisses his grandmother on the cheek and they hug.

Still sweet right?

Then Ryan Seacrest invites everyone in the front row to come up and kiss and hug Jacob while Ryan runs down the voting numbers.

Count 'em.

One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. Eleven. Twelve girls.

Wait! There's a guy in the line.

And what happens?

Ryan puts out his hand and physically stops the guy from climbing the steps.

"I'm going to have to call it quits... Sir! I'm sorry, we're all out of time, Sir. (audience laughter) I know it's killing you, but I'm going to have to stop you there. Thank you very much."

Meanwhile, girl number thirteen slips by and gets in her "safe" heterosexual hug.

Wow, Ryan (and producers, and that audience!) Is it that horrible to consider that a guy fan would want to hug a guy singer? That funny a notion to consider? That among thirteen audience member hugs, one would be from a guy? Did Steven Tyler's embracing Jacob freak you out that much?

Think about it. 10% of America is queer. So 10% of the hugs on American Idol could be, too.

The studio wouldn't spontaneously combust. The sky wouldn't fall. You might even make me a fan of your show again.

But for now, I'm just angry with you.

Ryan's hand stopping that male fan was a hand stopping everyone different. It was the hand telling every gay kid out there that the only way to be accepted in our culture is to be straight. It was a moment that Gay-bashed our queer hopes and dreams.

Steven Tyler and Jacob's grandmother got in some lovely moments of celebration. But after that?

It wasn't just one hug of shame. It was thirteen.

What do you think? Am I making too much of this, or does this piss you off, too? Let me know.



sherambles said...

Ryan Seacrest is an ass. I wonder what he thought of Tyler's full-body embrace.

Pam Harris said...

I noticed the same thing last night and it really bothered me--but sadly, it doesn't surprise me. Ryan makes a lot of homophobic comments--especially when Simon was still judging.

Citysqwirl said...

Definitely noticed that. Ryan gets more self-hating every year.

Karol Ruth Silverstein said...

I, too, noticed the "hugs stops here" homophobic moment, but I have to say - the whole thing (after S-Ty & Grandma) was horribly awkward and fake. Ryan practically forced the audience members to come on the stage. It was awful all around and then ended on a "just when you thought it couldn't get more awful..." note. Ugh. Secrest should be OUT (yes - double meaning).

Deiter said...

Credit to Tyler for setting the tone; A tone Seacrest wasn't up to, apparently - The blame goes all to him.

My house isn't a big supporter of TV in general. The kids get to watch it only very selectively. They watch Glee, not Idol. Perhaps more people should do the same.

Rogerdebris said...

Yes! I noticed that too! And it was doubly annoying cause I thought that the singer might be gay so it might have been the only hug he would have enjoyed!

MotherReader said...

Honestly, I thought the whole hug thing was stupid and pandering. The judges like this guy and this got him a bit more attention. I didn't have the same reaction as you did about the guy hugging him. I felt like Ryan was looking for a way out about 15 seconds after he invited people up - realizing too late how hard and awkward it was going to be to cut people off. So maybe the reality is between our viewpoints, Lee. He did make it look like the guy was the problem, but it was more that he was throwing him under the bus to cover up the awkward way he was ending a bad idea.

Adrian said...

I remember this and thought it was so stupid of him to shoo away the male hugger.