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With Ellen DeGeneres On Board, Is Idol Going Gay Friendly? Or Are Future Adam Lamberts Cursed?

At first brush, after reading comments from American Idol Season 5 runner-up Katharine McPhee, whose second single “Love Story” we actually didn’t mind, we wondered, “Has this girl ever met Adam Lambert?” That’s because she was there, in an interview with a chintzy nightlife magazine, going on about how gay Idol contestants should stay in the closet if they have any hope of advancing. And that’s when we read her subsequent remarks, about how contestants should keep almost all of their personal lives locked up from the audience.

Idol, which after this season says goodbye to Simon Cowell, is the rare reality show that actually hides most of what goes on backstage and in the personal lives of contesants. In the era of Real World and Survivor, Idol helped shape the American reality singing contest marketplace, and did so by keeping the cameras rolling only during the live broadcast, letting viewers see the stage only. (Okay, rehersals with celebrity guests are also aired.) Unless a contestant’s personal life winds up leaking via MySpace or YouTube (as it did with McPhee and Lambert), there is never much personal information released outside Idol‘s very, very carefully manicured image making. That’s why we knew through the show that Idol winner Kris Allen was married, but not that Adam Lambert had a boyfriend (that, we learned on MySpace.)

So when McPhee says to NightTimez magazine (via) that, despite Ellen DeGeneres joining the show, Idol isn’t about to become the most gay friendly environment, she also argues it’s not the most friendly environment for any personal details that might distract fans from the singing. Revealing your sexuality on the show is “a tricky thing I can only compare to someone who’s really spiritual or religious: You don’t need to wear your religion on your sleeve. The competition is not about your faith or your sexuality but about you as an artist.” She adds: “Look, I think everyone knew Adam Lambert was gay. I don’t feel it was a big surprise, and I think Adam did the right thing by coming out with that Rolling Stone cover. He was just as flamboyant on the show as he is now, but anytime you say too much about your personal stuff, it can hinder you in the competition. If people saw the pictures of me being crazy in college with my gay friends and my girlfriends, they’d probably think differently of me on the show. So it’s a fine line you have to follow on a reality show competition when all of America is voting.”

It’s not about being the gay one on the show. It’s about being the anything one on the show, where any personal allegiance or identity can be a liability. McPhee’s argument: Sing your songs, and let your talent stand for itself, and don’t go confusing the voting audience with your personal life. Choose your American Idol, then, based on who’s the best singer, not who’s overshared on the Internet.

By:           editor editor
On:           Jan 12, 2010
Tagged: , , , ,
  • 19 Comments
    • TheOtherGuy
      TheOtherGuy

      I have to agree with McPhee here. Lambert’s sexuality has been put out there so much that I associate him more so with that than his own music. Just as I wouldn’t want my friends to define me by my sexuality, I wouldn’t want my career to be defined by it either.

      Jan 12, 2010 at 3:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • TheOtherGuy
      TheOtherGuy

      Just to explain a bit more: Of course I am happy that he officially came out, even when it was painfully obvious, but he (or at least bloggers and those marketing him) have made it the only noteworthy thing he has going on. I look forward to the day when a celebrity being gay isn’t a news story.

      Jan 12, 2010 at 3:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Gurlene
      Gurlene

      Well hush my mouth! Now I get it. You can be an absolute talentless joke (joke as in bad taste)such as Sanjaya Joseph Malakar (6th season) and make it as far as he did but you can not be gay, able to sing (as Adam Lambert clearly could) and god forbid been swept up in a police sting (cruising the park or video stores looking for consensual sex and not hustlers)or just come right out and say your gay because the bible thumpers will bring down the wrath of……….Lord O lord, thank you Adam Lambert for doing what you did during your last tv performance.

      Nothing personal kids, but American Idol is finished. Their insistance on “clean cut, wholesome American images” is what did their asses in as far as I am concerned. Imagine how many poor souls out there who could sing but lost out because of some b/s such as hopping a subway turnstile or possesion of half a joint is going to haunt them the rest of their lives.

      But the good thing is that at least a gay dancer can be themselves on “So You Think You Can Dance”, if it is still on. Is it? I sure hope so. One of the dancers last year even posted his posterior on http://www.guyswithiphones.com (it was cuter than his face too). But it didn’t take anything away from his superior dancing skills and the audience already knew he and the other male finalist were gay.

      Only in America can you find absolute torture on one station, Dr’s. Phil and Oz, Tyra Banks, everyones favorite drag queen Wendy Williams (her show sucks) and American Idol (suicide by default) while finding gay happiness on the other such as So You Think You Can Dance and Rupauls Drag Race 2. Only in America folks. God, do I love my country.

      Jan 12, 2010 at 6:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • scott ny'er
      scott ny'er

      i can’t really disagree with McPhee. She makes a good point. Let your singing gain you the votes. Unfortunately, it’s also a popularity contest and thus the background info does help.

      Jan 12, 2010 at 6:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • RomanHans
      RomanHans

      I’d love to hear Queerty’s take on Randy Jackson’s latest announcement. In fact, it seems to have slid straight under the gay media radar.

      ————————-

      There won’t be anyone quite like Adam Lambert on the next season of “American Idol.”

      Easygoing “Idol” judge Randy Jackson told reporters during a Friday teleconference that he expected to see clones of the over-the-top eighth season runner-up or even croony champion Kris Allen show up to audition for the Fox talent competition’s ninth season, which premieres Tuesday (8 p.m. EST), but there were none to be found this time around.

      “Usually, whoever comes in first or second, that next season of auditions, you have a lot of those kinds of people,” he said. “It’s almost like a signal to everyone at home that was like them that now it’s time to try out for ‘American Idol.’ It didn’t happen like that this time. We got a very interesting, unique cast that’s only unique to this season nine.”

      ———————-

      Here’s what I know.

      1. Before a TV show or movie debuts, all its stars run from reporter to reporter saying things they think will get people to watch.

      2. No Adam Lamberts this time, kids!

      Jan 12, 2010 at 6:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • dontblamemeivotedforhillary
      dontblamemeivotedforhillary

      American Idol is going out with a whimper!

      Simon Cowell’s exit is it’s death knell!

      Randy Jackson is the dumbest, drunkest judge that should have gone long before Paula!

      Paula will get the last laugh even though we laughed at her strange sentence structures and being high!

      Ryan Seacrest has the personality of an awkward gay child, Brian Dunkelmman was always much more wittier and never looked caught like a deer in the headlights at Simon’s cajoling of Ryan’s obvious closeted homosexuality…

      Ellen is the savior of this last season and won’t return EVER without risking her own brand name!

      Adam Lambert used Idol to launch his now-massive career with a critically acclaimed album fast going platinum and more collaborations than all the winners past and present combined!

      Gays may have lost the last battle, but we win the War!

      Fox is losing it’s Cash Cow and only has Glee and the Simpsons and an uncertain X-Factor! At least it’s not NBC!

      Who’s Kris Allen?

      Who killed Taylor Hicks?

      Reality TV is officially dead from it’s own success and the other networks will wake up to television Killing Fields!

      Pass the popcorn, bitches!

      Jan 12, 2010 at 7:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • dontblamemeivotedforhillary
      dontblamemeivotedforhillary

      And the homophobia begins with the first “butch lesbian” type with a few perception problems…..Ellen should be ashamed to be associated with this show!

      Jan 12, 2010 at 8:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • dontblamemeivotedforhillary
      dontblamemeivotedforhillary

      …and the second “freak” contestant, a possibly high effeminate guy singing “Womanizer”

      A 2 out of 3 batting average for homophobia, American Idol. Racism is just around the corner…

      Jan 12, 2010 at 8:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • terrwill
      terrwill

      No. 6 · dontblamemeivotedforhillary: Touche” excellent summation of the show. They never should have got rid of Dunkleman. I saw the English version with the Dec and Leck (whatever the names are) and much prefered it to Miss Ryan Seacrest all alone…..
      Howeva as are you, I am watching tonite, its still a great guilty pleasure……….

      I am going to send a copy of your post to Miss Seacrest, I am pretty sure she will cry!…. : P

      Jan 12, 2010 at 8:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • christopher di spirito
      christopher di spirito

      Ellen will be a drag on the show. She’s a dreary woman and her style of humor leaves me cold.

      None of matters because Simon is leaving and will launch an American version of the X-Factor in 2011. Sources say he’s in talks with Paula Abdul to join the show and bring her unique style of crazy. If Randy joins the cast, American Idol will close up shop.

      Jan 12, 2010 at 11:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dasher
      Dasher

      Katharine MacPhee is right. Just to add to what she said, American Idol is pretty much a “Red State” phenomenon. To win, you have to be from the Bible Belt (the only exception being Jordin Sparks from American Idol Season 6, who is from Arizona). If you’re not a totally sanitized, bland, non-controversial Good Ol’ Boy, you ain’t gonna win. Going by singing talent, MacPhee should have won season 5, but she was from Los Angeles, so she couldn’t win. Some guy from Alabama named Taylor Hick(s) won instead of her. That state has already had at least two winners. American Idol is a reality show and has a voting system that invites fraud. Adam Lambert should have won Season 8, but couldn’t, because he’s from California. Many think he’s the best singer the show has ever had in its 8 seasons, and one of the most gracious and likeable contestants too.

      Jan 13, 2010 at 1:32 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Lukas P.
      Lukas P.

      Why a 4th judge? I still don’t understand why they need Ellen–she’s is fine chat show host, but it’s not like she is a musician or producer. No way could she replace Chesty Cowell. This baffles me. Why they need Rhianna Seacrest there also stumps me.

      Kat McPhee was one of the better singers despite her tech. “problems.” Very classy performer. Fantasia Barrino was my favorite vocally at the time, but she’s been awfully quiet since she “graduated” from Idol.

      Jan 13, 2010 at 2:31 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Melisende
      Melisende

      Kat McPhee is full of beans. Lots of time is devoted to contestant back stories if their wife died, if they have a handicap, if family members have a handicap, if they are single parents or struggling financially because they can’t support their families, etc. And the religious contestants usually make sure their affiliation is known because they want the Bible Belt Middle America vote.
      However, if you’re gay you better keep THAT back story hidden. Adam didn’t expect to get as far as he did and the people who voted for him where the ones who cared passionately about seeing an incredible vocalist and performer win and didn’t give 2 figs about his sexuality. Too bad there weren’t enough of us.

      Jan 13, 2010 at 4:00 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • romeo
      romeo

      The contestants that made it to Hollywood on last night’s show were all predictable and generic. Perfect for red state mediocrity. I won’t be watching any more of the show, partly on principle and mostly because it’s going to be a thudding bore.

      The only hightlight of last night’s show was from a contestant that didn’t make it, the one with the mesmerizing ass. Even I could appreciate that. Thought Randy’s eyeballs were going to fall out of their sockets when she was walking away. Girl must have been taking lessons from a drag queen because she definitely knew how to walk in a pair of heels! Totally doesn’t need no American Idol to be a success in life! LOL

      Jan 13, 2010 at 12:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dasher
      Dasher

      @13 Melisende — There may have been enough of us voting for Adam for him to win, but hackers blocked his phone lines for at least an hour (I tried to vote for him, but got a busy signal, and finally gave up and went to bed). Also, an American Idol sponsor provided free telephones at Kris Allen voting parties in Arkansas where time zone differences were not a factor, allowing voters to vote for Kris for an expanded time period that was not available to Adam voters. Not a level playing field. Kris Allen is talented and charming, and a decent enough performer. But don’t be surprised if Adam outsells him by a margin of 2-to-1 or more. And of course people voted against Adam because of his sexuality; the show is geared to redneck America.

      Jan 13, 2010 at 3:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • romeo
      romeo

      @ Dasher – LMAO !!!

      Were you in a coma for the last six months?

      Jan 13, 2010 at 9:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • sheila
      sheila

      I really really like Ellen on the show! She is funny and smart! She rocks! I can’t wait for Simon to leave the show. Simon sucks! I can’t stand his comments and his same old stupid t shirts and farty looking jeans.

      Feb 16, 2010 at 11:54 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • dontblamemeivotedforhillary
      dontblamemeivotedforhillary

      I like Ellen but this may damage her brand name as she is sometimes rather cold with letdowns. Paula used the art of distraction with Simon to soften the blow of the clearly untalented performer. The funny, beating around the bush Ellen is her schtick!

      Feb 17, 2010 at 12:12 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • VenincammaDic
      VenincammaDic

      ???? ?????? ???? ????? ???????? ??????? ???????? ???????? ????? · ???? ? ????? · ?????? ?????? ?????? ??????? ?????? ?????? ???????? ???????? ?????
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      ?? Slimmers ?? ??????? ??? ??????, ?????? ? ?????????? ? ???????, ??????????? ?????? ? ??????, ???, ??????????, ?????????? ??????? ? ??????????????.
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      Jul 15, 2011 at 2:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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