Matt Dickman of Techno/Marketer wrote a great post about the fact that’s confusing many people about the 2009 American Idol finale. It seems that even though Adam Lambert ruled the numbers for search, since January, he lost the contest. Interestingly, these search stats had made clear and correct predictions in the past.
Sadly, in this case, I think a prominent reason that Adam had the search lead but not the final votes was hatred and intolerance.
Despite the fact that many of the musical greats of our time (and actors, artists, etc. – Elton John, anyone?) are gay – during this time when the right wing conservatives are fighting so hardily against the gay community – I think what we’re seeing are people searching to find out about his gayness and to talk about it and rail against it. There’s curiosity…and there’s power in numbers when it comes to both love and hate.
While Adam may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, there is no denying that his voice, musical mastery, stage presence, moves and ability to transform songs in ways we never could have imagined surpassed every other contestant. Kris Allen, himself, was even shocked and responded on live TV, “But Adam deserves this…” after he heard the news.
I know that certain groups sent out mass emails with pictures of Adam in make-up and drag, as well as images of him kissing another man asking, “Do we want this to be our American Idol?.” My 13 year-old neighbor told me that the middle school was abuzz with comments like, “I don’t want to listen to someone gay on the radio.”
Interesting that we, as a country, were able to elect a black President, but not a sexually ambiguous entertainer. Or maybe it isn’t interesting – cue Prop 8.
Even if the skewed search results weren’t completely due to the gay factor, we can’t forget the voyeur factor. He is wild, new, controversial and fascinating. The green pointy thing in a sea of cuddly pink. Whether you like him or not (and I really, really do), it’s hard not to watch, listen – and search Adam Lambert.
Update: Fantastic and like-minded post on the HuffPo: American Idol controversy: Adam Lambert Loses, Homophobia Wins