Time for a short quiz for our readers. Based on what you know about religion, news and religion in the news, do you think that, when meditating on Adam Lambert's performance on the American Music Awards, cultural conservatives in this great nation of ours are upset about:
(1) The "spontaneous" smooch that the American Idol star deposited on his male keyboard player.
(2) The "spontaneous" moment when Lambert grabbed one of his male dancers and had him simulate an act of oral sex on the singer.
(3) The fact that the openly gay Adam Lambert exists in the first place and is poised to become a superstar, in part due to his ability to generate headlines.
(4) All of the above.
I don't know about you, but I'm thinking that the most truthful answer is No. 4.
If that is the case, then I think this Los Angeles Times story about the controversy is rather interesting, in terms of what it discusses and what it chooses not to discuss. Here's the headline: "Controversy surrounds Adam Lambert's canceled appearances -- A conservative group says his AMA performance was 'indecent and inappropriate.' "
And is religion involved in this story by reporter Maria Elena Fernandez? Of course it is.
Let's take it from the top:
The decision by ABC to cancel Adam Lambert's upcoming appearance on the late night show "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and to remove him from the potential roster of New Year's Rockin' Eve performers continued to create controversy Thursday, as a conservative Christian group defended its decision to protest Lambert's sexually suggestive performance last month at the American Music Awards.
The Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit public interest law firm closely tied to the late Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in Virginia and provides legal assistance in defense of what it calls "Christian religious liberty, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family," filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission over Lambert's controversial performance at the AMAs. In it, the group called on the FCC to fine ABC for "airing such an outrageously lewd and filthy performance during a show and time period that is targeted for family audiences."
Kimmel's show airs well after the 10 p.m. cutoff for FCC regulation of indecent material. But Matt Barber, Liberty Counsel's director of cultural affairs, noted that Lambert's AMA performance aired at 9:55 p.m. Central Standard Time and may have been seen by children and teenagers.
So what did these conservative Christians find so objectionable in this televised performance? What content did they find objectionable in family-viewing hours?
On Nov. 24, Liberty Counsel filed a complaint with the FCC against ABC contending that Lambert's American Music Awards performance two days earlier was "obscene" and "indecent." Although ABC did receive about 1,500 complaints from viewers about Lambert's sexually suggestive performance, which featured the singer kissing another man, Lambert fans have in turn complained about ABC's decision to cancel "GMA" and now Kimmel.
Many of Lambert's supporters, including the Advocate, celebrity blogger Perez Hilton and AfterElton.com, believe he is being targeted because he is a gay male. They note that Janet Jackson, who opened the AMAs, grabbed the crotch of a male dancer but that was not subjected to the same kind of scrutiny.
Now, a Liberty Counsel representative said that the "over-the-top homoeroticism," including "public hyper-sexualized acts," in Lambert's performance led to their FCC complaint.
This is where things get interesting, in terms of the content, and lack thereof, in the Times story:
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation issued a statement ... saying that, after discussions with ABC executives, the organization was convinced there were no homophobic motives behind the cancellation of Lambert's appearances.
"It would appear that the kiss between Adam Lambert and his keyboardist did not factor into ABC's decision," said Jarrett Barrios, president of GLAAD. "ABC has a history of positive gay and transgender inclusion that includes featuring kisses between gay and lesbian couples on-air."
So male-on-male kisses are now old hat. But wait, that isn't all that GLAAD had to say. Let's look at the statement, as paraphrased in another source, as in Gawker.com:
Didn't see this coming: GLAAD has released a statement approving ABC's decision to cancel two Adam Lambert appearances in the wake of his controversial AMA performance. Glambert was not cut for kissing a man and simulating oral sex on stage, they explain, but because he did so without telling anyone he was going to do it. It means he can't stay on script, which is a fate that perhaps befalls stars who get their start in quasi-reality show settings. GLAAD buys ABC's excuse, noting that the network lets gays, lesbians, and trannies kiss on air from time to time (Go, Ugly Betty, go).
Here is my main question: It seems that the Times doesn't want to print the details of just how far Lambert went, while the live, family-time cameras were turned on (so to speak). Those Christian fundies are just upset about that male-on-male kiss, not the kiss and simulated oral sex.
Is the Times copy desk almost as squeamish as the folks at the Liberty Counsel office? Wouldn't it be better if readers -- in Los Angeles, of all places -- knew that there was more to this complaint than the kiss? Or would that make the complaint sound less, well, crazy and fundamentalist? I mean, it does not appear that the newspaper is afraid of printing references to this kind of sexual activity, including in coverage of Lambert.
So why not provide the facts about the Liberty Counsel complaint?
Just asking. ...
PHOTO: Adam Lambert in action on the American Music Awards, taken from Gawker.