Adam Lambert Disappears from ABC... But Why?
Word has come down that ABC has canceled two more appearances by Adam Lambert, leading some to question whether the network has a double standard. We've done a little research into the situation and discovered that when it comes to handling gay themes, ABC's policy is like night and day -- where gay themes on soap opera are just fine, but not so much during nighttime music performances.
Ever since the openly gay Lambert, who seized the attention of the nation with his second place finish on last season's 'American Idol,' appeared in a controversial live performance during this year's 'American Music Awards' ceremony two weeks ago, the singer has been under siege from those offended by a routine that included kissing a male dancer on stage. According to The New York Daily News, ABC, which aired the event, received over 1,500 complaints, leading the network to cancel a scheduled appearance by Lambert on 'Good Morning America.'
Now the singer has announced that ABC has also dropped two more scheduled appearances, including a live performance during their New Year's Eve special and an upcoming guest spot on Jimmy Kimmel's late night talk show. While the singer himself seems to be taking it in stride, insisting that fans shouldn't blame ABC because they are feeling "the FCC heat," it should be noted that the FCC does not regulate programming after 10 o'clock, meaning both of these latest cancellations would not have faced any scrutiny from the government regulatory office.
So why is ABC backing away from Lambert? At first glance it would appear to be a case of the network, which is owned by Disney, being uncomfortable with the overt homosexuality portrayed by the singer during his live performance. However, a deeper look at the network's programming suggests that there may be more to the situation than simple uneasiness over Lambert's gay lifestyle, as the network's own long-running daytime drama 'One Life to Live' has been at the forefront of bringing gay characters into mainstream television.
Indeed, the show has been featuring a gay love triangle around characters Kyle, Nick and Oliver for the past several months. And while there has been some backlash about the storyline (including, as TV Guide reported at the time, the departure of one cast member who apparently objected to the way it was unfolding), for the most part critics and fans have been supportive of the show -- as has ABC. Which begs the question, if the network is gay friendly during the afternoon, why is it shying away from Lambert' after hours?
From all appearances, then, the decision appears to the result of a double standard, not between gay and straight so much as between night and day. Afternoon programming, such as 'One Life to Live' and other soap operas, is low profile. Even if fans did object to the storyline, there are so few people watching, relatively speaking, that any controversy will be a small controversy, confined to the insular soap community. In prime time, though, especially on major specials such as the 'AMA''s and Dick Clark's 'New Year's Rockin' Eve,' the spotlight on both the performer and the network is so much brighter that ABC doesn't want to risk their family friendly image on anything that has the slightest hint of scandal.
Which to us sounds a little too much like the old fashioned type of double standard after all. Because as sensitively as 'One Life to Live' has portrayed their gay characters, as long as they are regulated to the afternoon -- and superstar acts like Adam Lambert are blacklisted from prime time -- daytime TV is just another kind of closet for gays to try to come out of.
Now if only the network will let them.
Lester Cohen, WireImage
George Napolitano, FilmMagic
Michael Caulfield, WireImage
Gustavo Caballero, Getty Images
Noel Vasquez, Getty Images
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