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Thursday, May 21, 2009

American Idol and the Intersections of Inequality

OK, so first off, this post isn't exactly about race (though tangentially it is)

Secondly, I'm not qualified to comment on it because it's about American Idol--specifically the finale last night and the result between the two finalists.

But I had nothing better to write about, and didn't want to lose my hordes of faithful readers by going 2 weeks without a post. So here goes.

Many of you hordes reading this will know that Kris Allen beat out Adam Lambert last night to be this year's AI winner. According to this post at, it could be that religion/ethnicity and sexual orientation/sexual identity played a role, conscious or unconscious, with voters. Seems a sensible suggestion to me. Kris is what Kelvin Lynch presumably aptly describes as "practically a poster boy for heterosexual, white-bread Christianity." In other words, the kind of guy older hetero viewers longed for their daughters to date or their sons to be more like, and that younger viewers longed to be or lusted to be with.

On the other hand, the heavily mascara-ed Lambert is what Lynch calls "an in-your-face Jewish gay man." Didn't try to hide his sexuality to make viewers more comfortable, but dared to be himself in all his glory. (Remember, Clay Aiken waited 5 years after Idol to come out, so fans in denial could suppose he was just a hetero man in touch with his tender side). As for the whole white-bread Jewish dichotomy, Jews stand apart from other ethnicities who were once considered different "races" from the Anglo-Saxon stock that dominated our nation's founding. While Italians, Swedes, Germans, Irish, Poles, and Greeks have been mainstreamed as just plain "whites" (albeit with a little pizazz), Jews, due to lower levels (although increasing all the time) of intermarriage, and the whole Saturday Sabbath/not into Jesus or the "New Testament" thing, remain "probationary whites," who still come under suspicion as conspirators to rule the world. Lord knows the crowing of a flamboyant Jewish gay as our nation's "Idol" would have caused conniptions in the hallowed halls of our nation's churches and country clubs, corporate boardrooms and legislative arenas. I guess the voters had that in mind when they spared us such a world-shattering outcome. Sigh.

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