Friday, May 22, 2009

New Videocast: Is Adam Lambert's Androgyny a Text of Anxiety?

In this piece of Gendering the Media with Brikena Ribaj, I thought I would talk about the text of androgyny and the anxiety it may inspire.

The questions I raise are: Does the text of androgyny inform anxiety? Why?

I talk about American Idol, Pat Buchanan, make-up and eyeliner, and of course, literary theory. Because they all go so well together, I find.

Incidentally, I do not watch American Idol but I did notice the healthy amount of press that Adam Lambert generated. Naturally, I was curious and made it a point to see snippets of the finale.

The text of gender was indeed worthy an episode, I found.

You may view this new episode here.

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JJ said...

I also think that his 'different' look had much to do with the results.
Androgyny makes many anxious and that's because it doesn't seem to 'reside' in one certain realm. I agree with that point, too.

Tina said...

And who said that gender doesn't sell?!

Dana said...

Right. If he had the same voice he's got but a different look, I don't think he would have received the kind of attention he has.

Anonymous said...

I don't watch AI either but this performer was mentioned a lot in the media. I also think that the reason why he received so much attention was because of his gendered text.

wil said...

At the same time though, it could also be said that getting used to newer cultural expressions takes time. And between the two of the finalists, the performer who won seems to espouse a mode idol-istic look//style.

Anonymous said...

Or it could also be that he is being used as a sign/text to promote the 'other.' Even though his look is unique, his voice is closer to the mainstream, actually.

Anonymous said...

Or it could also be that he is being used as a sign/text to promote the 'other.' Even though his look is unique, his voice is closer to the mainstream, actually.

Sra said...

I usually enjoy watching AI, but I missed this season completely and have never heard either of the finalists sing, but I had seen pictures of Lambert plastered around the internet, and I suppose all the commotion was about his looks and dubious sexuality.

I actually didn't think he looked too different, at least nothing to write home about. Androgyny of his type has been floating around the music world since at least 2003, and I don't even bat an eye at it anymore. (Although for awhile I was a little mad that men were stepping in and stealing my hairstyles, but I guess it's only fair ;) I think the reason people made a big deal out of him is because he's in the popular/mainstream realm and not the punk/rock/emo/indie realm where his styling has been prevalent for years. Pop is supposed to be clean-cut and according to stereotypical standards, or at least that's the default expectation.

So when I originally read this post before seeing the podcast, I thought you were talking about how his androgyny belies his own anxieties, and I agreed after having seen a recent clip of him on some TV show declaring that he's gay and has been very comfortable with that for a long time. I didn't exactly buy his claim of comfort, because to me he looked scared. Which could be true, or just my impression, but I know that sometimes you have to play the part until you truly believe it.

As for the rest of our anxieties, I kind of think that people are naturally drawn to the androgynous because I think most of us are closer to the middle of the spectrum than the extremes anyway, but not all of us are comfortable with this, and so maybe that's the source of anxiety caused by androgyny. Some of us don't want to understand it or identify with it.

Just my thoughts.