Is anyone else following American Idol? They all seem to merge into one now, with the usual round up of nerds, divas, punk grrrls and white-bread R&B wannabes. But there's someone standing out this year, and it seems like our friends across the pond just don't know what to do with themselves (which reminds me, isn't it time for another Burt Bacharach week?)
His name is Adam Lambert, and he's a fantastically talented showman, combining the thick-set good looks of Brendan Fraser with the voice of Axl Rose. He's made some weird song choices, he's got a rockier edge than you'd expect and he can be self-indulgent at times. But from the first of the live shows, he's quite rightly been earmarked as the one to beat. However, there's a hitch - it seems Adam might be one of the 'boyz'.
Here in the UK, we wear our 'not that there's anything wrong with that' with pride. Hell, we even voted one as our first Pop Idol, although he rather cannily waited until after he'd won to announce it. So what will America do? It's tempting to think that, since they managed to vote an African American into the White House, things have changed for the better. But don't bet on it.
Think of Clay Aiken, who came second in season 2. He weathered countless veiled references to his 'theatrical' style, but he was expected to keep 'that' side of his life a secret. When he finally came out last year, his fans were not happy. One vocal blogger commented that they would no longer listen to his bestselling Christmas album, saying "I can't listen to him singing O Holy Night, knowing that he desires unholy nights".
The difference with Adam is that he seems to be unapologetically gay. Currently, it's big news that there are photos on the internet of him kissing guys. Shocking, I know. But the reaction of right-wing blowhards like Bill O'Reilly, tells us why Adam will have to fight to achieve what should be a foregone conclusion. After showing a coyly cropped version of one of these incriminating photos, O'Reilly asks whether Adam's gayness "will have an effect of the program." The answer is, of course not. But let's not forget that someone else has a hand in all of this.
Take a bow, Rupert Murdoch. The ruthless media mogul owns News Corp, which happens to own the Fox News Channel (which Bill O'Reilly calls home) and Fox, the channel that broadcasts American Idol. Incidentally, News Corp also recently tried to initiate a boycott of Home & Away in Australia, outraged by the prospect of a lesbian kiss. I guess Rupert just doesn't like the gays.
So let's just hope that for the second time in recent memory, democracy manages to trump right wing media influence.