Kris Allen’s taking of the “Idol” title from Adam Lambert may seem like old news, but to say that would be to ignore the importance of dissecting the psychology of “American Idol” culture. What is most titillating about the wildly successful show is the predilections and biases of everyday Americans — the millions who vote each week — that it lays bare.
The Arkansas-bred, evangelical Christian, Kris Allen’s victory over the Jewish, androgynous, and perhaps the most skilled Idol contestant to ever compete, Adam Lambert (dubbed Glambert due to his makeup and costuming choices) seems ridiculous to anyone who cares about talent. The Jewish Journal’s Danielle Berrin who called “Idol” 8 the most “culturally polarized competition in the show’s history,” argues that this season was not about talent at all, instead it was consumed by who these singers were when the cameras stoppedrolling:
Beyond his trademark flamboyance, Lambert possesses a sexual ambiguity he’s hardly interested in dispelling: When photos of him dressed in drag and kissing other men leaked on the Internet, he responded with indifference: “I am who I am,” he said, and left his detractors to their own devices. And, if that wasn’t enough to jilt the evangelical crowd, Lambert is also Jewish. Allen, by contrast, is clean-cut and pristine looking. He wears t-shirts and jeans, sings sweetly and leads worship services at New Life Church back home. Allen is the all-American boy, as inoffensive (and unexciting) as vanilla cream pie.
Haaretz treads more lightly, simply referring to Allen as more provincial than Lambert:
Of the two finalists, Allen was more clean-cut. A devout Christian from Arkansas, he was a newly married college student before landing on American Idol.
Of course, the outsider sensibility is old hat to the Jewish experience. The funny folks at VH1’s Best Week Ever call Lambert’s otherness a boon for the Jewish people:
Jewish people have suffered through thousands of years of oppression and battled some of the most brutal forces in history. But, instead of setting it to music, as black people did with the blues, we just got really good with money. UNTIL Adam Lambert. Those screams you heard up there on that American Idol stage were not just the freakish skills of a young boy with a magical fairytale dream. They were the shrieks of the ghosts of our tragic history.
The comic, David Feingold, who blogs at FatJewishGuy.com takes it even further — stating that Lambert’s loss has greater international ramifications:
No way that American Idol will give up a chance to have a wholesome looking kid from Arkansas lose to a flaming Jewish drama queen from Los Angeles. But, Adam losing is not a good thing for this country or for that matter Israel.
Lambert’s loss bad for Israel? Doubtful, but here’s hoping for a Jewish “Idol” contestant next season so this discussion can continue.