Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Adam Lambert's A Patriot, Bill O'Reilly's A Pinhead

As a fan of Bill O'Reilly's, I'm not shy about "letting him have it," when I disagree with him. In that spirit, I sent him the following email:

Bill, you're a pinhead for calling Adam Lambert "this gay guy." There's much more to him, so stop defining him by one "over the top" performance. The fascinating thing about "this guy" is the thousands of older women who turn into screaming "teeny-boppers" when they see him perform! I think Ms. Walters is secretly a "Glambert," as they call themselves.

I kept it pithy, and tried to avoid bloviating, as any fan of "the Factor" knows to do, when emailing the show. However, I've been wanting to write about Adam for some time, well before the current AMA "controversy." O'Reilly's disparaging comments about him, while interviewing Barbara Walters last Wednesday night, seems to have given me the final bit of motivation I needed to actually write this. It's also a good starting point, given Bill's misinformed attitude, and how influential he is.

I am not, and have never been a fan of "American Idol." I enjoy watching the early "tryouts," for the mostly awful performances, on occasion, but I never tuned in to watch a specific performer, after they "get to Hollywood." Not to take anything from the talented people who have been on the show, but it all seemed a bit generic, to my taste. Most of what I know about them, and the show, comes from Page Six of the NY Post.

That all changed with a guy named Adam Lambert, and his version of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire." My GF saw it, and showed it to me on "Youtube," and I was blown away. After that, I started watching his performances almost every week, leading up to his second place finish in the season finale. There was already some controversy around him at this point, because he was clearly the best performer, yet he didn't win. Not being an "Idol" fan myself, I'll take Simon Cowell's word that Adam is the closest thing to what the show has searched for, in it's entire history.

Adam was bigger than "Idol," and Simon knew it. He was also that most unusual of "phenomenons," one who genuinely cared about the fans who gave him that status. My GF joined Adam's "official" fan site, and became one of his legions of "Glamberts." I saw, firsthand, the effect he has on these fans, and it's a good thing. He encouraged them to give to charity, and they responded overwhelmingly. He selected a long list of specific arts classes and programs that were in need of funding, from across the nation. It ranged from basic art supplies for an elementary school, to synthisizers for HS music classes, among other things. Every project was fully funded by people donating as "fans of Adam Lambert," and it was the most money ever raised from an "AI" contestant ($250,000 and counting: you can still donate at this link).

That's the first reason why I call Adam Lambert a patriot, which brings me back to Bill O'Reilly. The title of this column is a play on the title of one of his regular segments, "Pinheads and Patriots," where he basically cites a daily example of each. Often, he commends people as patriots for using their fame for charitable causes. Perhaps Adam wasn't on O'Reilly's "radar" yet, but he was on mine, and much of America's.

This brings me to the second reason I consider Adam a patriot: He's a true American success story. He's "put in his dues" for years, trying to get "the big break," if you'll pardon the cliches. No one should judge his entire career by his performance on the American Music Awards. It was not his best vocal performance, and I'll take his word that the "risque" elements were a "spur of the moment" idea. Both seem attributable to the anxiety and excitement of his first "post-Idol" national TV apperance. I've seen him perform, and know that his talent will overcome any adversity caused by the AMA show.

He's also a class act. My GF follows all things Adam, so I hear all about him, all the time. I've also watched most of his interviews, and I've never heard the man put down any of his multiple critics. He also goes out of his way to be accessible to his fans, both at live shows, and online. These are among the reasons that his fan support runs so deep, and I'm proud to include myself in that group. He's an all-around "patriot," in my book.

I'm also a huge fan of O'Reilly's, which is why I got so ticked off at his comments about Adam. I'll cite three comments he made: "That gay guy," "He trades on that," and the third was a reference to "send(ing) him to Iran." Bill, you have to know you came off like a pinhead with those first two, in the interview with Ms. Walters. You didn't give Ms. Walters a chance to say anything interesting about him, by setting up a stereotypical "straw man" for her to fight. Low blow, sir.

I think it was at the end of a story about Iran, when Bill made a quip that (I'm paraphrasing) "We should send that guy (Adam, who was discussed earlier) to Iran." O'Reilly gets a "double pinhead" for this one, because I had to do a theoretical psychoanalysis of him, to try to make it sound not offensive to the fans on Adam's official website (link):

Right now, Iran is having a liberal revolution, and people are dying in the streets for much lesser "offenses" than being homosexual. I suspect that, like most things American, Adam probably has a huge "underground" following in that nation. O'Reilly, for all of his apparent coarseness, is a pretty smart guy, so I think he knows this.

Adam symbolizes "gay culture" to O'Reilly, though that is a misinformed view. To his eye, our culture already accepts gays, while Pres. Ahmedinejad claims "there are no homosexuals" in Iran. In that context, I can see why he would want to "send" Adam to Iran. Perhaps such an "in your face" display, as in the AMA performance, is what Iran's gay population needs to rally around, to finally be heard.

You see, most of them interpreted what Bill said as wanting Adam put to death. That's not an unreasonable interpretation, either. I know, it was an off-the-cuff remark, but what were you thinking, Mr. O'Reilly? You frequently call Ann Coulter a "bomb thrower" on your show, and you make quips like this? Luckily, Adam doesn't exactly "trade on" his sexual orientation, having declined offers to become a gay spokesman. This gets back to the "class" factor. Adam didn't try to use the "gay outrage" card against O'Reilly. In fact, he hasn't even mentioned it, even when he was on "the View" (from what I hear: I haven't seen it yet).

Bill O'Reilly is known for his abrasive style, and his pomposity. I like that about him, esecially when I agree with him! Of course, when I can expose his "abrasive pomposity" as ill-considered, I'm gonna take a shot at him over it. When he unfairly attacks someone else that I am fan of, he gets both barrels. (Note: This column is "both barrels" of the "shot." I'm writing, here, not plotting!) I hope Mr. O'Reilly has had time to do more research on Mr. Lambert, and treat him in a truly "No-Spin" way.

Until then, everybody should listen to Adam Lambert's debut disc! Go beyond the controversy, and listen to him yourself. A good place to start is the Adam Official website. I also have to give a "shout out" to the fans there, who were a big help for me to discuss these issues with. They're a great community, supporting a great artist!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Swiss Culture War: Ban On Minarets

Well, this is an interesting story. The Swiss people, the ones who reflexively think of Americans as "bigots" or "racists," have just voted to ban "minarets" from being constructed on Mosques in Switzerland. Quel surprise! The polls said it only had 37% support, but it appears that people lied to the pollsters.

We've been here before, and to see Switzerland going through this is dismaying. In a free society, any religion can build any place of worship they like, subject to secular/cultural legal codes. The cultural aspect is the most chafing, because people are attached to the architecture of their habitat. Some may see minarets as a physical threat to that part of their culture.

Here in the US, there is no law against minarets. Muslims are free to build Mosques in any way they want, and they have. They have also adapted other buildings to this use, as all religions have done in this country. I understand that the Swiss don't have as diverse a population as the US, but their government acts as if it is the "perfectly secular state."

That's why this "news flash" is important. The opposition isn't from zealous Christians, but from gay activists, atheists, and women's rights advocates. The Swiss are re-learning that they still need the support of the people, which they don't have. The EU is going to step in and "fix" this, supposedly.

They're in for a rough ride. Whether the EU bureaucrats prevail, reversing the minaret ban, or not, this is part of a larger cultural wave throughout Europe. If we are free, we have to assert freedom for all who live under our laws. Let Muslims build mosques, but forbid sharia law, except where it comports with Western civil and criminal law.

I disagree with Switzerland's ban on minarets, but understand why they voted for it. There are larger issues at work here, and the Swiss people are "sending a message," politically. Was it "bigoted," "racist," or "anti-Islamic?" Or was it "pro-secular Swiss?" The answer lies in the cultural realm. Gay, atheist, and women's rights advocates are in confrontation with Islamic culture. This is just the latest front in that confrontation.

Would Switzerland allow a Christian group to build several huge new churches, in the style of St. Peter's Bascilica in Rome? Probably not, and not just because there is no demand for it. Europe sees such displays of religious-inspired architecture as a relic of the past. They associate it with corruption and oppression, which is precisely why they voted against the minarets.

Here is the reporting I found on this:

Swiss Ban Mosque Minarets in Surprise Vote - ABC News

Swiss Approve Constitutional Ban on Mosque Minarets ...

Swiss voters back minaret ban: report Reuters