This season of American Idol has been fully revived thanks to Katy Perry, but for all the success the host has had on the show, there's been a number of uncomfortable moments. Twitter was ablaze after the premiere following both Perry and contestant Noah Davis' use of the term "wig," and now some are questioning her decision to kiss another contestant, Benjamin Glaze, on the lips.
The kiss happened after judge Luke Bryan asked Glaze cheekily if he had kissed a girl and liked it, in reference to Katy Perry's early hit song. He had not.
"I have never been in a relationship and I can’t kiss a girl without being in a relationship," he told the judges.
Perry was charmed by this sentiment, but also took it as an invitation to go and kiss 19-year-old Glaze herself. Actually, she invited him to do the honours, but when he gave what she considered a lacklustre kiss on the cheek, she sneakily kissed him on the lips. In the moment, Glaze was aghast, and Perry was victorious. Now, a few months after the fact (auditions took place in October), Glaze tells The New York Times that the kiss was "a tad bit uncomfortable.
"I wanted to save it for my first relationship," he told the outlet. "I wanted it to be special."
There's no question that had Glaze been a woman and Perry a man, we would have condemned this as someone older and in a position of power taking advantage of a younger contestant, but because it's Perry, it's not immediately viewed as problematic. In fact, Glaze pointed out this double standard in his interview.
"I know a lot of guys would be like, ‘Heck yeah!’ But for me, I was raised in a conservative family and I was uncomfortable immediately," he said. "I wanted my first kiss to be special."
While the gender dynamic may be a grey area, one thing is clear: Glaze did not consent. He said up front that he did not kiss people he's not in a relationship with, and had she asked, he would have declined.
"Would I have done it if she said, ‘Would you kiss me?’ No, I would have said no," he told the Times. However, he also said that he does not feel like he was sexually harassed, and Perry doesn't seem uncomfortable with the incident, since she sent out this tweet during the premiere:
Other users reacted differently:
This is one of those things that stands out in a post-Weinstein world. Both men and women have come forward about sexual misconduct in their industries, and instances like this one that we may have never thought twice about are now re-examined with a new lens. If we want change, then we have to get rid of the double standard. This kind of behaviour goes both ways, and while it can get murky, a simple blanket rule should be that no one kisses anyone on television (or real life) without their consent.
Refinery29 has reached out to Katy Perry and ABC for comment.
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