I don’t watch American Idol. I didn’t know who Adam Lambert was until AFTER he lost. Then, I watched the reruns and whatever videos I could find on Youtube mainly to understand why Sam was gaga over him. And I became a fan. Not of American Idol but of Adam Lambert. Since January when I bought a CD of Lambert’s album for Sam, we haven’t listened to anything when we’re on the road. I get LSS already but I still sing and dance in my seat.
When Sam announced a couple of months ago that Adam Lambert would be performing in Manila, we bought tickets as soon as they were available. The concert took place last night and, despite the crappy front act (a local band called Paraluman), we loved the show. Sexy, naughty, perfect. We were on our feet (everyone in the reserved seats sections was), I wanted to dance but it was hot and humid and cramped, and Sam was pressed against me because the stranger on her other side smelled like longganisa (rotten?), according to her.
When I woke up this morning, I was searching for feedbacks on the concert and found nothing in the news feeds. I was shocked, however, at the politics and brouhaha that preceded the concert. I had no idea. First, it appears that some quarters wanted the concert tagged “For Adults Only” because in previous concerts abroad, Adam Lambert had kissed males in the audience. Would these people react in the same way if Lambert were straight and he kissed females in the audience instead?
As it turned out, Lambert did not kiss anyone from the audience last night — he kissed his bassist, Tommy Joe Ratliff, on the lips while singing Fever. Too racy and out of place? Gee, if you knew Fever, the kissing was well within the context of the song. Like nudity in a love scene in a film. And how did the audience react? Lambert was cheered and I was among those that cheered. Guts, baby. GUTS. In spirit, I was also giving the Catholic Church the finger for its stand on homosexuality.
But Lambert’s sexuality was not the only issue that hounded his concert. There was the OPM group complaining about preferential treatment. According to OPM artist Ogie Alcasid (whose October 8 concert was caught between the shows of John Mayer and Lambert), the Mayer and Lambert concerts each got a P1 million discount in amusement tax while his own got none. Alcasid’s claim was denied by the organizers of Lambert’s concert.
Finally, there’s the issue of protectionism. Singer Gary Valenciano thinks that concerts by foreign artists should be spaced much farther apart because local artists are losing out on sponsorships.
And I go, WHOA! This sounds very much like the argument against the proliferation of foreign movies in local cinemas. As far as I’m concerned, if local movie producers would only give us better choices among the films they make, they shouldn’t have to worry about competition from foreign films. But the thing is, what do we get? With very few exceptions, the same old tried-and-tested formulas. Who really wants to go to the movie house to see an extension of the formula that pollutes the idiot box everyday? We see the same faces too.
As to Mr. Valenciano, gee, very little has changed in his act and moves over the last 25 years. Now that his star is waning, he inflicts his son on the public who mimics the same old Gary Valenciano dance moves — the kind made popular by Michael Jackson in the 80s. Are we all supposed to be happily caught in a time warp — in the name of nationalism?
I wish that the complaining parties wouldn’t hide behind the curtain of nationalism to rally the public to their side. As Speedy pointed out so succinctly over lunch today, it’s just about money. “Pera-pera lang ‘yan,” he said. And I wholeheartedly agree.
If the Philippine economy is prejudiced by the too many foreign movies and too many concerts by foreign artists, show us the figures and we’ll rethink everything. But for the public to have less choices in entertainment just so the local artists can earn more, I don’t see how that benefits ALL OF US in a manner that translates to nationalism. It sure pads the bank accounts of a few but not all of us.
I just don’t see the nationalist angle in that except the very shallow kind — the kind that says let’s be cliquish and clannish. I mentioned the front act in last night’s concert — a local band called Paraluman. Sure, the lead singer looked good — youthful and sleek in a tight black blouse and tight pants. But how was the performance? The singer didn’t connect with the audience; she didn’t even connect with her own musicians. There was no rapport. They didn’t act like a music band — they acted like strangers thrown together onstage. And I was supposed to applaud because, after all, they are fellow Filipinos? Gee, just to show you how bad they were — and they knew it because the crowd wasn’t paying attention — after the fourth song, the lead singer said, “Isa na lang po (One last song)” as though to explain and apologize for their continued presence onstage.
Entertainment is entertainment and we who pay for it like to get our money’s worth whether it’s film or books or music or stage performance.