American Idol has some of the best auditions, if only because the potential contestants chat with the judges to usually hilarious results. And sometimes scandalous. Monday night's episode took a controversial turn, though, when Katy Perry kissed a teen on American Idol and people understandably have a lot of strong feelings about it. Romper's request for comment from Katy Perry's communications team was not immediately returned.
Here's what happened. Benjamin Glaze, 19 years old, was talking about the cute girls that he's potentially singing to in his songs or that give him inspiration. Judge Luke Bryan jokingly asked him if he'd ever "kissed a girl and liked it," referencing Perry's 2008 hit single. Glaze, noticeably nervous, laughed and said that he hadn't, since he said that he thinks you should be in a relationship before you kiss someone, as reported by People. He explained, "No, I’ve never been in a relationship. I can’t kiss a girl without being in a relationship.”
It was then that Perry and the third judge, Lionel Ritchie, started calling Glaze up to the table to give Perry a kiss on the cheek. He did, but it didn't make the classic "kiss sound" that Perry apparently wanted. She asked him to kiss her again on the cheek, and Glaze did so with some hesitation. It got awkward, at least for some viewers. While Glaze moved for the cheek, Perry quickly turned her mouth to him so he ended up right on her lips.
"I got him!," she cheered, while Bryan appeared to ask her if she really did it, to which she vigorously nodded her head and said that yes, she did. This is when things got even more uncomfortable.
The teen looked surprised and was smiling as he went back to his spot on stage. He asked for water and Perry actually kind of teased him for being nervous, as you can see in the full video below. While Bryan joked that the kid needed some breath mints, Ritchie walked over to Glaze to ask if he's alright while the teen gulped some water. Ritchie joked that having Katy Perry being your first kiss is a big deal and also appeared to comfort him at the same time. Glaze then performed for them and got eliminated. According to People, Perry told him:
I really enjoyed meeting you today. You gave my heart a flutter. I think you’re really sweet but truthfully, there are just some people that are outsinging you right now and so I don’t think it’d be fair to put you in that kind of competition. Next time just take your time. I think you were a bit rushed and I think that’s because I sped up your BPM of the heartbeat.
People on social media felt that it was very odd that 33-year-old Perry would kiss and flirt ("you gave my heart a flutter") with a 19-year-old teen on national television. Yes, 19 years old is over the age of consent, but when a superstar asks you right before an audition to kiss them, is it really consensual? And he had just said that he believes a person has to be in a relationship before smooching and was basically tricked into the peck. It wasn't the most sexual thing in the world, but that's what happens when someone doesn't feel totally comfortable with the situation.
Twitter Was Not Feeling It
These people have a point. And forget about the age, though that's something to consider for sure. If Bryan or Ritchie had done it to a female contestant, even their own age, people would lose their collective minds in an uproar. In this #MeToo moment, society is super in tune with spotting these kinds of non-consensual behaviors that come with one person asserting their power over another. When you have cameras on you, are trying out for a huge, life-changing role on television, and the judge of that asks you to kiss her, can anyone really consent? It's akin to the "casting couch" on many levels and it was unacceptable. Again, Perry has not yet publicly commented on the backlash the encounter has received.
Considering the backlash to the #MeToo movement itself and the double standards that are often in play when it comes to sexual harassment and gender (men can be victims, too), as many expressed on social media, it was irresponsible for Perry to ask for a kiss before his audition. No one should trick anyone into an "on-the-lips kiss," especially not one of the biggest stars in the business these days.
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