Andrew Belonsky

Chris Brown, Adam Lambert, and Mixed Messages: How Do We Judge ABC?

Filed By Andrew Belonsky | March 31, 2011 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: Adam Lambert, American Music Awards, Chris Brown

Chris Brown, a singer who was convicted of assaulting ex-girlfriend Rihanna, appeared this ABCLogo.jpgweek on Dancing with the Stars, a show that airs on ABC, the very same network that previously banned out entertainer Adam Lambert for his "scandalously" gay performance at the American Music Awards.

Should ABC be shamed for what appears to be a double standard?

Some people say "yes," and such a reaction's superficially understandable: it is queer, after all, for ABC to willingly host abusive Brown while prohibiting Lambert for a performance in which he innocently kissed another man. The popular website AfterElton, for example, described the decision as a "display of hypocrisy."

A deeper look at ABC's actions and record, though, muddles this seemingly straight-forward scenario.

ABC was without a doubt wrong when they enacted their 2009 Lambert ban, which cut the singer from Jimmy Kimmel Live!, as well as the network's New Year's Eve celebration. And tacitly condoning Brown's behavior only makes the network's decision appear even more offensive.

The fact of the matter, however, is that ABC eventually lifted the restrictions on Lambert - he has since performed on The View - and that the network has a track record of airing LGBT-inclusive shows, including Brothers and Sisters, Modern Family and Desperate Housewives.

So how do we judge them? Should the network be shamed for allowing Brown to perform while at least temporarily banning a gay singer for kissing another man, or do we weigh the network's overall acceptance of LGBT characters? That's for each individual viewer to decide.

If you ask me, though, the Lambert and Brown scenarios aren't exactly analogous. Again, ABC lifted its discriminatory Lambert prohibitions and continues to cast gay characters in its popular television shows. Brown, meanwhile, continues to display violent, destructive behavior, and most recently threw a window-breaking tantrum after a host from the network's Good Morning America asked him about his girlfriend-beating.

The issue isn't only that Brown was asked to perform on Dancing with the Stars, but that he's welcome anywhere in the entertainment world. He's shown little progress on the anger management front and allowing him to perform translates into acceptance of his violent ways.

Lambert doesn't even need to be injected into this debate, because the decision to host Brown is so flat-out wrong that it doesn't even need a comparative analysis. It's open and shut. So, yes, ABC deserves slack for accepting Brown, but not because of their past controversies with Lambert.

ABC logo via Daemons TV.


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Totally agree. We don't need comparisons to know that excluding Adam Lambert for being too gay was wrong and promoting a very unapologetic Chris Brown is wrong as well.

Misogyny is still very much acceptable in big media because it's the way the various media industries operate.

One only has to look at Charlie Sheen to understand the media's tolerance for misogyny. He has a long history of domestic violence and it hasn't hurt him one bit.

Agreed. Andrew's lines really stood out here:

The issue isn't only that Brown was asked to perform on Dancing with the Stars, but that he's welcome anywhere in the entertainment world. He's shown little progress on the anger management front and allowing him to perform translates into acceptance of his violent ways.

Get your facts straight. Lambert is still banned from ABC 1 1/2 years later He only appeared on the View because he had been chosen by Barbara Walters as one of her 10 most Fascinating persons of 2009, and booked previously. They prerecorded his visit, which aired the same week as the AMA's, the day following Barbara's 10 most Fascinating Show. He has not appeared on ABC since.

ABC has not lifted the ban on Lambert entirely. They still have not allowed him to interview or perform live. And, he's been on other networks live countless times without incident. The double standard remains.

@Kris I remember too, when Adam Lambert was on the View, Barbara made a big deal about his interview having to be pre taped in order to be allowed to air. So ridiculous. And while he has performed live on both CBS and FOX (not sure about NBC, I know he's been on Jay Leno multiple times, but I think it's typically pre taped anyway) in the meantime, he has yet to perform live again on ABC. He has not been rebooked on GMA or Jimmy Kimmel. Or New Years Rockin Eve for that matter.