Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Big Bad Night

POPSURFING.COM: "Idol" -- Mandisa's Anti-Gay Song Intro

I won't let this turn into a weekly thing, but last night's episode of American Idol is worth a few comments. The show managed to follow one of the best weeks of performances with what was, by my reckoning, the worst in the last three years.

There was an interesting subtext to the night: We got to find out what a lot of the contestants really believe. Chris Daughtry really believes that crappy bands like Live and Creed are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Lisa Tucker thinks she's as good as Kelly Clarkson. And Mandisa...

Well, Mandisa believes that God is bigger than your "addiction, lifestyle, or situation."

Fine, right? Except that, based on Mandisa's previous comments, we know that she's a born-again Christian. If you've heard or read my raves about her performances, you know I haven't cared about that; I think she's one of the better singers in the competition and I was rooting for her to go far. But "lifestyle" is born-again, evangelical code for "gay." And Mandisa threw it into the same sentence as addiction. Has she been taking lessons from Trent Lott?

Seriously, this is disappointing. I know that plenty of people have a problem with homosexuality (a Tribune article today says 50 percent of the population considers homosexual behavior immoral), but I like to think that, at the very least, we've reached the point where it isn't couth to shout about it on national television. But the link to PopSurfing above proves that I wasn't the only one who heard the code word and reacted. By picking a gospel song, Mandisa appealed to the millions of people who believe in Christianity. By using the code of a militant minority of those Christians to position herself on their side of a cultural divide, though, she primed herself to get the votes of evangelicals who will think she "shares their values," as the Bush-voter formulation goes.

For that reason, I hope Mandisa gets the boot tonight (DialIdol has her fourth to last but within the margin of error to finish last, right about where lil' Kevin was last week), before those who would see this as a positive development have time to marshal the troops in her favor. Whatever she thinks or believes about my "lifestyle," she should have kept her mouth shut. Unless she offers some sort of "My-best-friend-is-gay-and-that's-not-what-I-meant" explanation, she's lost my vote.

[UPDATE, 4:17 P.M.: The Advocate has noticed this, too, and points out that Beth Moore, the woman who Mandisa calls her American Idol because she inspired her to live more like Jesus, included a passage in one of her books that depicts homosexuality as a temptation brought on by Satan to a girl who has an abusive relationship with her father. Not that this proves anything, but when you're a fan of the author of books with titles like Breaking Free: Making Liberty in Christ a Reality in Life, I guess there's a better than even chance in my mind that you agree with her about gay people.]

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