The American Idol episode where Katy Perry kissed a teenager has given rise to conversation about abuse of power by women. In the wake of #MeToo, people are more aware of what constitutes sexual harassment. While it is men with power who come under our frequent and intense scrutiny, this case seems to have turned the tables on the gender aspect of power abuse.
Tricking a 19-year-old boy into a kiss on the lips is sexual harassment as well.
When 19-year-old American Idol contestant Ben Glaze told the judges that he had never kissed a girl, he specifically told them that he was saving his first kiss for his first girlfriend
So, when Perry called him near her, she was aware of this fact. She offers her cheek, but then literally tricks the poor fellow into a kiss on the lips, by turning her head at the last moment.
Many people are asking whether this would have been the so-called cute television moment if genders were reversed? Tricking someone in such a situation is wrong across genders and age brackets. The fact that people have to reverse genders and ages, to point out how inappropriate Perry’s kiss was, also highlights how we trivialise male sexual harassment.
Abuse of power and celebrity entitlement
Just a few months ago, we witnessed a similar incident, when a video of singer Papon kissing a minor female reality show contestant raised questions on celebrity conduct. Katy Perry’s decision to kiss Glaze shows similar celebrity entitlement. Power and widespread adulation fill celebrities up with numerous misconceptions. One of them is that their display of affection towards common folk comes under the category of normal awe-inspiring behaviour.
How could fan not want a kiss from THE Katy Perry? How could public find a celebrity singer kissing his minor protégé as inappropriate? Isn’ this what every commoner dreams of?
This goes on to highlight that abuse of power sometimes originates from celebrities feeling loved and adored by all. However, it is still wrong. Hence in a way, the Papon and Perry controversy are a shrill wake-up call to celebrities who are only used to adulation from fans. Consent is a very different thing from adulation. A fan who might want your autograph or appreciate your talent might not want to get physically involved with you. So they should take a cue and learn to mind their behaviour.
In a recent video, Glaze has said he did know that he had a good chance of walking up there and getting kissed on the lips.
This puts show executives and TV networks in bad light. They deliberately edited the incident in a way which would garner more TRPs
Television shows have massive reach among viewers, hence they need to learn to send out responsible messages. Showing scandalous content guised as cute content is going to backfire in a world post #MeToo. This will happen irrespective of genders of the participating parties, thanks to increasing awareness.
Also, it sends out wrong message to people who are oblivious to scripting of reality shows. Many people still think that reality shows are true to their name and show unfiltered and spontaneous content. For them, this incident will come across either as a celebrity abusing her power, or a teenaged boy tricked into his first kiss for fun. Both these messages are inappropriate in their own way.
Photo Credit: ProFM
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.