Journal-following fandom, I don't think I ever mentioned most of the things that have been fannishly going on in my life because I mostly just talk about them with Wax or with idk my bffs (hi hollsh
, hi perhael
!) (who are incredibly patient with my babble about fandoms they frequently have no interest in, haha ♥).
So the end result of this is that I never told anyone - um, except Wax - about this whole idea I've been toying with writing for two weeks. (In fact I've barely even mentioned the way I've been consuming waxjism
secondhand and reading (first-hand) Idol RPS since July.) (Although actually, my compulsions dictate that I can't work on it yet anyway, because I started writing an installment of Just Like Verse
and I have to finish that before I can write anything else.)
This idea actually has political/meta roots. It started with this bookmark of bookshop
toujourselle: American Idol: Ryan Seacrest (& Adam/Ryan): My Heart to Your Beat
okay, this fic is great - thoughtful, nuanced, fantastic and rec-worthy. i'm of 3 minds about it, though, and mind 1 is like, ok, but i'm starting to sense a trend in the Adam slashfics I've been reading, where Adam is this sparkly unicorn that donates blowjobs freely to men dealing with their own repression; which is kind of problematic, ok, because Adam is not just a Magical Mouth for other people. So there is that. But then Mind 2 is like, BUT RYAN <3333 bc it's obvious that the writer recognizes what's problematic about Ryan Seacrest himself. And Adam seems like the kind of amazing person who would actually take time to help somebody through sexual issues, and it's not like there's anything shameful in getting it on with RS! So there is that. And then mind 3 is like, HA! THIS FIC IS TOTALLY RYAN/SIMON ANYWAY \o/ but then mind 1 is like: but doesn't that ultimately exploit Adam? >:( and so I want to acknowledge that. Overall, though, this is a great fic, esp. for this fandom.
I didn't bookmark the story myself because for me, the strength of distaste for the treatment of Adam overpowered the other factors. (Also, the Ryan/Simon is only implied even though it's all thematically there - totally unspoken, let alone consummated - and that part is quite well done and poignantly impactful, but the Adam Issues totally derailed it, for me.)
, I don't read Adam fic extensively because of that very same distaste. So this was my first introduction to that trope. The setup in this story is angst about coming out, with the producers during the run of AI pressuring Adam and forcing him to not be out explicitly, and Ryan, who is so closeted that the producers don't even know about it, angsting vicariously, but mostly being too chicken to stand up for Adam. However, Adam gives him a healing no-strings blowjob and Ryan continues to admire his out & proudness, and at the end, decides to come out (if I remember right?) and calls Simon, the emotional and thematic focus of the whole thing although he has no real bearing on the plot.
Then I read another story, one that was much more explicitly Cookleta than the above was Ryan/Simon. Here is my bookmark for it.
goseaward: FIC POST: kissing like you're coming true, American Idol RPS, Adam Lambert/David Archuleta
In which Archie comes to Adam Lambert for gay sex lessons, which is actually as a thought AWESOME (or you know, in terms of what it hilariously says about Archie) and full of wonderful dialogue - which is why I bookmark this, for the Archie dialogue in a novel (hilarious) situation. Although, yeah, there's a slight caveat in that Adam as a strange Gay Sex Oracle who seems to be all... selfless with no particular emotional needs of his own is... a bit strangely out of place in a story that devotes a fair amount of actual characterization to him and is obviously trying to be sensitive and positive. Problematic, at best, for Adam to be reduced to a sort of zen master gateway to the world of gay sex, which just makes all the positive parts of characterization (wise! gentle! sweet! gay best friend humor!) more problematic.
Magical Mouth is actually a really great name for this characterization of Adam (kudos to bookshop
I presume?), because the strange Wise Sex Advice stuff is problematically reminiscent of Magical Negroes. Like Magical Negroes, Adam is devoid of his own agency or character development, reduced to a deus ex machina - and perhaps more importantly, devoid of his own emotional engagement. The fact that for Magical Mouth Adam sex seems to be some kind of exercise (at which he is a master of course), like yoga or perhaps more appropriately a tarot reading or something traditionally draped in mysticism in its media portrayals, is disturbing because it is dehumanizing. It separates him from the less queer characters in a way that, again, problematically seems to link his very Queerness (more on this next paragraph) and thus his sex-positiveness with a lack
of emotional needs. This recalls the typical homophobic stereotype that gay people don't have relationships or don't have "real", "serious" life partnerships - in short, that being gay is about sex and not about love.
By "Queer", here, I don't mean just non-straight. There is a lot more than just gayness to Adam's identity, particularly the completely unapologetic, wild, sex-positive rock'n'roll vibe, and the equally unapologetic rejection of normalcy - in the sense of cultural norms. He's not just gay, he's out and sparkly, unapologetically BDSM-dressing cockring-wearing whip-wielding - etc. In a sense, Adam is more out (as "Queer") than an equally out, but [hetero-]normative gay man such as Clay Aiken. All these fairly explicit sex references are strongly queered - in the case of the kink gear, it's queer without necessarily implying gay - in the sense of anti-normative. To contextualize the importance of this "queerness" in contrast to heteronormativity, think of one of the blog posts on marriage equality that pissed me off the most strongly - it called for lesbian and gay couples to basically "show straight people that we are just like them", that we also want white picket fences and to celebrate Thanksgiving and prayer with our families, to presumably demonstrate that we, too, drive SUVs and dream of 2.5 children and buy clothes at J.C. Penney (ew
) and don't buy sex toys and that it is therefore that we deserve the privilege of marriage
. Well, you know, NO. People who don't subscribe to normative ideas of fashion, marriage, sex, and monogamy are just as "deserving". Adam Lambert challenges norms, and he's beloved across America by everyone from children to grannies who haven't gotten into pop music since Elvis.
Ryan Seacrest and David Archuleta are both - by default, and again by their typical representation in fanon, and again by their representation in these two stories respectively - far more normative than Adam. Well, most people are, because the opportunities to dress in makeup and black leather in Ryan's or Archie's jobs are perhaps limited. (Of course, in reality we know little of their outlooks or sexual practices, so bear in mind that I'm talking about them as fictional characters in these stories and in the wider fandom.) Ryan is shown struggling with fear of public opinion in the first story and Adam as struggling more or less just with the producers; Ryan seems to envy Adam's confidence to be who he is, but from the point of view of society, people being concerned with norms is good - it shows that they are subject to the dictates of society/the greater good. Presenting Adam as above Ryan's more pedestrian concerns also has the effect of making him less sympathetic; he's an enigmatic, almost mystical character in that story, right down to the blowjob happening without warning when he appears out of nowhere, offering soothing words but no real explanation of his own motivation. (This is typical for Magical Negroes as well. They aren't presumed to require an internal motivation; the gratification of the white hero is sufficient.) In the second story, Archie's entire motivation is to gain sexpertise to be used to seduce David Cook, whom he is romantically fixated on. Adam, on the other hand, is free of emotional attachment and, as in the first story, pretty much free of internal motivation (the only ones he shares with the reader are altruism and Archie being attractive - which, no offense to Archie, is not really sufficient. There are a lot of attractive guys out there who could theoretically benefit from sex; you'll allow me to doubt that Adam sleeps with all of them).
The effect of this is to recycle but modify the typical homophobic stereotype. Adam is the stereotypical sparkly, kinky, casual-drag-wearing, Burning-Man-going gay man whose interest in sex replaces the typical human need for attachment; Ryan and Archie become the "human" gay men who understand J.C. Penney and white picket fences, who still ultimately desire heteronormative relationships with Simon and Cook respectively, and who (according to some) deserve to get married. It's not gayness which is dehumanized; but the rehabilitated gay characters are re-humanized through their separation from the Queer, club-going, promiscuous, sex-positive world of Adam. The Ryan and Archie characters are made sympathetic via Adam's Othering.
My wish is to use the formula of these Adam-Helps-Out stories and turn it on its head, allowing him to help while retaining his emotional (monogamous :O!!!) attachment to Drake and without surrendering the focus of the story to the other relationship (in this case, I plan to leave the other relationship pretty much offscreen, in fact, and handle it through the intermediary of Allison... mainly because I want to write Allison and Adam together. Because she is the cutest BBHBIC ever and, as Wax said the other day, "Imagine being this cute little 17 year old girl and your gay best friend is Adam Lambert.
Seriously. *__*"). I'm still struggling with how to structure the whole thing, though. I'm toying with the idea of framing it in Drake's POV, but am not sure if that is skeevy (or indeed, counter-productive).