Would An American Man Make This Video?

By , September 28, 2010 1:35 am

Before you watch the video and answer the question, here’s a little background:

The video is for the song “Shame” by English pop star Robbie Williams. He’s accompanied his former (and current, again) boy bandmate from Take That, Gary Barlow. The song describes the regret over their relationship since Williams acrimoniously left the supergroup in 1995. Williams went on to have a huge solo career in the UK and the rest of Europe, while the rest of Take That broke up in 1996. But, fast-forward to 2006, and Williams’ star began to fade, but the other four members of Take That reunited, had a very successful tour and two hit albums. Currently, Robbie is back in the group and everyone has reconciled to the point where Williams and Barlow seem to have a full-on bro-mance. A new Take That album with all five original members will be released in November.

So, back to the question: Would an American man make this video? Specifically, would a straight American male pop star make this video? I don’t think two straight men, like Williams and Barlow, would make a video like this, that is ironically set in America, if they were from this side of The Pond. An American male pop star with straight-sex appeal won’t cross the line of toying with the idea of being gay, even if it’s just for a music video.

A singer has their name on the album, song and music video. They are connected to their product especially when it’s autobiographical as is the case with “Shame.” Singers are more connected to what’s going on in a video, as opposed to movies or television where actors are generally removed from the characters they play.

This shouldn’t be a surprise since America still won’t accept gays and lesbians as equal members of society. We still won’t allow gays to serve openly in the military and won’t allow them to get married in most states. There aren’t any openly male athletes in the NFL, MLB or NBA. Ricky Martin just came out of the closet this year because he was concerned about the reaction of his fans. Even though people speculated for years about him being gay, he continued to record and sing songs aimed at women.. as if he were straight.

This isn’t just about the fear of announcing one’s homosexuality, it’s about the appearing gay. Take any straight member of the boy bands in the 80s and 90s – New Kids On The Block, New Edition, Backstreet Boys – or any other male singer who’s popular right now. Can you see any of them doing this video? I don’t think the managers, agents and advisors would support it. For American singers, it’s ok to be provocative with straight sex, but not gay sex.

This sexual line in the sand doesn’t apply to women. Madonna, Britney, Gaga. They can flirt with being a lesbian and it’s no problem. If anything, it helps record sales.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 12: L-R Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams perform at the Help The Heroes Concert 2010 held at Twickenham Stadium on September 12, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

It’s often said that Europeans are much more open about sexuality than Americans. Combine that with a bit of cheeky British humor, and you get the freedom to make a video like “Shame.” If American artists aren’t open to making videos of any kind because we’re so concerned about what everyone else is doing in their bedroom and we lack a little sense of humor, then that is indeed a shame.

What do you think?

See also:
Ricky Martin Announces He’s Gay

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