'I Kissed a Girl'

Katy Perry criticized for planting unwanted smooch on 19-year-old ‘American Idol’ hopeful

Pop star Katy Perry kisses aspiring singer Benjamin Glaze on 'American Idol.' (Instagram / American Idol)

A resurrected version of the televised singing contest American Idol debuted on ABC this week, and, in addition to a new cast of judges, it brought some controversy along with it, perhaps just enough to resurrect viewers’ interest in the show Fox canceled two years ago. And by controversy, we don’t mean the presence of the beleaguered Ryan Seacrest, who is still hosting — we’re talking about fresh controversy served up by none other than pop star Katy Perry, one of the new judges.

It all happened back in October, when American Idol began taping auditions but just burst into the pop culture conversation this week when the series aired its  two-part debut, and it centered on an aspiring singer from Oklahoma, who was 19 at the time. That singer is Benjamin Glaze. He arrived at the always-zany audition with an acoustic guitar over his shoulder and prepared to sing either “Levels,” by Nick Jonas, or “Stadium,” an original song Glaze had written.

But before his audition commenced, he bantered with Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan and Perry, the three judges. Before he knew it, Perry had stolen a kiss, planting one right on the young singer’s lips.

The kiss was prompted by a question asked by Luke Bryan, a reference to Katy Perry’s hit 2008 single: “Have you kissed a girl and liked it?” But Glaze replied that he’d not had his first kiss yet. “I have never been in a relationship and I can’t kiss a girl without being in a relationship,” he explained. Perry then beckoned him to the judge’s desk. He timidly approached and Perry asked for a kiss. Glaze suggested he give her a peck on the cheek, and then he sort of obliged with an air kiss that may or may not have resulted in contact between their respective cheeks.

Perry, however, wasn’t satisfied, noting that the half-hearted effort “didn’t even make the smush sound.” Glaze agreed to go back in for another, presumably real, kiss, and when he did Perry quickly turned her head and stole a kiss on the lips. “Katy!” Glaze said as he backed away. “You didn’t.”

He kissed @katyperry and he liked it. 😘💋😍 #AmericanIdol

A post shared by American Idol (@americanidol) on

Well she did, and Glaze, after thinking about it for nearly the last six months, told The New York Times that, despite what American Idol posted on Instagram about the kiss, he has mixed feelings about the fleeting lip-lock, saying that he was “uncomfortable” when it happened. “I wanted to save it for my first relationship,” he said. “I wanted it to be special.”

Glaze said he talked it over quite a bit with friends and family and convinced them that Perry’s smooch doesn’t qualify as a genuine first kiss. “They agreed with me that it didn’t really count,” he said. “It was lip contact versus a romantic situation with someone you care about. That’s what a real first kiss is.”

As to whether he regrets the kiss, he was introspect. The judges rejected him after his audition, but the kiss has resulted in him receiving more publicity. “So in that way,” he said, “I’m glad she did it because it’s a great opportunity to get my music out.”

Turns out viewers had mixed feelings about the kiss, too. Some dismissed the kiss as adorable and a fun moment. Meanwhile, others, looking through the lens of the #MeToo movement criticized Perry for subjecting Glaze to a “forced sexual act,” as one Twitter user put it. She also wondered whether Perry had “taken anything from the #MeToo movement.” Others questioned whether a double standard was being applied. “If a male judge kissed a girl like that, IMAGINE the rioting,” one Twitter user declared. And still others maintained that young Benjamin Glaze was nothing more than lucky to have received his first kiss from Katy Perry.

Below watch highlights of the moment.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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