After Katy Perry landed an “unwanted” peck on a 19-year-old contestant on an episode of American Idol that aired this week, a lot of people were upset, saying her behavior is unacceptable in the #MeToo era. But the contestant himself says he was not sexually assaulted.
Here’s a rundown of what happened. A bright-eyed teenage boy with a guitar walked into the audition room and made the mistake of telling Perry that he had never been kissed. The pop star’s eyes immediately lit up and she told the contestant, Benjamin Glaze, “Come here right now!”
As he approached her, Perry extended her cheek, and Glaze reluctantly gave her a peck on the cheek. She then complained his kiss was insufficient, and when he leaned in to give her another cheek kiss, Perry sneakily turned her head and landed one on his mouth. Glaze was taken aback, but recovered, and asked, “How was it?”
He subsequently asked for a glass of water to cool off and then delivered a lackluster performance during which appeared to be rushing through the song. The judges promptly rejected him.
Watch the whole thing below.
The New York Times wants you to know this kiss was NOT OKAY, and ran a story about the awkward onscreen encounter with the headline: “An Unwanted Kiss On American Idol.”
In an interview with The New York Times, the now 20-year-old contestant said the onscreen smooch made him “a tad bit uncomfortable.”
“I wanted to save [my first kiss] for my first relationship,” Glaze said. “I wanted it to be special.”
“Would I have done it if she said, ‘Would you kiss me?’ No, I would have said no,” he said. “I know a lot of guys would be like, ‘Heck yeah!’ But for me, I was raised in a conservative family and I was uncomfortable immediately. I wanted my first kiss to be special.”
The Times piece kicked off a media firestorm.
- HuffPo: Man Katy Perry Kissed On ‘American Idol’ Says He Didn’t Like It
- ABC News: ‘American Idol’ hopeful calls kiss with Katy Perry ‘uncomfortable’
- BBC News: American Idol contestant says Katy Perry’s kiss ‘made him uncomfortable’
- The Indian Express: American Idol contestant says Katy Perry’s kiss ‘made him uncomfortable’
- New York Daily News: ‘American Idol’ contestant kissed by Katy Perry says he did not enjoy smooch
The contestant himself took to Instagram shortly after the Times piece ran to correct the record and to tell reporters to stop using him as their #MeToo prop, because he did not feel that he was sexually assaulted.
“I am not complaining about the kiss from Katy Perry at all,” he wrote in a lengthy caption on an Instagram post with a screen grab of the Times piece.
The way certain articles are worded is not done by me, and my true intentions are not accurately represented in every article you read about the situation. I am not complaining about the kiss, I am very honored and thankful to have been apart of American Idol. The main purpose for the show is to find stars and new music artist. I do wish I would have performed better in the moment. I should have picked another song to sing and calmed myself down regardless of the kiss. I should have been able to perform under pressure. I do not think I was sexually harassed by Katy Perry and I am thankful for the judges comments and critiques. I was uncomfortable in a sense of how I have never been kissed before and was not expecting it.
To summarize, a contestant gets kissed by a pop star on national TV. He says if he were presented with two binary options: “kiss” or “no kiss,” he would have picked the latter. Members of the media take this and run with it, making him their #MeToo posterboy, even though HE DOES NOT WANT THAT.
Now, whenever someone Google searches Benjamin Gates’s name, a million articles depicting him as a victim of unwanted physical affection will forever pop up in the results window. And he will never be able to completely take that back.
Empowering victims of sexual assault to come forward and make sure they are believed is so important and the #MeToo movement certainly has done that. But some actors in the movement have taken this to the next level and are creating victims where there aren’t any. Sometimes a kiss is just a kiss, and this whole fiasco has been a good reminder of that.