Katy Perry called herself a “32-year-old cougar” on American Idol this past Sunday. She’s flirted with four contestants so far and even gave one 19- year- old his first kiss!
It started with 19- year-old, Benjamin Glaze, who had admitted he never kissed a girl before. Perry motioned for him to kiss her on the cheek and at the last minute she turned and kissed him on the lips. Glaze later said that he was a “tad bit uncomfortable” because he was saving his first kiss for his first relationship and wanted it to be special.
The internet went crazy analyzing whether or not this was sexual harassment.
People took to dubbing it a “#HimToo” moment, highlighting how people in power abuse their role and sexually harass smaller, less powerful people, who in turn can’t say anything against it. Haters of this moment went on to pose that if a 32-year-old male judge did that to a 19-year-old female contestant, the world would have gone nuts, so just because the genders are reversed doesn’t make it alright.
Glaze later commented on the situation during a New York Times interview saying, “Would I have done it if she said, ‘Would you kiss me?’ No, I would have said no. 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.” He later posted an Instagram with a part of the caption being, “I am not complaining about the kiss, I am very honored and thankful to have been a part of ‘American Idol.’” When asked later about the situation he made sure to say that he didn’t think he was being sexually harassed by Katy Perry.
Also in Perry’s line of men came Jonny Brenns, an 18-year-old from St. Augustine, Florida. Brenns auditioned with an original song called, “Blue Jeans” and all the judges liked it, especially Perry. She commented, “You got a face like Chet Baker. Very good-looking,” as she smirked at him. Then co-judge Luke Bryan said, “Look at her!” and third co-judge Lionel Richie said, “Will you stop flirting now?” Perry dismissed both comments and continued saying, “It’s kind of like this sweet little sexy thing that you’ve got going on. Eighteen-year-old girls would eat this up! If a 32-year-old cougar would eat it up.” Perry added.
Third up is Trevor Holmes, a 27-year-old construction worker from Thousand Oaks, California. Early in the audition, he admitted that Katy Perry was his celebrity crush. Perry obviously felt the same when she said, “You’re so hot,” and later added, “If you’re not going to Hollywood, maybe you could just come hang out with me in L.A.” She then said, “He’s in construction, so he’s got a lot of tools,” in a sexual way. Holmes then said that his girlfriend was waiting for him outside in the hallway. After the audition, where Perry had a dreamy-eyed expression the whole time, Holmes’ girlfriend burst into the room and Perry ran in the other direction.
Last up is William Casanova, a 26-year-old shoe salesman, who sang “A Song for You,” by Donny Hathaway. Perry said after the song was over, “You’re quite the Casanova, I had to look down a couple of times because I was uncomfortable, which is a good thing.” Then when asked whether to send him to Hollywood or not Perry took off her shoe and put her foot on the table and said, “What do you think about these feet? These pretty little feet?” Casanova said, “I could kiss them right now.” Then Perry put the golden Hollywood ticket in between her toes and said, “If you want to come close you have to come [over].”
The show has made these incidents focal points in the promos for the episodes. They’re capitalizing on Katy Perry’s flirtatious moments with these men who need her approval in order to pursue their dreams. Do they have a choice? Is it okay for Perry to dangle their acceptance at them like that? If the roles were reversed and it was a male contestant, they would have been dubbed “creepy” and with Hollywood’s scrutiny on sexual harassment now, this topic needs to be addressed.