Saturday, 10 October 2015

Reading Too Much into Ricky Martin

The New York Times today featured a review of Ricky Martin’s recent concert in Madison Square Gardens. Martin is singular for — if nothing else — being the only out-of-the-closet gay pop singer of any stature to seriously entertain the notion of having a career.
I suggest, with all good intentions, that he give up now. 
Jon Pareles' review of Martin’s work is so subtly laced with homophobic innuendo, that —although it would take someone part culture critic, part detective, to tease it out (i.e., myself) — it nevertheless succeeds in effectively diminishing Mr. Martin’s career to zero. 
It’s up to you to decide if it is I who am reading too much into this Ricky Martin review, or if it is indeed the reviewer who is deliberately reading far too much into Ricky Martin.
Pareles starts out innocently enough. He quotes Martin as saying “I’m obsessed with performing.”
Nothing particularly gay there.
Let’s move on.
Pareles then goes on to describe Martin as ‘exultantly boyish.’ This appears innocent on the surface. But I ask you, what grown-up, heterosexual man wishes to exult in boyishness? Is that not more appropriate to a boy band member (which Ricky Martin once was and I’m sure wishes never again to be)?
Pareles goes on to quote Ricky Martin again, this time bringing up Martin’s sexual proclivities in the context of audience response: “In 2010 Mr. Martin told interviewers that he is a ‘fortunate homosexual man.’ On-stage, he was welcomed as an all-around sex symbol. He drew loud female shrieks.”
Ah. So Ricky Martin can breathe a sigh of relief. Although he has admitted quite brazenly to enjoying both anal and oral intercourse with members of the same sex, nevertheless somehow female fans continue to be attracted to him.
Pareles goes on to say that Martin celebrates ‘seize-the-moment-lust’ in his songs. He then quotes Martin saying — “This is the moment where you have to allow yourself to be free!”  urging concertgoers to shout — “I don’t care” — and wave their arms upward and downward.
Now the reviewer’s intent becomes clear. This is no ordinary rock concert. It’s something akin to a gay revivalist meeting. Concertgoers have been nothing less than brainwashed into celebrating hedonistic non-monogamous homosexual lust.
Some will contend that since Ricky Martin has discussed his sexuality publicly, it’s fair game for a reviewer to include references to it in an assessment of his work. 
There is precedent of course; John Simon once spoked disparagingly of Liza Minnelli’s  “desperately uplifted breasts.’ He justified his comments by saying that since Minnelli had proudly displayed her upper body area, he had every right to review it.

I fear that Ricky Martin may have spoken too soon about being a ‘fortunate gay man.’ For unfortunately, like all openly gay musicians, he will most likely end up a fallen pop star.