Last night’s Grammy Awards brought together some of the most confusing, forced-splashy musical pairings in Grammy history (see: Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons). But the strangest viewing experience of the night was also the show’s ultimate publicity stunt: watching Macklemore and Ryan Lewis perform their hit song, “Same Love,” alongside Madonna, as recently-deputized closet case Queen Latifah presided over the live marriage ceremonies of nearly three dozen couples.
The newlyweds who got married in the aisles of the theater included a mix of gay and straight couples who CBS clearly intended to awe, if not shock. They elicited an audience reaction that was, I suspect, exactly what the show’s producers were going for: Keith Urban cried, Katy Perry caught a bouquet, and so forth.
But although the stunt may have scored CBS ratings points, it otherwise rung hollow as just that: a stunt. The Grammys singlehandedly managed to discredit the thousands of LGBT activists who have worked so hard for marriage equality by reducing their examples into props at a Mackelmore performance. And when one of the dominating criticisms of the pro-same-sex marriage movement is that it’s more concerned with making sweeping, en vogue cultural statements than it is about actually procuring truly equal rights for the LGBT community, that’s not okay.
The worst part of it all was that the show’s producers didn’t even commit 100 percent to its “groundbreaking” political statement. If you watch the clip above around the 5:17 mark, the camera appears to cut away from a shot of a gay couple just before they’re about to kiss and moves instead to a more “viewer-friendly” shot of another couple holding hands:
And in an interview with the New York Times that ran before the show aired on live television, longtime Grammy Awards producer Ken Ehrlich said the couples were intentionally positioned in the aisles because he thought placing them onstage “could be viewed as more exploitative.”
“It seemed like less of a ‘show’ than if I put them onstage,” Ehrlich told the Times. “I don’t want them to feel as though they’re on parade.”
Newsflash: When you’re using gay marriage ceremonies as the main entertainment for a ditty by Macklemore, a straight man, putting gay couples on parade is exactly what you’re doing.