What’s the best way to piss off half of America in less than five minutes?
It would be hard to beat what the Grammys did last night when they had pigtailed, filler-face-plumped Madonna introduce non-binary singer Sam Smith — who first came out as gay, then gender-fluid, and now demands to be called “they” — to perform a duet of a song called “Unholy,” with a transgender artist named Kim Petras, in which Smith dressed up as Satan in red tunic, hat and horns while dancers performed a devil-worshipping ritual around him, as “they” and Petras sang about a married couple who leave their children home to both commit adultery.
Oh, and then reveal it was all sponsored by Viagra manufacturer Pfizer!
“If they call you shocking, scandalous, troublesome, problem, provocative or dangerous,” Madonna, increasingly resembling an embalmed version of the Bride of Wildenstein, told the crowd, “you are definitely on to something.”
What if they — OK, me — just call you, Madonna, a toe-curling, embarrassing shambles of a once-great pop star, now best suited for annual appearances on Halloween?
And what if they — OK, me again — think Sam “Satan” Smith’s desperation for attention is now fueled by a demented desire to be just as pathetically vulgar and repellent as the aging disgracefully Material Girl?
I wouldn’t go as far as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who tweeted about Smith’s performance: “This…is…evil.”
But judging by the instant fury that erupted on social media, I suspect many of his fellow Texans, and many of the other 210 million Christians in America, will have been very offended by this deliberate mockery of their Christian beliefs.
Petras made no secret of that being the intent, saying: “It’s a take on not being able to live the way that people might want you to live because as a trans person, I’m already not kind of wanted in religion. So, we were doing a take on that, and I was kind of hell keeper Kim.”
When they finished their incendiary act, host Trevor Noah pretended to be on the phone to his mother as he said: “No, Mom, it wasn’t the actual Devil … yeah, you did warn me about Hollywood.”
Then he turned back to the audience and quipped: “She says she’ll be praying for all of us.”
I’ve no idea whether Noah’s mother will be saying any prayers, though she should probably say one that her son gets a lot funnier than he was last night before his awards-hosting career comes to an abrupt, laughter-devoid halt.
But I do know this whole unedifying stunt didn’t have a prayer of doing anything but unnecessarily enraging vast swaths of a country already bitterly divided by toxic political partisanship.
Someone who seemed to get this was Ben Affleck, sitting with a forced half-smile next to his new wife, Jennifer Lopez, as Noah tossed out his lame religious gags.
In fact, every time the TV cameras fell on the movie star’s face, he looked increasingly miserable.
As “music’s biggest night” wore on, and on, and on, Affleck’s exhausted eyes glazed into the kind of expression normally only seen in hostage videos.
Meanwhile, J.Lo giggled, hooted, clapped, and shimmied around like a hyperactive Labrador, absolutely loving it.
“Ben Affleck, blink if you’re okay,” tweeted one concerned fan.
But who can blame him?
The whole night wasn’t just too long, it was also laced with lashings of what now seem to be the three obligatory awards show ingredients: absurdity, political virtue-signaling, and hypocrisy.
The absurdity came from the likes of Harry Styles, who looked like he’d been wrapped in a giant piece of Christmas tinsel and sang like I sang at my family’s post-lunch festive karaoke competition — which is not a compliment.
The virtue-signaling came when first lady Jill Biden appeared on stage to present an Iranian singer with an award for his song that has become a protest anthem in the repressed regime.
And then there was the hypocrisy.
Beyoncé became the biggest Grammy winner in history with a swag bag of awards for her album “Renaissance (Act 1),” which has been lauded as an “LGBTQ+ battle cry.”
“I’d like to thank the queer community for your love,” she said in her tearful acceptance speech.
Bey had previously declared her mission with the record was to create a “safe place, a place without judgment … a place to scream, release, feel freedom.”
All very laudable, right to the point she then accepted a reported $24 million fee to perform two weeks ago at a hotel launch in Dubai, where it’s illegal to be gay, and neglected to sing any of her pro-LGBTQ+ songs on “Renaissance” lest it offend her paymasters.
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Beyoncé’s a brilliantly talented superstar, but this was preposterously, jaw-droppingly two-faced, and a massive kick in the teeth to the “queer community” who’d shown her such love.
I much preferred the typically blunt honesty from Ozzy Osbourne, who wasn’t there and sent up a producer to deliver his seven-word thank-you speech: “I love you all and f— off.”
I’m all for the Grammys celebrating the best of the year’s music, and for being a bit edgy as they do so, and last night’s show was a superbly produced if overextended concert.
But why troll America’s heartland so egregiously in the process?