Unwelcome kiss from Katy Perry

American Idol contestant Benjamin Glaze being kissed by judge Katy Perry. M. Ramlee died on Wednesday after a month in hospital.
American Idol contestant Benjamin Glaze being kissed by judge Katy Perry. PHOTO: AMERICAN IDOL/INSTAGRAM

NEW YORK • Is it a Teenage Dream come true when you get kissed by American Idol judge Katy Perry?

No, said contestant Benjamin Glaze, but he added that the act did not amount to sexual harassment.

The 20-year-old from Oklahoma, who showed visible discomfort when smooched by the pop superstar, said on an episode broadcast this week that he had never kissed anyone before and wanted to save the experience for a relationship.

His remark came after country star Luke Bryan, a fellow judge on the show, phrased as a question one of Perry's most famous lyrics: "Have you kissed a girl and liked it?"

The Teenage Dream singer beckoned Glaze over and invited him for a kiss, which he delivered on her cheek. She followed up by quickly smacking him right on the lips. He voiced shock and stumbled through his song before he was dismissed by the judges.

Perry's forwardness, while in line with the playful behaviour of television personalities, triggered an uproar on social media - with some accusing her of sexual harassment amid the #MeToo movement sweeping the United States.

Speaking to The New York Times, Glaze said he was raised in a conservative family and had felt "uncomfortable immediately" as "I wanted my first kiss to be special".

As the story generated growing commentary, Glaze on Wednesday went to Facebook to criticise the media coverage and clarified that he was not complaining about Perry.

"I do not think I was sexually harassed by Katy Perry and I am thankful for the judges' comments and critiques," he wrote.

"My main goal is to reach people through the universal love of music and not cause strife or anger against anyone or about any situation."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2018, with the headline 'Unwelcome kiss from Katy Perry '. Print Edition | Subscribe