'N Sync boybander Justin Timberlake has been trash talking this year's American Idol winner, Taylor Hicks. Timberlake thinks that the pop-soul singer, whose voice sounds very similar to the talented Michael McDonald's voice, can't carry a tune, and that he better not be gay if he knows what's good for him. Timberlake, who is now pursuing a solo career, tells Fashion Rocks magazine:
"The guy who won - people think he looks so normal, and he's so sweet, and he's so earnest, but he can't carry a tune in a bucket. Do you realize how much pressure it is to put on somebody all of a sudden?" . . .
"If he has any skeletons whatsoever; if, God forbid, he's gay, and all these people in Mississippi who voted for him are like, 'Oh, my God, I voted for a queer!' It's just too much pressure."
Timberlake's publicist is rushing to the scene to do damage control:
Ken Sunshine, Timberlake's representative, said the 25-year-old singer's comments "were taken completely out of context."
"He has tremendous affection for Taylor Hicks' success," Sunshine told The Associated Press on Thursday. "He would never say anything that personal about somebody he's never met. He only wishes him the best."
It's hard to understand how these comments could be taken out of context. The interviewer gives us no sense that he was joking around when he made the statements. Timberlake's statements are particularly disappointing given the fact that it is no secret that he has a large gay following. His former bandmate, Lance Bass, just came out of the closet last month and admitted he is gay. Bass, also a Mississippi native, said that he hid his sexual orientation for so long, in part, to protect his bandmates. It is now easy to understand his decision after hearing what Timberlake has to say about Hicks.
It frankly never even occurred to me that Hicks could be gay. He was recently named People magazine's hottest bachelor for 2006. The thought that Timberlake could be gay has crossed my mind many times, notwithstanding his well-publicized relationships with Britney Spears and Cameron Diaz. For people who like to engage in stereotyping, the high-pitched Timberlake sends off one's gaydar far more than Hicks. Perhaps he's trying to over-compensate for insecurities about his own sexuality. Dating attractive older women and staging hetero-appealing publicity stunts like tearing off part of Janet Jackson's costume at the halftime of the 2004 Super Bowl to expose one of her breaths before a live television audience seem to be part of his act to provide him cover.
It is very disappointing to see someone who has achieved so much success, in part, because of the enormous support he has received from the gay community, to publicly diss another performer because he perceives him to be gay. Timberlake's comments about Hicks will not go unnoticed by the gay community, and they will have a long-term impact on Timberlake's career.