In the segments that featured Mr. Glaze, he was shown waiting around in anticipation for his audition with other hopefuls.
“Have you kissed a girl and liked it?” asked Mr. Bryan, making a coy reference to Ms. Perry’s first hit single, “I Kissed A Girl.” Mr. Glaze said that he had not. “I have never been in a relationship and I can’t kiss a girl without being in a relationship.”
At that, Ms. Perry stood up. “Come here,” she said to Mr. Glaze. “Come here right now.”
Ms. Perry motioned for him to come over to the judges’ table and stuck her face toward him. “One on the cheek?” he said and she smiled. He quickly touched his face to her cheek. She asked for another kiss, complaining that he hadn’t even made the “smush sound.” As he moved toward her cheek again, Ms. Perry swung her face toward him and kissed him quickly on the lips. “Katy!” he yelled, as he stumbled backward. “You didn’t!” Ms. Perry raised her arms in victory.
Mr. Glaze then asked for a drink of water, delivered a lackluster audition and was kindly rejected by the judges.
Even though it aired earlier this week, the audition itself took place last October and this has given Mr. Blaze, who is now 20, some time to consider the event with perspective.
The kiss did result in his getting more screen time, which has helped draw attention to his music. “So in that way,” he said, “I’m glad she did it because it’s a great opportunity to get my music out.”
When he returned home, Mr. Glaze worked through his feelings about the kiss by talking to his friends. “They agreed with me that it didn’t really count,” he said. “It was lip contact versus a romantic situation with someone you care about. That’s what a real first kiss is.”
He said he does not feel he was sexually harassed and is grateful to Ms. Perry for tweeting about him.
The show’s producers embraced the footage, using it in televised promos and on social media. On the American Idol website, Mr. Glaze’s performance is posted under the headline, “Benjamin Glaze’s First Kiss and Audition.” The show’s Twitter feed also posted a photograph of Mr. Glaze and wrote, “This journey has just begun, Benjamin. A kiss for good luck from @katyperry and you’re on your way.”
The first kiss of an aw-shucks teenager from Oklahoma, delivered by a superstar singer, might have made for a sweet pop-culture moment in a previous era. But as the nation re-examines sexual conduct and power dynamics in workplaces and in the media, the kiss didn’t land well with all viewers. “It was a forced sexual act,” one viewer posted in reply to American Idol’s tweet: “Imagine if this was from a male judge. Has @katyperry not taken anything from the #metoo movement?” In the same thread, another viewer wondered if Mr. Glaze’s religious convictions had been disrespected. And many other viewers mirrored the sentiment of one fan, who wrote, “Lucky son of a gun.”
Representatives for ABC and Katy Perry did not respond to requests for comment.