Idol Chatter

OK, I admit it. This is the first season I've caught the hit karaoke/talent competition American Idol, and I've been a faithful watcher each week. I highly doubt I'll wind up buying the CD of whoever wins this competition - it'll likely be more semi-bland Top 40 pop similar to that of previous competitors - but the show can get quite addicting.

Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, even a seemingly safe foray into a sugary pop show like Idol can't escape the spector of race and racist allegations.

You see, one week ago, three singers were dubbed "Divas" by the Idol judges, given lavish praise, and were arguably the strongest singers of the remaining seven. The Three Divas were three African-American women. However, when the vote tally was counted, the results prompted a controversy not unlike the 2000 Presidential Elections. In Reality TV World, it was as if the apocolypse had arrived. The Three Divas attracted the least amount of votes, with Jennifer Hudson voted off, while seemingly weaker singers gained the largest share of votes.

So, sadly predictably, this sparked an outcry of racism in the days that followed. I mean, this obviously means that millions of viewers voted on skin color alone, right? In the meantime, redheaded low-key crooner John Stevens was the target of vitrol from those upset with the results. A level of hatred not seen since the Chicago Cubs Goat-Fan of the Year last season. In one swift week, the polite, well-mannered (although not vocally strong) 16-year-old John Stevens somehow became the symbol of oppression and all that is wrong in socio-politics. Even Elton John jumped on the bandwagon, calling American Idol racist and commenting that he couldn't believe the three divas "constantly" wind up in the bottom three. Never mind that this is factually untrue, Elton probably just felt good saying it.

More rational explanations were that since so much praise was given to the Three Divas, their respective fans felt they were safe and became complacent, and didn't bother to vote (which, by the way, you can do early and often on American Idol). Moreover, the votes they did receive were likely split between the three, while Stevens, Huff, and Trias held a more solid, individualized fanbase. Not only this, but Stevens - the youngest on the show and a heartthrob to many a young females - likely pulled in the teenage vote, compared to the marginally older divas. After all, teenagers were more likely to spend time hitting "redial" than your average thirty-something.

So last night was a new Idol night, and the national couch potatoes were glued to their screens wondering what drama would unfold that evening. As I had expected, the non-racial theory turned out to be true. Fans of the other so-called divas - Latoya and Fantasia - realized that they couldn't avoid sitting on their hands and assume their singers were safe. They had among the highest vote totals, while George Huff and John Stevens were the bottom two, with the berated crooner Stevens mercifully leaving the program, much to his relief (hmmm... no sexist accusations at this result?).

Last week's controversy and last night's tally showed us the following:

It provided an example of a racial accusation being dealt without any consideration of more realistic and plausible reasons. The issue here is that when a race card is dealt too often, it clouds events when real racism occurs. After all, if the American Idol television audience is so racist, it's perplexing how five of the first seven contestents booted off the show prior to Hudson were white singers. Additionally, I understand the race charge was made last year when talented Tamyra Gray was let go, yet the eventual winner was indeed an African-American contestant.

And so it goes. Not even a light singing competition could escape the race categorizations.

Besides, we all know that Latoya London has the best voice, so Jennifer Hudson's dismissal was due eventually anyway. :-)

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not to mention that last

not to mention that last season's winner was African American as well.

When I initially started reading this post I thought it was going to be about how Democracy screws everything up!

could it be that

could it be that mathematically there are more people who just don't like the particluar kind of music they sang? is not liking a kind of music racist?
if they were all yodelling and no one voted for them because they don't like yodelling is that rasict. only if your white i guess.

Also, see this fisking of

Also, see this fisking of the American Idol race card.

I just wanted to point out

I just wanted to point out that Tamyra Grey was voted off in season one, not season two. When she was voted off the final three were apparently white. I say "apparently" because Justin Guarini isn't exactly "white." He's a mix. As for what he's a mix of, I don't know and it doesn't really matter. The night Tamyra got voted off she had the weakest performances (they each performed twice that night). Yes she was one of the strongest performers on the show but nevertheless that was not her night to shine, and other contestants came in very strong.

Last year allegations of racism flew when Reuben Studdard ended up in the bottom 2 and trenyce was voted off, while Josh Gracin was safe after a weak performance on his part. Of course this would ignore the fact that Kimberly locke made it, but oh yeah kimberly has one white parent and one black parent, so perhaps people were voting against half of her... heh heh.