Even with dismal ratings, American Idol (please go gently into that good-night…) still remains in the news. This time, the long-running reality show is facing a potential lawsuit brought by nine former contestants who are claiming that the show and its producers are giant racists. So, there's that.
I'm going to go out on a limb right now and say that I don't think the show or its practices exude any type of racism. If I'm wrong Jennifer Hudson is having the best last laugh ever. Factoring in the voters, the fans, and the singers, it would take a lot to skew the show in the direction of racism. To me it sounds like a bunch of sour yet talented former contestants who didn't find the fame they'd hoped when getting the boot prior to the finale. Just fade into obscurity like the rest of them…heck, Taylor Hicks won his season, and who even knows what he's up to these days! (Apparently, he's headlining his own show in Vegas, but more on that after the jump 🙂 I know, right?)
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Anyhoo, we live in a sue-happy world, and it is what it is. I guess that's a good thing for Corey Clark (Season 2), Jaered Andrews (Season 2), Donnie Williams (Season 3), Terrell Brittenum (Season 5), Derrell Brittenum (Season 5), Thomas Daniels (Season 6), Akron Watson (Season 6), Ju'Not Joyner (Season 8) and Chris Golightly (Season 9). The crew has scored an attorney that has filed a request with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to gain permission to sue Idol and FOX for his clients.
According to TMZ, New York based attorney James Freeman found something "fishy" about the show when some African American contestants were kicked off after their criminal records were revealed. After finding out that Jermaine Jones (notice that he's smart enough not to be a party to this lawsuit!) was kicked to the curb when he failed to be forthcoming about several outstanding warrants out for his arrest, Freeman began investigating the show…and compiling his perfect list of plaintiffs.
Freeman discovered that all of the contestants who were publically disqualified for lying about past arrests are black. Citing California law, he argues that producers were not allowed to ask about criminal history since a statute in California prohibits employers from questioning potential employees about past arrests. What? That may be the dumbest law I've ever heard (well, not ever). Freeman asserts that because the contestants were vying for employment with American Idol, digging into their pasts was unlawful. Brilliant stance, but it's quite the stretch.
In his letter to the EEOC, Freeman contends the show "NEVER once publicly disqualified a white or non-black American Idol contestant in the history of the eleven season production." He also notes that none of those disqualified were ever convicted of their crimes. Of his clients he claims, "[T]heir personal and professional lives remain permanently and severely impaired by [the show’s] continuing violations of our nation's laws."
The show has had three African American winners, and its head honcho Nigel Lythgoe says, "We treat everybody the same … no matter the race, religion or sex. I think we've always had a fantastic share of talent from contestants both black and white…I don't think I've ever seen racism at the show."
Nigel definitely has some support from former American Idols. Melinda Doolittle, a frontrunner from seaon six, tells the same site, "It is shocking to see such allegations. In my experience on the show, the 'Idol' team strives to champion everyone, regardless of race. However, each contestant is explicitly told that the withholding of information that may compromise the show or artist, can and will result in immediate disqualification." That sounds about right.
Season four finalist Vonzell Solomon agrees, sharing, "I didn’t experience any of that [racial discrimination]…all of our contracts were clear about how the background checks worked and that we could be disqualified if we lied about our past."
Even former winner Taylor has
come out of the woodwork taken a break from his Vegas tour to add his two cents. He asserts, "American Idol is for everyone. All walks of life go through the show. Not once did I see the show discriminate towards anyone. It’s all about the votes."
Sheesh! It will be interesting to see if this lawsuit ever comes to pass. I'm guessing that it won't, but our legal system never ceases to surprise me. I just think the whole thing is ridiculous, but here's hoping that it helps aid the show's sagging ratings. We'll see!
TELL US-DO YOU THINK AMERICAN IDOL IS RACIST?