Racism! Racism! Racism!

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Is Diebold handling the votes for American Idol? Jennifer, LaToya, and Fantasia, all black, all girls, all orders of magnitude more talented than anybody else in the competition, and all coming off season-best performances, were the lowest scorers of the week? This is beyond fishy.

NEXT: TWO MONTHS AFTER THE PASSION: BODY COUNT—ZERO

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  1. The target demographic of this show may be all races and sexes between 10 and 55, but, from my own, admittedly, unscientific observation, the only demographic group that cares enough about the show to actually go to the trouble of voting is little girls.

    I suspect that little girls tend to vote for either guys they think are cute and non-threatening or young women they can imagine themselves being. (Otherwise, how can we explain the appeal of Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears?) Little girls, in this country, are disproportionatly white. So, on American Idol, I would expect black women to have a tougher hill to climb.

    But if little, white girls are voting against black women, black women who are more talented than contenstants of other races, does that mean that the kind of little, white girls that call into this show are, by and large, racist?

    Probably.

  2. What’s ‘American Idol’?

  3. What’s “television?”

  4. What’s “television” ?

  5. The reason that these girls were the at the bottom is becuase the majority of AI’s audience is white, teenage girls.

    That’s the reason that the kid from Idaho made it in the final and the reason that the red-head is still in it.

    This show is as much about looks, charisma, performance, and marketability as it is about raw talent(which the bottom three black girls had alot of).

  6. Don’t be so hard on the anti-pop culture snobs. My preferred indulgence in snobbery is refusing to form an opinion about infotainment “news” fluff like Jon-Benet, Laci Peterson or Kobe Bryant. Every time I hear either name on a “news” program, I change the channel.

    Back during the O.J. Simpson case, my standard response on the subject was “I don’t know enough to have an opinion, and I’m working hard to keep it that way.”

    I’ve got no problem either with good pop culture (there really is some), or pop culture that’s so horrible it’s funny. But from what I’ve seen of AI, it’s neither–just mediocre crap. It’s just Top 40 karaoke. If the contestants presented their own original work, or even sang covers of something more interesting than mainstream pop, it might be halfway decent.

  7. I heard some people in my town complain of racism when William Hung got a record deal. Apparently it’s racist because an Asian is being mocked.

    Speaking as a full-fledged nerd (although admittedly a white nerd) who’s even less talented than William Hung, I think the guy is hilarious!

  8. Please post Paula Abdul nudes. Anyone have any spread shots from her Lakers days?

  9. As a broadcaster who airs this wholesale shitfest, I can honestly say that bickering about ANY aspect of this bastion of mediocrity measurably lessens one as a person. I can’t remember anyone saying, back in the day, “I can’t believe that cross-dressing yodeller got gonged.”
    The sooner you stop talking about this show, the sooner it will go away.

  10. My g/f and I do vote on occasion, and usually wait an hour or two until the phone lines clear up. I found it interesting that LaToya was in the bottom three last night, yet her phone line was _still busy_ well after the last two shows were over. Think about it!

    I also agree that the others were getting way too gospelly in their singing, but I thought it was Jennifer and Fantasia.

    There’s 67 seconds of my life I’ll never get back…

  11. Probably.

    Why? Because pre-teen girls can’t picture themselves black? “Idol”. Turn that word over in your mouth a few times. Think about what it means.

    The sound of that American Idle triumvirate is powerful, high in quality, and exactly like the thousands of other powerful, high-quality voices I have heard in my musical travels. If being a pop star has anything to do with talent, how can we explain the appeal of Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears?

  12. I found it interesting that LaToya was in the bottom three last night, yet her phone line was _still busy_ well after the last two shows were over.

    1. You called no other lines to see how long they were busy.
    2. Fewer contestants means that approximately the same number of calls will be coming in on fewer lines. The wait will get longer and longer each week.
    3. You are probably not the only people waiting to avoid the rush.

  13. I do find it interesting that a white contestant gathered the least amount of votes in each of the previous FIVE weeks of American Idol, yet the race card only rears its ugly head when the first black contestant exits the building. But I digress…

    The quickest explanation for last night’s surprise is that the judge-annointed “divas” were so lavished with praise, that fans just figured they were safe and didn’t bother to call (or, didn’t bother to call repeatedly). And, at the end of the evening, what few votes they did receive was divided into three.

    Moreover, here’s an example of how John Stevens could get through despite more people loathing him:

    Let’s say you pull out 20 voters and poll them:

    4 love John Stevens, while the other 16 hate him with a passion and want him gone.

    Among those 16 John-haters, 3 vote for Fantasia, 3 vote for Jennifer, 3 vote for LaToya, and so on…

    John avoids the bottom tier because he got 4 votes, while the so-called divas land in the cellar because they received 3 each. In the above example, 9 people love the diva sound, while only 4 love John. But the diva vote is split, and John slips through.

    Upon reading this entry, I checked out American Idol’s message board, and race conspiracies are running wild. Granted, if American consumers are so racist, why is any Billboard Top 40 chart dominated by hip-hop, rap, and R&B, and not Caucasian lounge singers? “Power voting” and statistics are the reasons behind American Idol’s freakish week-to-week variances. But the Race excuse is absurd here. Besides, good show-stopping performances by European-heritage Matt Rogers and Amy Adams (her Dixie Chicks cover was one of the best performances of the season) didn’t prevent their early dismissals from the same viewing audience.

    Sidenote: If American Idol existed circa 1990, and Paula Abdul tried to audition – without the help of sythesizers and studio enhancements – she would not have made the Final 32.

  14. BTW…

    Re: Fantasia

    I’m a fan of hers (love the Macy Gray-style voice), but I’m not sure Tuesday was her “season-best performance”. Started well, but she literally shrieked the last one-third of her song. I think the previous week was her strongest performance.

    Personally, I still enjoy George Huff and Latoya London the best. And despite the judges’ opinion, I thought George did a commendable job with Against All Odds in the previous week.

  15. Yuck

  16. What is “Hit & Run”?

  17. Unscientific polling? It’s millions of fans voting their honest likes and dislikes–more votes than you get in most elections, too big for anyone to rig. What would scientific polling mean in this context anyway–experts, random Americans, music fans?–the whole concept of scientific polling here is meaningless.

    What happened today is a common thing in elections. You had three very talented young women who were too similar, so, as the elections get tougher and the obvious losers fall away, they split their vote three ways and sooner or later one of them goes. This happens in primaries all the time, where candidates seek to distinguish themselves from the pack. In multi-candidate election, the most popular doesn’t always win. This is why Marisa Tomei won her Oscar (not that she didn’t deserve it).

  18. rst,

    If I could re-write my sentence, I would leave off the word “can”. I didn’t want to suggest that little, white girls “can’t” imagine themselves as black, but I do suspect that little, white girls, probably, don’t imagine themselves as black.

    Furthermore, I wasn’t trying to make the point that little, white girls are probably racist because they don’t imagine themselves as black. I was suggesting that little, white girls that demonstrate a preference for a certain race over talent, are, probably, racist.

    In regards to the idea that Timberlake and Spears demonstrate that the roads of popularity and talent don’t necessarily run parallel, your point is well taken. But, I suspect that, because of their core audience, both stars might not be as successful as they’ve been if…

  19. “Unscientific polling? It’s millions of fans voting their honest likes and dislikes”

    No, that’s not true. The fundamental problem with American Idol is that relies on weekly elimination of one contest but viewers never get a chance to vote for the person they want to throw off. Instead they have to vote for the person or persons they’d like to stay, which is going to produce problematic outcomes like this where probably a majority of viewers would have preferred that someone other than one of those three leave.

  20. The fundamental problem with American Idol is that relies on weekly elimination of one contest but viewers never get a chance to vote for the person they want to throw off. Instead they have to vote for the person or persons they’d like to stay, which is going to produce problematic outcomes like this where probably a majority of viewers would have preferred that someone other than one of those three leave.

    Hmmm, that’s odd logic. Someone’s been watching a little too much “Survivor”, Brian. Just because you don’t get to vote the worst contestant “off the island” doesn’t mean the process is “fundamentally flawed”. It’s akin to democratic elections, except that instead of the single top vote-getter taking all, you have a group of top vote-getters taking some. You have a choice: you take polls asking people who they liked the most, or who the liked the least. Either way, the least popular tribe member gets voted off the friggin’ island, in one form or another. To say that, since they aren’t polling people’s ultimate un-favorite, it’s “flawed”, is just odd to me. It’s Fox’s prerogative, and something tells me that their logic goes a little like this: “Cowell exudes enough negativity for the whole show; we don’t need to have a negative-value-based poll as well”. I’m sure that positivity (i.e., “you got the least POSITIVE votes, so you’re gone”) is, or at least sounds, a lot more forgiving than negativity (i.e., “you got the most NEGATIVE votes, so you’re gone”). It’s relative, but not flawed.

    As an aside, I must say, I don’t watch the show very much after the “audition” part, which is funny and sad, whereas the rest of the show fuckin sucks. But I caught monday’s renditions while waiting for “24”, and I must say, anyone who honestly believes that that untalented carrot-topped Opie wanna-be (who sang “Mandy”, a horrible, horrible song to begin with), put on a better performance than LaToya, well, they should have their head examined. She made it look like she’s been doing this her whole life; Opie looked like a dying cat trying to squeeze out one last “meow”. Cowell was right, LaToya is the best one up there, I knew that when I heard saw her sing. The only reason Opie’s still around is so that Fox can capitalize on the “Clay Aiken” nerd transformation factor. And contrary to what some posters have said, I doubt it’d be too hard for Suncom and Fox (and Diebold) to rig this thang.

    But like I said, this show sucks.

  21. Whenever a post dealing with mass pop culture appears on any blog that smart people read, I guess how long it will took for a commenter to feign complete ignorance (and usually include some tone of disdain) about the subject of the post before I read the comments.

    This time it took just over an hour, and the post went up at midnight.

    Someone who lives in the United States (or the UK or Canada or India or Australia or any place that has hosted one of the series of Idol shows) who does not at least know what American Idol is must be completely oblivious of their world.

    You obviously don’t have to watch it or like it, but trying to make a point by acting like you’ve never even heard of it just makes you sound like you are unaware of the times you live in.

    I feel like these posts should come with a disclaimer: “Yes, we get it. Some of you are so smart and read so many books about economics and Eastern philosophy and the history of Guatemalan art that you couldn’t be bothered to own a television or even know what shows are on. So save your comment about how distasteful it all is to you. ”

    I realize this is a little harsh (particularly from someone who is not a regular commenter) but it’s a recurrent theme in these types of posts and it makes me crazy.

    Long live Clay Aiken.

  22. Anyone wishing to examine Brian Carnell’s point should do a Google search for “voting paradox”.

  23. Nice work, eric.

    Actually, on WASP america still dominating, does anyone watch trading spaces? More appropriately, does anyone’s wife/girlfriend watch trading spaces and “loves” it when you watch with them?

    Anyway, during their “we pay off your mortgage” competition, the gay guys were massacred (arguably their room was better) by losing almost 70% of the vote early on. Then the black couple (much better design in my opinion) were voted down in favor of the young, white couple. Now it is the cubans vs. the young, white couple in the finals…… I think it is all over on Sunday. Curious to see who wins.

  24. “Someone who lives in the United States (or the UK or Canada or India or Australia or any place that has hosted one of the series of Idol shows) who does not at least know what American Idol is must be completely oblivious of their world.”

    And not have a water cooler at work …

  25. I must say, anyone who honestly believes that that untalented carrot-topped Opie wanna-be (who sang “Mandy”, a horrible, horrible song to begin with), put on a better performance than LaToya, well, they should have their head examined.

    Well, I’m just glad Anthony Michael Hall is following his dreams.

  26. Looking WAY too deep into this one.

    If you’ve watched AI last year, you know that there are some SERIOUS pity votes that go on. People who are kinda likable but not gushed on by the judges get large votes out of pity. Constant praise each week can be the kiss of death, as people think, “Well, Latoya will definitely move on, so I’m voting for that pouty guy.”

    It’s not because they’re black, or female — it’s because the judges slammed the other guys, many of whom are teenagers and well-liked by the audience at large. Trying to read anything else into this is spending WAY too much time thinking about American Idol.

  27. On this, Tim, we agree entirely.

  28. Back off you guys, maybe the dude’s little unabomber log cabin doesn’t pick up that channel!

  29. or work in an office with no cooler!

    it’s entirely possible to be oblivious to certain pop culture “events” without being a snob. you can just be oblivious, and not hang out with TV enabled or interested people. instead my workplace is dominated with stories about how cool john kerry is. 🙂

    we all have our crosses to bear.

  30. If you want to vote for one person to leave, vote once for every other person. I’ve done that before. Some weeks, I don’t vote, but if I do, I probably vote 20-30 times. (Hint: use redial.) I didn’t vote this week, and for that I feel ashamed, as the best three were the bottom three.

  31. What`s “American Idol”?

  32. BTW, I have never seen ‘American Idol’, but I have a fair idea of what it is about, and there is a similar show over here, I don’t know what it is called, or what they are saying, but it is horrible. It consists of three people sitting and judging various participants that sing or recite the Koran, at least thats what it sounds like to me. I don’t see any voting though, so I guess it is a little different.

  33. Here is the problem. There are an abundance of young white teen girls voting. They are seemingly the only people voting in large enough numbers to count. They are the same people that seem to win all of the radio call-in contests. In addition there is cross-over into the demographic that has something to gain, ie. young people that live in close proximity to the contestants. High school kids will vote. For some reason most adults do not. I was at a wedding with my family this past weekend and everyone watched it and everyone had an opinion but not a sinlge one except me voted. Of course young, white, teen girls are gonna vote for their peers even if they suck.

    It is similar to real elections in that there are certain demographics that vote in disproportionate numbers to their actual numbers in the population.

  34. Yeah, I watch Idol too, and yeah, I thought carrot-top ought to have been booted for messing up on a song that, as Randy Jackson could ahve said, “was his thang, dog, but it was just a’ight with me, man!”

    On the other hand, I was not so fixated on Idol that I missed news of yesterday’s federal court ruling, allowing WAMM in Santa Cruz to continue its med pot activities, free of DEA raids and harassment. That’s huge news, yet I find no peep of it here on Hit and Run. Not even a “far out, man” from Mr. Sullum…? Maybe he’s … er … celebrating too much to remember how to write? THAT’s some good medicine, dude!

  35. What IS American Idol?

  36. I sort of look at it as people are getting tired of oversinging divas. I know that’s why I stopped watching the show this year, because LaToya and Fantasia particularly sing EVERYTHING in a gospel style. Perhaps they’ve changed some in the last few weeks, but I know that’s not what I want in a pop singer. Just because you can noodle around on every note in the song does not make people want to listen to you. Maybe it’s your ‘style’ or ‘thang’, but it’s not what I want to hear. And I don’t think it’s what the teenage girls who will spend that much time trying to vote will want to hear either.

  37. Not surprising. The Hawaiian guy and the black guy got booted early in “Making the Band,” despite having as much talent as anyone, so that blond guys could stay. The reason given was their “all American look.”

    Gee, what could that mean.

  38. Since the subject of vote-splitting has come up, and since it is relevant to matters other than American Idol, I’ll just recommend 2 good sites for those interested in it.

    http://www.electionmethods.org

    http://www.approvalvoting.org

  39. What`s “an all American look” ?

  40. That anyone would make any claims based upon unscientific polling–especially unscientific polling in which the voters are encouraged to vote early and often, and especially unscientific polling to determine the winner of what must be the stupidest talent show ever seen outside a junior high–is troublesome.

    Of course, it could (unscientifically) prove the inability of minority groups in American to manipulate elections. But don’t cite anything involving Barry Manilow and Quentin Tarantino to prove that point.

  41. hans said: “35 million Americans voted in the last election for President.”

    Err…I think you’re a bit mistaken about that. More than fifty million voted for each main candidate, and about 105 million voted overall. Not the most impressive turnout, but a bit better than your numbers.

  42. Fantasia has a powerful voice and a good heart. LaToya has a magnificent voice but her personality has yet to come thru. Redheaded John, how did he last this long? The others, good voices. As far as the race card is concerned, come on people, this is America, race has always mattered and it looks like it ALWAYS will matter. Sad because believe it or not, we’re all in this chaos together. God bless us all!

  43. I agree with the split vote theory. The three divas are too much a like and their votes are getting split. The real competition for the American Idol just started. America needs to vote and narrow down their favorite Diva, and that Diva will win the competition hands down. I dont think its a racial thing, but their are a lot of people voting a long racial lines, (primarily pre-teen white girls), not because they are evil bigots, but because they are too young to understand the “DIVA” thing, and a lot of American Teens are equating the DIVA black girl thing with Omarosa. What America is voting now is “Diva” against “Pop”. The diva’s numbers will get stronger as each one is voted off. Instead of their votes getting split three ways its now getting split Two ways.

    I suspect John Stevens is getting a lot of pity votes too. With the success of William Hung, Americans have become sympathetic to good charactered, horrible singers.

  44. I agree with the split vote theory. The three divas are too much a like and their votes are getting split. The real competition for the American Idol just started. America needs to vote and narrow down their favorite Diva, and that Diva will win the competition hands down. I dont think its a racial thing, but their are a lot of people voting a long racial lines, (primarily pre-teen white girls), not because they are evil bigots, but because they are too young to understand the “DIVA” thing, and a lot of American Teens are equating the DIVA black girl thing with Omarosa. What America is voting now is “Diva” against “Pop”. The diva’s numbers will get stronger as each one is voted off. Instead of their votes getting split three ways its now getting split Two ways.

    I suspect John Stevens is getting a lot of pity votes too. With the success of William Hung, Americans have become sympathetic to good charactered, horrible singers.

  45. 35 million Americans voted in the last election for President.
    25 million Americans voted last week in American Idol.
    Something doesn’t seem right.

  46. Wasn’t it the great George Spigot who once commented something like, “Well, they’re fickle, your pop fans.”

    American Idol, nor any of its predecessors, is not supposed to produce the best singer, or even the best performer, but the most plausible pop star, which is quite another thing. It is the difference between Buddy Holly and Fabian, Bob Dylan and Bobby Sherman, Joey Ramone and Joey Fatone! Why should anyone be surprised that the winners have been a cut-rate Mandy Moore and a Luther Vandross wannabe? I’ve never watched the show, but enough clips of it have intruded into what I do view, not to mention parodies, that I get its gist. It isn’t aimed at me. It is mostly harmless fun for the kids. I could wish that the youngsters had better taste, but the kids will listen to music their elders hate. At least these proto-stars sing tunes, rather than spout doggerel in rhythm.

    I don’t get the channel it’s on, but does anyone follow the cable series Nashville Star? It is supposed to be the same sort of thing, but with country singers.

    I miss the Ted Mack/Major Bowes format, where the folk singer had to compete with the operatic soprano and the guy who played accordion duets with his trained monkey. Now that was great TV!

    Kevin
    (aging tenor with a gut)

  47. Voting off the best performers like Jennifer Hudson is more than a big issue.If Jennifer, Fantasia, and Latoya are in the bottom three then the show should be called American worst Perfomer idol,because the best talent is being eliminated.Bring Jennifer back or else next season no more viewers on American Idol.She deserves to be in the top three Jennifer, Latoya and the fantastic TASIA.

  48. Voting off the best performers like Jennifer Hudson is more than a big issue.If Jennifer, Fantasia, and Latoya are in the bottom three then the show should be called American worst Perfomer idol,because the best talent is being eliminated.Bring Jennifer back or else next season no more viewers on American Idol.She deserves to be in the top three Jennifer, Latoya and the fantastic TASIA.

  49. When each individual will spend time in prayer about their own neighborhood; when they will be willing to offer personal invitations in their own neighborhoods; when they will be involved in the lives of those in their own neighborhood. It?s an individual working with friends in heir own neighborhood. That was the way Jesus did it…one-on-one, day-by-day reaching out. It certainly is NOT an individual waiting for a ?program? designed for someone else to reach his own neighborhood.

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  50. When each individual will spend time in prayer about their own neighborhood; when they will be willing to offer personal invitations in their own neighborhoods; when they will be involved in the lives of those in their own neighborhood. It?s an individual working with friends in heir own neighborhood. That was the way Jesus did it…one-on-one, day-by-day reaching out. It certainly is NOT an individual waiting for a ?program? designed for someone else to reach his own neighborhood.

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