A week ago today, a contestant on American Idol was being interviewed after the live show, by the American Idol after buzz team. This is carried out each week after every show. Last week, when after buzz was interviewing contestant Caleb Johnson, he was asked to respond to a fan question from twitter!
This particular fan lives with Downs Syndrome. The question posed was how did Caleb feel about the fans making song selections for him. Caleb responded by calling this individual a retard! That he didn’t need people telling him what to sing, that he would chose his own song selections, whether the fans liked them or not!
Fast forward to the outpouring of people who were offended by Calebs comment and again Caleb was interviewed by after buzz and they discussed the fact that many people were offended and hurt by his use of the word retard. Caleb attempted a lame apology, one I’m sure would not have been offered had he not been told about the back lash of his ignorant comment! Nevertheless, he indicated he was sorry, did not mean to offend anyone, it was stupid and a poor choice of word to use! Sound scripted to anyone?
It is painful to watch both clips of Caleb using the offensive word, and equally as painful to hear him attempt to apologize, which for the many I heard from also felt it was insufficient!
To add salt to the wound, though after buzz does indicated Caleb was wrong to use this word, and it did feel like it was directed at his fans. Which Caleb also indicated he loved his fans and wouldn’t be here if not for his fans! This in fact is very true! If not for the fans, none of the contestants would be there!
But after buzz then goes on to make excuses for Caleb! And this is just as disturbing as the word and insult Caleb brought!
After buzz said that they thought many of the fans would find it amusing! They also said that many of the fans are older, one even indicating his grandmother, and that these fans would not be on social media, and it would not have an affect on Caleb’s chances of moving on or even winning.
So why am I so upset about all of this? Here’s why!
I have been a devoted American idol fan for all 13 seasons! I am 50 yrs old with two amazing adult sons, 23 and 26. My 23 yr old son lives with a developmental disability! We have spent the past 23 yrs working on educating the public on how the type of terminology Caleb used is unacceptable in today’s society!
And yes, when my son heard this comment by Caleb, he was shocked, angry, and offended!
As were many other people! You only need to read the comments on the American idol Facebook page to see just how many, and how upset people were with Caleb!
Further more, Caleb is not a child, he is an adult, and as an adult, accountable for his actions! Dealing with this issue in an interview after the show by after buzz, which one must subscribe to in order to see it, or search for it on line. Most of the individuals who Caleb needs to apologize to will never see that video. Which doesn’t appear to be an authentic apology anyway, but a forced one due to the controversy he caused!
Caleb knows right from wrong! Yet chose not to display that with his comments. In fact in the videos he comes off as an arrogant self righteous prick! Who cares only about himself and has no regard for the repercussions felt by others who were offended by his comment, or the after buzz staff comments for that matter!
As a mother of a child living with a disability, I took to twitter to along with others to bring forth this issues and what it means to those who deal with disabilities and arrogant self righteous people like Caleb!
The reaction was mixed. But the support out weighed the negative!
The youth of today have no regard for respect, accountability, or anything more then themselves! And Caleb is an example of this!
Is this freedom of speech? I suppose there are many who feel it is, and it is his right to use whatever language he chooses! But at what cost? Caleb obviously retained sufficient votes to move on. Though he definately did lose votes from offended fans. So there is little chance he will give this situation a second thought! He got away with it! So nothing will change for Caleb!
But what about American idol? Do they not have a responsibility to the public, the fans to ensure sufficient damage control? Again, if not for their fans, they’d have no show! But what has happened here is that those of us offended by Caleb’s choice of word, are the minority. An entity as big as American idol could care a less about the minor group of people in the minority who were offended. As we are not enough to create a drastic change in the show! In other words, we don’t matter!
American idol has gone through many changes this season. It has the lowest ratings ever! All public information that can be found on twitter or a google search. The consensus on these changes vary. But for me personally, I am happy with some of the changes but not all! I do really like and enjoy the three judges they have on this S13. Harry Con. Jr. is very invested in his role as a judge, and is good in his critiquing of the contestants. But he’s also extremely funny and entertaining! Jlo is the same ole Jlo. She tends to want to always only point out the positives of a performance providing only the most obvious issues of each performance. And Keith Urban also tends to provide a well balance of compliments and critiques. But this has only applied to the live rounds.
The judges were responsible for who made it to Hollywood and who made it to the final top 12. This year there was a huge lack of talent! And that onus is on the judges! The first several weeks of live rounds was horrible! The talent was lacking, and the judges were lacking in critiquing the contestants. It was painful to watch! There is still not the degree of talent this season that we have been used to in the past 12 yrs! And this falls on the judges! At some point, the judges must have had a meeting or something about this very topic. Because in the past few weeks, they have been more honest about the performances and what is lacking! Many people have shared that the judges should have worked with the contestants each week somewhat to help show them what was expected of them, and still be able to judge them after each performance!
Randy has been the idols “mentor” for the most part this year, replacing Jimmy Ivine. And Randy has not mentored like Jimmy did. Causing less then stellar performances from the contestants! There were a few special guest mentors, but they did little to provide much improvement with the performances.
Also new this season is a group of savvy Internet people who call themselves the Idoltweethearts. This group has probably been the best change idol has made. From what I can tell, this groups purpose is to engage with the fans via social media, promote American idol and the contestants! They have been a fun group to tweet with, and have lended an ear should anyone wish to discuss anything regarding idol. I have connected with them, and have a great deal of respect for this group. Though some more then others! But they do listen!
One aspect of change I really hate is the instant vote. This is a digital voting system that enables fans to vote for their favorite immediately once idol airs! Which then changes the concept of the show. No one should be voting until they have heard all the performances, then base their vote on who they feel performed the best! Sure there will be fans voting for any contestant that comes from their home town/state whatever. But there are also people voting in the instant vote for contestants because they just think that person is cute! Or some other reason that is unrelated to their actual performance. I know this as I asked several people who used the instant vote how thy could vote having not yet heard all the performances? And that was what I was told! So it begs the question, is idol really a talent singing competition, or a popularity contest? With the option of this instant vote, it is a popularity contest!
Which brings me back to Caleb. Many argued idol was a singing competition not a personality or popularity contest! Sorry, wrong! By having the instant vote it is a personality/popularity contest! Which makes the comments Caleb made even worse!
So having said all that, I again come back to who is held accountable when something goes wrong? It’s not the role of the idoltweethearts, idol has a responsibility to ensure after buzz interviews and comments are appropriate and have failed to do so. And what many don’t understand is that the contestants on American idol represent American idol. They represent the idol brand! So why then did they not force Caleb to publicly apologize live on air so that everyone would have been able to hear his apology?
It is disturbing to think that a show that has been around for 13 yrs, chooses to ignore the minority of people who were/are offended by a member of their brand! And as indicated, Caleb came off as an arrogant self righteous prick when approached by the idol after buzz interviews!
Perhaps forcing him to stand on stage in front of millions of people and publicly apologize to first, the individual whose tweet was referenced and whom lives with Down’s syndrome, and second, the rest of us who have had to deal with this type of bullying our entire lives! Or at least the lives of our loved ones!
It’s 2014, Caleb knows better! And should be made accountable for what and how he made those comments! Perhaps putting him in an uncomfortable position would have taught him the lesson better.
And to those who feel these contestants are young, overwhelmed, not taught how to communicate with the media or the fame that comes with being a contestant, not good enough! This generation of individuals live in a world of entitlement! But just because they made a spot on a popular tv show, does not give them the right to disrespect the fans, utter rude offensive comments, and not be held accountable for what they do or say!
In today’s society, and this instant fame they think they have, overwhelmed or not, should not be on that stage if they can not conduct themselves appropriately! And idol also bears the responsibility to ensure this! But have failed to do so in this instance!
When in the public eye, each needs to be careful with what they say and do! No one will convince me they do not know this!
And shame on idol. It has used various causes to raise money for, Ryan Seacrest has his own foundation, idol is fully aware of people out there who are not as fortunate as thy are or their contestants!
Idol showed no compassion toward this individual whose tweet was referenced. Idol ignored the public out cry by a minority group!
If the judges had given half the amount of compassion to this minority group or this individual who was referenced by Caleb publicly, it would have done wonders! But no! They chose not too!
And I know they have it within them. These judges are caring individuals. But failed a group of fans on this one!
So after 13 yrs of being a devoted fan, I do not think there will be a 14th season for this fan! All because idol chose the cowardly approach! And did not address a serious issue for many!
And if there are not improvements in season 14, I can not see idol getting a season 15.
It’s sad really! I realize I’m only one small voice. Out of millions. And anything I have to say on behalf of our own opinion and that of others I have communicated with over this issue, will never make a difference.
But at least I can live with myself knowing I tried!
Idol should try it some time! May have better ratings!
People will be remembered more so for what they didn’t say or do, then what they did say or do!