Idol Fan Response: Overreaction or Underreaction?
I’m not an American Idol fan and I haven’t watched the show since season 4. However, it was impossible to avoid the fan response to the result of last night’s finale. It seems a lot of people think that the runner-up, Adam Lambert, was the runner-up and not the winner because of homophobia on the part of the voters.
As was made clear last weekend, I don’t always have the same music taste as the public. It’s upsetting when there’s a difference but I deal with it and don’t cry for a recount. But I get the feeling that some of these fans online are overreacting. They’re acting a lot like Clay Aiken fans back in 2003 when he got to second place, and Clay Aiken fans are supposed to be the loony fanatics of the Idol fandom. I should know, I was one of them – I bought his first album though I haven’t bought any others.
However in just blaming a block vote of homophobia, people are forgetting two other blocks of voters. First, pre-teens and teens, who as the media says to us, send a lot of text messages, and text messages are more likely to get through than phone votes. Second, a good amount of votes (between 38 and 40 percent, depending on who says it), came from Arkansas, the winner’s home state. Frankly, that’s more troubling to me than any of the other theories – that the winner is the one with more hometown/home state support rather than the one with support across the country. I wonder if it would be possible to weight the votes from each state, like with the Electoral College used in presidential elections (and yes it is appropriate to make that comparison because who I’m sick of the “more people vote for American Idol than the President” complaint because more people can vote in Idol the only thing you need to be eligible to vote in that is a phone line). That way they can have an extended voting sequence, and who doesn’t love that? It also makes the whole process more transparent, because they have never actually released the vote totals ever as far as I know.
Or maybe it’s just I’ve spent too much time reading posts by Eurovision fans who say that people will vote for their country or their neighbors no matter what they put on stage, just replacing “country” with “state”, and immediately expecting an outcry about “regional voting” and being really confused when I don’t find one.