Sir Elton John, a guest judge on the United States talent hunt TV series American Idol in April, said he found the voting by the national viewing audience "incredibly racist".
John, who heard the wannabe popstars perform his songs during an appearance on the Fox TV show, added his voice on Tuesday to a chorus of dissent that followed last week's shock exit of black vocalist Jennifer Hudson, considered one of the top talents among those vying for a recording contract.
"The three people I was really impressed with, and they just happened to be black, young female singers, all seem to be landing in the bottom three," said John, commenting on the tally in which the lowest contest with the least votes is eliminated.
"They have great voices. The fact that they're constantly in the bottom three - and I don't want to set myself up here - but I find it incredibly racist," the star said at a New York news conference promoting his Radio City Music Hall concert. During the concert, he will be backed by an orchestra of students from London's Royal Academy of Music and the Juilliard School of New York, reports iol.co.za
The problems on Idol aren't "hanging chads" or jammed voting machines but text messaging and busy signals. After the three singers rated highest by judges finished at the bottom last week, fans complained about unfair rules. They said some viewers manage to vote over and over again using land lines and cell phone text messaging, while other fans get busy signals during the two-hour voting period after each Tuesday night show. Others questioned whether the voting was biased against African-Americans, who were the bottom three, or in favor of the youngest singers, who finished on top.
Idol's producers hardly instill confidence. Since the show's debut, they've refused to release a breakdown of votes received by each contestant. Last week, they wouldn't even disclose the total number of votes cast.
Sure, American Idol is just a TV show. But one person's trivial program is another's passion. And people grow more apathetic if they think their views are being ignored — or intentionally skewed.
That's as true in the world of reality TV as it is in real life, inform usatoday.com