The answer is undeniably – Yes.
I have watched American Idol since season 2. Through the years, I have noticed that the producers and the judges have their favorites, and try to control the outcome of America’s votes by swaying the opinion of the audience in a variety of ways. The way the producers paint the contestants’ back stories and backstage (and hometown visit) footage. The questions Ryan asks the contestants. The judges’ pronouncements during various TV interviews of who will be in the finale – before America has voted. The dishonest, subjective, often meandering or nonsensical judgments of performances.
In the case of Casey James, often there was no judgment of his performance at all. From day one, the producers and judges have painted Casey James as “the pretty boy who cannot really sing but plays okay guitar.” The producers and the judges continued this story-line throughout the competition, reinforcing it every chance they got.
It started during his audition, when Kara – purported singing competition judge – asked him to unbutton his shirt. If Casey were a woman, there would have been cries of sexual harassment across the country.
When Casey did a quite good rendition of “Mrs. Robinson” in “movie song” week, there was no critique of his performance, there were jokes about an older woman, younger guy (Kara and Casey?) – ha ha.
When they showed the edited footage of the top three’s (Lee DeWyze, Crystal Bowersox, and Casey James) hometown visits, pains were taken to show mostly shots of women cooing and screaming at Casey. The one TV or radio interview question they aired, out of all the questions he was asked, was “Do you have a girlfriend?”
There was absolutely no footage of his performances at home, the performances that show him to be the real entertainer that he is, a blues guitarist and singer with exceptional talent that could not be boiled down to 90 second performances of pre-selected pop music. [One can’t do a guitar riff if one has only 90 seconds and part of that has to be singing.] But. The producers showed footage of Crystal singing on her home visit. They upped the ante for Lee’s home visit (Lee is the new chosen one, after the producers have decided that Crystal, the resident “hippy,” is too polarizing and may not sell as many records.) Not only did they show Lee singing, they gave his footage a soundtrack – “The Boxer” – that is the American Idol story of a poor boy leaving home – leading into Lee’s actual performance of the song. If that’s not stacking the deck, I do not know what is.
If they had shown Casey’s performances in his hometown visit, safe from the judges’ critiques, not squashed into 90 seconds – just Casey at a hometown bar playing some awesome blues with a look of pure joy on his face…
America would have seen this.
American Idol did not want to show this to America. Because it would undermine their top-two decision and the story they have built about Casey James all season long.
Because the “pretty boy” plays a mean guitar and he can indeed sing.