Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The American Idol Quitting Controversy

Well, here is your big scandal of American Idol Season 4. Why on earth would Mario Vazquez, the guy many thought had a good chance to win it all, leave the show after making it to the Top 12? What are the "personal reasons" he cited? A lot of rumors and possibilities have been tossed around. I am going to toss around my own possibility. I think that Mario Vazquez might be gay and that his "personal reasons" may be related to that.

Homosexuality is something that American Idol has never really dealt with. In the four years I've seen the show, I have never seen one openly gay American Idol contestant. This is incredibly surprising considering the thousands and thousands of people that have auditioned for the past four years. There had to be some gay people that auditioned for the show and maybe some that made it to Hollywood. However, if any of them have been gay, none of them have been open about it. The only time American Idol remotely dealt with homosexuality was when Clay Aiken continually denied rumors that he was gay.

Why would being gay be a big issue for American Idol? Well, I think it's because of American Idol's status as a family-friendly show that appeals across demographics. This is a show that has booted people for appearing on porn websites, being accused of assault, and for driving drunk. There was a mild controversy last season because Fantasia was an unmarried woman with a young daughter. Basically, the contestants have to have a wholesome appeal to them. In the minds of much of America, wholesome and homosexuality do not go together. And if one of the top 12 contestants was revealed to be gay...American Idol would probably have a controversy much worse than any of the racial stuff over the years. Right-wing groups would boycott the show. The ratings could go down, especially in areas outside of major markets. The contestant would be subject to hate mail, death threats, and his/her physical safety could be at risk. If the contestant gets voted off the show, questions of discrimination (similar to those that were asked when three black women were in the bottom three) will be asked. The producers might even be pressured to boot the contestant off the show just to save face. The whole thing would be rather pathetic, especially since Pop Idol, the British show that inspired American Idol, has had an openly gay contestant with (I guess) no problem.

I don't know Mario Vazquez and I don't know if he is gay or not. I am just speculating as to his reasons for leaving American Idol. Who knows...maybe this was a big publicity stunt on his part. After all, he wouldn't be in the spotlight as much at this stage of the game unless he left the show. I've seen stories on him on every entertainment news program. He's appeared on Regis and Kelly and my sister and I watched as he read the "Top Ten Reasons Why I Quit American Idol" on The Late Show with David Letterman...and only got to number four before leaving the stage. More people now know Mario's name than they did before. And by making his "personal reasons" purposely vague, he has encouraged people like myself to wonder what the hell they really are. Could he really be that savvy?

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