Does American Idol Exploit Mentally Ill?


That’s the question on my mind today after watching the season premiere of “American Idol”, which broadcast the first round of auditions last night. Since my best friend, Sarah, seems to enjoy “American Idol” I go along with watching the show, even though sometimes it makes me wretch. Sometimes they put through some of the dopiest people who have mediocre talent at best. Obviously, the show is driven by ratings and clearly freaks drive up the ratings.

Now in its seventh season, “American Idol” has had more than its share of eclectic contestants like Sherman Pore who sang “You Belong to Me” last season for the love of his life. Sherman gathered petitions to be able to sing on AI to brighten her day. She died two days before Sherman’s audition, but as he sang it was truly a beautiful moment, even though the Sherman was a terrible singer (There’s a special video of Sherman’s performance for y’all at the end of this post!)

There have also been people who have dressed in odd outfits to get the judges’ attention, including Ben Haar of Delaware (see photo below) who wore some crazy outfit and then went and got his chest hair waxed off at Paula’s suggestion. Clearly, Haar was there on a bet…I hope he got his Nintendo Wii or whatever he was supposed to get for looking like this on television.

Fox TV

Yet there are contestants who really and truly believe they have talent, like 23 year-old Alexis Cohen from my hometown of Allentown, PA. “American Idol” cameras showed the one room apartment she shares with her mother in downtown Allentown (the downtown area is economically challenged). Alexis appears to sleep on the couch in this crappy hole-in-the-wall apartment. Obviously, this young woman has a rough go of things and is looking for a way out. Judging by her appearance and demeanor, I can tell that something’s not right with this girl.

She performs “Somebody to Love” by Grace Slick for the judges, who are pretty nice to her considering, saying that her voice would be better suited for a rocky cover band (I agree. She would be excellent doing some Janis Joplin or Joan Jett covers). She takes the news well initially, but as soon as she leaves the audition room, she freaks out completely by cussing Simon, ranting, raving, and giving the finger repeatedly. Naturally, the “American Idol” powers-that-be decide that this is great and show prolonged scenes of Alexis’ outrage, and even use it as a teaser before the actual clip airs. As I watched Alexis, I felt so bad for her. She made a complete fool of herself. I turned to Sarah and said, “That girl needs some anger management classes.” Sarah nodded in agreement.

Fox TV
This is a picture of 23 year-old Alexis Cohen. She dresses pretty cool.

As I thought about Alexis and the fact that she lives only a few minutes from me, (and incorrectly thinks that the song “Allentown” was sung by Van Halen, when in fact, it’s Billy Joel) I decided that she and I would probably get along pretty well. She seems to adore animals even saying that she loves her cats more than herself, which broke my heart, because I wanted her to love herself.

I ruminated on Alexis, her mannerisms, her statements, and her singing. She seems to suffer from manic depression, anger issues, and some other things (I don’t want to give an official diagnosis to someone I’ve only seen on T.V.). If bipolar, she seemed to be in a state of mania with grandiose ideas of fame, invincibility, and oodles of energy. After seeing where Alexis lives and how she reacted to being rejected from Hollywood, I am shocked that “American Idol” would choose to air the seven minute clip of Alexis (posted below), which shows a woman who has obviously suffered quite a bit.

Alexis wasn’t the only contestant whose mental stability I wondered about. There was also a bloke named Milo Turk, who was not only over the age limit but also wanted to sing an original piece he composed called “No Sex Allowed.” He says he’s a social worker in Atlantic City, NJ, which makes me wonder about the social services inNew Jersey. His song was pretty bad, both lyrically and musically. I had to admit that it made me laugh because it reminded me of some crappy Christian songs I’ve heard in the past. Milo, like Alexis, seems to be mentally ill or something (See video of Milo below).

Last on my list is 22 year-old James Lewis who lives in Philly. He’s probably one of the worst singers I’ve ever heard as he does a weird version of “Go Down, Moses”. Randy and Paula erupt into hysterical laughter, while Simon looks deeply disturbed. James stares at Randy and Paula with confusion as they laugh, as if he doesn’t quite understand what’s going on. He then asks if he should sing another song, or if he should sing more and continues belting out “Go Down, Moses.” On his exit interview, Lewis says that he will probably try out again next year (Lewis audition below).

Looking at these three individuals, I am convinced that “American Idol” doesn’t do a good job screening its contestants, or maybe the show’s producers just don’t care. There are people out there who clearly like to make themselves look stupid, and then there are people like James Lewis, who clearly have no idea they are untalented. Why, oh why, do these clips get aired? Yes, sometimes bad talent is funny, some people just want to get on television, and some contestants are just plain annoying. But Alexis, Milo, and James are mentally disturbed and putting them on “American Idol”amounts to exploiting their illness. True, they made the choice to be on the show…but it doesn’t seem like a very rational choice, does it? If these folks are truly suffering from mental illness, can they be trusted to make a rational choices anyway?

I’m not saying that the mentally ill should be excluded from “American Idol”. In fact, in 2004, Tracy Moore who suffers from schizophrenia tried out for “American Idol” and made the first cut (story here). But Moore didn’t have a breakdown in front of the judges or as she was leaving the room. Why? Because Moore is in treatment and is stable enough to handle life outside the fishbowl.

Some mentally ill people are not stable, and go on shows like “American Idol” broadcasting their instability to millions of people who laugh and mock them. It’s not funny. Mental illness is debilitating, not an entertaining spectacle for the American public. I would never go on “American Idol” because I’m probably not a strong enough singer, and also I would be crippled by the judges’ criticism. Even as a mentally ill woman, I can admit and know that because I am highly intelligent and high functioning (in most areas anyway. I can hide my shortcomings fairly well) that I should not try out for “American Idol.” But not every mentally ill person is the same, especially someone who is bipolar in a state of mania!

The justice system allows for individuals to plead guilty by reason of insanity for crimes they commit. It seems like “American Idol” should offer the same grace to their contestants–“bad singer by reason of insanity” or just throw out the footage of these people who have meltdowns. Until then, “American Idol” is just another media outlet that exploits the mentally ill to get good ratings.

Here’s the Sherman Pole “You Belong to Me” audition video:

0 thoughts on “Does American Idol Exploit Mentally Ill?

  1. I think that American Idol is entertainment and peoples reactions to rejection are all across the board so it would be expected that some less rational people flip out. I don’t think Amerian Idol deserves to be accused of exploiting the mentally ill.

  2. I think that American Idol is entertainment and peoples reactions to rejection are all across the board so it would be expected that some less rational people flip out. I don’t think Amerian Idol deserves to be accused of exploiting the mentally ill.

  3. Regarding one of your suspect contestents, Milo Turk, Mr. No Sex Allowed. He’s apparently quite the phenom — here’s his MySpace page which will take you to the rest.

    No, I’m not a fan. It’s just that he claimed to be 39 and I am 39. And I was slightly horrified.

  4. Regarding one of your suspect contestents, Milo Turk, Mr. No Sex Allowed. He’s apparently quite the phenom — here’s his MySpace page which will take you to the rest.

    No, I’m not a fan. It’s just that he claimed to be 39 and I am 39. And I was slightly horrified.

  5. My sister probably has Aspergers’ Syndrome (High I.Q. , but social Problems) , but also is suffering from the death of our Father 3 years ago. She lived with her mom , who is Schitzophrenic , for her whole life , which I think could have affected her.

  6. My sister probably has Aspergers’ Syndrome (High I.Q. , but social Problems) , but also is suffering from the death of our Father 3 years ago. She lived with her mom , who is Schitzophrenic , for her whole life , which I think could have affected her.

  7. One word: editing

    They showed Cohen on one of the “entertainment” shows tonight and she looked 100% different than the audition this summer. I think most people have seen the shows and know what gets them TV time.

  8. One word: editing

    They showed Cohen on one of the “entertainment” shows tonight and she looked 100% different than the audition this summer. I think most people have seen the shows and know what gets them TV time.

  9. I am an advocate of the rights of the mentally ill and I think the kind of reaction you had to these auditions really fuels the stigma of mental illness. People have a right to act in a way that you might perceive as strange, and this does not make them mentally ill. In fact, the key criteria that determines whether someone has an illness is if it impairs daily functioning.

    What you are doing here is criticizing Alexis Cohen for what appears to be a style choice, Milo for his beliefs/messages about abstinence, and James for having the courage to try singing even though he may not be the most articulate singer. These people are allowed to do this. I do not see any obvious signs of mental illness, and if I did they still have the right to pursue their interests provided they are not incompetent (in a severe way) or dangerous to themselves/others.

    These people don’t even seem mentally ill, by the way, and you are saying that just because they are acting in a weird manner, you think they are (and you even tried to diagnose Alexis). Do you understand that if you point fingers at all of the strange people in the world and accuse them of mental illness, you are perpetuating a stigma that the mentally ill are strange/bizarre? You are associating mental illness with every strange image you see, regardless of whether or not it is true.

    And, assuming they are mentally ill (which I really dont think to be the case), by asking that their footage be destroyed you are isolating them from society instead of allowing them to be assimilated like normal people would.

  10. I am an advocate of the rights of the mentally ill and I think the kind of reaction you had to these auditions really fuels the stigma of mental illness. People have a right to act in a way that you might perceive as strange, and this does not make them mentally ill. In fact, the key criteria that determines whether someone has an illness is if it impairs daily functioning.

    What you are doing here is criticizing Alexis Cohen for what appears to be a style choice, Milo for his beliefs/messages about abstinence, and James for having the courage to try singing even though he may not be the most articulate singer. These people are allowed to do this. I do not see any obvious signs of mental illness, and if I did they still have the right to pursue their interests provided they are not incompetent (in a severe way) or dangerous to themselves/others.

    These people don’t even seem mentally ill, by the way, and you are saying that just because they are acting in a weird manner, you think they are (and you even tried to diagnose Alexis). Do you understand that if you point fingers at all of the strange people in the world and accuse them of mental illness, you are perpetuating a stigma that the mentally ill are strange/bizarre? You are associating mental illness with every strange image you see, regardless of whether or not it is true.

    And, assuming they are mentally ill (which I really dont think to be the case), by asking that their footage be destroyed you are isolating them from society instead of allowing them to be assimilated like normal people would.

  11. DB,

    Thank you for all your advocacy in the mental health community. I am sure you do fine work and help improve the lives of others.

    I believe our general beliefs about mental illness is what drive you and me. Not everyone who acts strange is mentally ill (I have worked with teenagers!), but a lot of mentally ill people can act strange. While I have no problem with mentally ill people acting strange, I do have a problem with that strangeness being broadcast on television as entertainment.

    Therefore, I would like to defend the statements I made in my original post. Yes, Alexis Cohen does suffer from mental illness, which has been confirmed by her family and family friends (even in this comments section). While I may not officially diagnose her, when I worked as a therapist I did get paid to make provisional diagnoses before they were confirmed by a psychiatrist. By observing her (and other people) on AI, I notice what could be symptoms according to the DSM-IV-R and make assumptions based on that. I was clear that I was not diagnosing her or anyone else, just making a guess based on what I observed.

    Second, I am not criticizing Milo for his beliefs about abstinence. If you had read more of the posts on my blog, you would note that I myself am a strong proponent of abstinence and purity. His song was terrible and ridiculous.

    Third, James did not seem to understand that Paula and Randy were MOCKING him. That seems to be an indication to me that he wasn’t clear on what was going on or had awkward social skills at best. To me, it was sad that was broadcast on T.V. because he looked foolish and didn’t even “get” it.

    You’re right, these people may not have all been mentally ill–they could have also been mentally challenge (which is the PC way of saying “slow”). I am not pointing fingers at all the strange people in the world; I happen to love and appreciate strange people. However, many of the “strange” people I met have and do suffer from underlying mental illness. A lot of them can and do function well in society. My problem with these three individuals on AI was not that they were mentally ill, but the fact that they were clearly having difficulty and their difficulty was show to be entertaining to the whole wide world.

    Since you do not know me or all the other strange images I see, it seems like a bit of a leap to say that I associate mental illness with every strange image I see. I see lots of strange images all the time and do not associate them with mental illness, but I do comment on the strange images I do see that seem to indicate mental illness.

    I do not want to isolate the mentally ill from society. I think we need more mentally ill out there doing things, because yes, many mentally ill folks function just fine…even ones who run on the stranger side of the spectrum. I am asking that when people who are clearly unaware that they are acting ridiculous and don’t seem to fully grasp was is going on be given grace.

  12. DB,

    Thank you for all your advocacy in the mental health community. I am sure you do fine work and help improve the lives of others.

    I believe our general beliefs about mental illness is what drive you and me. Not everyone who acts strange is mentally ill (I have worked with teenagers!), but a lot of mentally ill people can act strange. While I have no problem with mentally ill people acting strange, I do have a problem with that strangeness being broadcast on television as entertainment.

    Therefore, I would like to defend the statements I made in my original post. Yes, Alexis Cohen does suffer from mental illness, which has been confirmed by her family and family friends (even in this comments section). While I may not officially diagnose her, when I worked as a therapist I did get paid to make provisional diagnoses before they were confirmed by a psychiatrist. By observing her (and other people) on AI, I notice what could be symptoms according to the DSM-IV-R and make assumptions based on that. I was clear that I was not diagnosing her or anyone else, just making a guess based on what I observed.

    Second, I am not criticizing Milo for his beliefs about abstinence. If you had read more of the posts on my blog, you would note that I myself am a strong proponent of abstinence and purity. His song was terrible and ridiculous.

    Third, James did not seem to understand that Paula and Randy were MOCKING him. That seems to be an indication to me that he wasn’t clear on what was going on or had awkward social skills at best. To me, it was sad that was broadcast on T.V. because he looked foolish and didn’t even “get” it.

    You’re right, these people may not have all been mentally ill–they could have also been mentally challenge (which is the PC way of saying “slow”). I am not pointing fingers at all the strange people in the world; I happen to love and appreciate strange people. However, many of the “strange” people I met have and do suffer from underlying mental illness. A lot of them can and do function well in society. My problem with these three individuals on AI was not that they were mentally ill, but the fact that they were clearly having difficulty and their difficulty was show to be entertaining to the whole wide world.

    Since you do not know me or all the other strange images I see, it seems like a bit of a leap to say that I associate mental illness with every strange image I see. I see lots of strange images all the time and do not associate them with mental illness, but I do comment on the strange images I do see that seem to indicate mental illness.

    I do not want to isolate the mentally ill from society. I think we need more mentally ill out there doing things, because yes, many mentally ill folks function just fine…even ones who run on the stranger side of the spectrum. I am asking that when people who are clearly unaware that they are acting ridiculous and don’t seem to fully grasp was is going on be given grace.

  13. First of all I am not a fan of the show. I’m just not, but I happen to catch the first episode. I broke down into tears once I saw how RUDE and OUTRAGEOUS Paula and Randy were acting toward JAMES LEWIS. I wish they would have given him the respect to let him know the competition wasn’t right for him and that if he loved to sing he should continue to do it! They were such a**holes!!! JAMES LEWIS YOU ARE AWESOME AND I APPRECIATE YOUR COURAGE TO STAND IN FRONT OF THOSE JUDGES!!

  14. First of all I am not a fan of the show. I’m just not, but I happen to catch the first episode. I broke down into tears once I saw how RUDE and OUTRAGEOUS Paula and Randy were acting toward JAMES LEWIS. I wish they would have given him the respect to let him know the competition wasn’t right for him and that if he loved to sing he should continue to do it! They were such a**holes!!! JAMES LEWIS YOU ARE AWESOME AND I APPRECIATE YOUR COURAGE TO STAND IN FRONT OF THOSE JUDGES!!

  15. Thanks for that response to DB…you said everything i wanted to say and more. as an advocate for people who have mental illness I am appalled at the last 3 season’s auditions. it is so very clear that the producers are explointing these individual’s ignorance of the fact that they cannot sing and are not able to discern that fact. as far as your “diagnosis”…you are right on and very perceptive. as a matter of fact there was one other woman they profiled who so obviously suffered with what appeared to be a PDD (asperger’s likely) that i was near tears by the end of her auditions…she seemed to be somewhat aware of her limitations but it was clear she was confused and had been convinced that she had a chance at the auditions. i am talking about the woman with long brown hair with very flat affect and delayed speech. it was just aweful. i was hopeful that this season would be better but was sorely disappointed and will likely not watch again at least until the finals.

  16. Thanks for that response to DB…you said everything i wanted to say and more. as an advocate for people who have mental illness I am appalled at the last 3 season’s auditions. it is so very clear that the producers are explointing these individual’s ignorance of the fact that they cannot sing and are not able to discern that fact. as far as your “diagnosis”…you are right on and very perceptive. as a matter of fact there was one other woman they profiled who so obviously suffered with what appeared to be a PDD (asperger’s likely) that i was near tears by the end of her auditions…she seemed to be somewhat aware of her limitations but it was clear she was confused and had been convinced that she had a chance at the auditions. i am talking about the woman with long brown hair with very flat affect and delayed speech. it was just aweful. i was hopeful that this season would be better but was sorely disappointed and will likely not watch again at least until the finals.

  17. i used to work with her, shes not right in the head… shes a nut job and is unstable… im surprized they even let her audition…

  18. i used to work with her, shes not right in the head… shes a nut job and is unstable… im surprized they even let her audition…

  19. AB, did you mean Tammy Tuzinski? I wondered the same thing about her flat affect since my son, who has PDD NOS, has at times shown the flat affect. I wanted to hug Ms. Tuzinski, she seems very sweet.

  20. AB, did you mean Tammy Tuzinski? I wondered the same thing about her flat affect since my son, who has PDD NOS, has at times shown the flat affect. I wanted to hug Ms. Tuzinski, she seems very sweet.

  21. The Tracy Moore you refer to in your story is my daughter and I feel compelled to make a comment. American Idol and essentially all shows like it are a vehicle to make the producers money. They have very little shame in abusing any person who is willing to take them up on the offer of an audition. While I find the behavior of the people involved with the show rather reprehensible, they clearly post information about what they are going to do to contestants. After doing that they put people in a large room and announce that someone is going to win and it could be you! Human nature being what it is, that hope springs eternal in those who lack any sort of talent. Mean spirited, abusive, opportunistic, yes, but in a strange sort of way fueling the competitive nature of our culture. Doing this is not for the meek.

    Tracy’s experience was uplifting to the extent that Simon Cowell said she could sing well, but not well enough to make it to ‘Hollywood’. For her, that was good enough. Her illness did not figure into her performance as schizophrenia, while thought to impair mental acuity, is really not that at all, many with the disease are well above average in intelligence, often gifted in many ways. Some before her were insulted and degraded, but let it be known that they were all warned before taking their chances in front of a critic. I am more concerned with the response that we have as a society to the end product when we know full well what went into making that product.

    Fame and the seeking of it is a nasty business. We only need look at the trail of broken lives that results in some people when they seek something that they cannot really appreciate will do to their lives.

  22. The Tracy Moore you refer to in your story is my daughter and I feel compelled to make a comment. American Idol and essentially all shows like it are a vehicle to make the producers money. They have very little shame in abusing any person who is willing to take them up on the offer of an audition. While I find the behavior of the people involved with the show rather reprehensible, they clearly post information about what they are going to do to contestants. After doing that they put people in a large room and announce that someone is going to win and it could be you! Human nature being what it is, that hope springs eternal in those who lack any sort of talent. Mean spirited, abusive, opportunistic, yes, but in a strange sort of way fueling the competitive nature of our culture. Doing this is not for the meek.

    Tracy’s experience was uplifting to the extent that Simon Cowell said she could sing well, but not well enough to make it to ‘Hollywood’. For her, that was good enough. Her illness did not figure into her performance as schizophrenia, while thought to impair mental acuity, is really not that at all, many with the disease are well above average in intelligence, often gifted in many ways. Some before her were insulted and degraded, but let it be known that they were all warned before taking their chances in front of a critic. I am more concerned with the response that we have as a society to the end product when we know full well what went into making that product.

    Fame and the seeking of it is a nasty business. We only need look at the trail of broken lives that results in some people when they seek something that they cannot really appreciate will do to their lives.

  23. I find it reprehensible that you condemn a tv show for abusing and ridiculing people and then you turn around and publically announce that these people are mentally handicapped.

    You saw them on air for 7 minutes and you’ve apparently taken it upon yourself to out them as handicapped.

    Personally I’m not sure which I find more insulting, the fact that you call them mentally unstable or the fact that you defend yourself doing so.

    It of course did not occur to you at all that 1) they were hamming for an audience 2) got their 15 minutes (or 7) of fame or 3) really thought they could sing but learned a lesson.

    Frankly, maybe they are mentally ill.. maybe they aren’t.. I certainly wouldn’t write an article in public saying that they were while standing on my soapbox abusing and using those same people while I pretend to defend them.

    In closing, if you’re gonna preach to the choir make sure you don’t use the same song they’re singin.

  24. I find it reprehensible that you condemn a tv show for abusing and ridiculing people and then you turn around and publically announce that these people are mentally handicapped.

    You saw them on air for 7 minutes and you’ve apparently taken it upon yourself to out them as handicapped.

    Personally I’m not sure which I find more insulting, the fact that you call them mentally unstable or the fact that you defend yourself doing so.

    It of course did not occur to you at all that 1) they were hamming for an audience 2) got their 15 minutes (or 7) of fame or 3) really thought they could sing but learned a lesson.

    Frankly, maybe they are mentally ill.. maybe they aren’t.. I certainly wouldn’t write an article in public saying that they were while standing on my soapbox abusing and using those same people while I pretend to defend them.

    In closing, if you’re gonna preach to the choir make sure you don’t use the same song they’re singin.

  25. Wow. Thanks for the comment. I think it’s cool when people have the guts to calll me out and question what I say. Seriously, I respect that.

    I would like to point out that there’s a question mark at the end of the post title, meaning that the post is a question. Yes, I think AI exploits the mentally ill, and apparently you do not think so. Fine, we disagree.

    Second, I did not “out” these people as handicapped or anything else. I merely speculated that they could be. I observed that something did not seem right, and yes, I did consider whether or not they were hamming it up for the camera. However, something about the three people I chose to talk about struck me and I commented on them. Yes, it’s risky. I’ve stated time and again, that I was not diagnosing anyone, but making observations based on the evidence.

    Some people have the same observations, some don’t.

    Yes, I wrote an blog post about the issue because I think it is an important one to think upon and discuss. It was not my intention to use or to abuse these individuals.

    All I want to do is consider how AI treats contestants (and if you read the follow-up posts, you will see more about this) and if people can handle things emotionally.

    Every hard lesson doesn’t need to be learned in front of millions of people.

  26. Wow. Thanks for the comment. I think it’s cool when people have the guts to calll me out and question what I say. Seriously, I respect that.

    I would like to point out that there’s a question mark at the end of the post title, meaning that the post is a question. Yes, I think AI exploits the mentally ill, and apparently you do not think so. Fine, we disagree.

    Second, I did not “out” these people as handicapped or anything else. I merely speculated that they could be. I observed that something did not seem right, and yes, I did consider whether or not they were hamming it up for the camera. However, something about the three people I chose to talk about struck me and I commented on them. Yes, it’s risky. I’ve stated time and again, that I was not diagnosing anyone, but making observations based on the evidence.

    Some people have the same observations, some don’t.

    Yes, I wrote an blog post about the issue because I think it is an important one to think upon and discuss. It was not my intention to use or to abuse these individuals.

    All I want to do is consider how AI treats contestants (and if you read the follow-up posts, you will see more about this) and if people can handle things emotionally.

    Every hard lesson doesn’t need to be learned in front of millions of people.

  27. I haven’t ever seen “American Idol” and it may well exploit the mentally ill to an unusually high degree. I would say, however, that the Entertainment Industry in generally feeds on mentally unstable persons. Marilyn Monroe. John Bulushi. River Pheonix. Some manage their illness (diagnosed or undiagnosed) better than others. I have a cousin with Bipolar currently in Hollywood working as a comedian. He just signed a 1.5 million dollar contract. His personal life stinks, but his professional life is booming.

  28. I haven’t ever seen “American Idol” and it may well exploit the mentally ill to an unusually high degree. I would say, however, that the Entertainment Industry in generally feeds on mentally unstable persons. Marilyn Monroe. John Bulushi. River Pheonix. Some manage their illness (diagnosed or undiagnosed) better than others. I have a cousin with Bipolar currently in Hollywood working as a comedian. He just signed a 1.5 million dollar contract. His personal life stinks, but his professional life is booming.

  29. I did not think Tracy Moore was a good singer at all.

    She has gotten way too much press. Her father was on a crappy radio show — Exploitation? Hmm, her father would say no. He spoke on an amateur, gawdy, corny and ridiculously pointless am radio show about mental illness- the judy fast show, all the while discussing intimate details about tracy moore and her shameful and embarassing moments with schizophrenia.

    Shame on the show, and on this girls father. THAT is exploitation imo.

  30. I did not think Tracy Moore was a good singer at all.

    She has gotten way too much press. Her father was on a crappy radio show — Exploitation? Hmm, her father would say no. He spoke on an amateur, gawdy, corny and ridiculously pointless am radio show about mental illness- the judy fast show, all the while discussing intimate details about tracy moore and her shameful and embarassing moments with schizophrenia.

    Shame on the show, and on this girls father. THAT is exploitation imo.

  31. I don’t watch American Idol. I caught a little bit last night and saw the clip of James Lewis. My first impression was that he has some type of speech impediment. I was a little upset that they put him on TV as one of the worst. If he does have a handicap, I thought he did did a damn fine job, and give him a lot of respect for trying out. When Randy and Paula started laughing, I got a little pissed off. When they showed the shot of his face afterward, with that confused, “Why are you laughing at me?” look, I wanted to thow up. I honestly believe that image will be burned in my mind forever. I will never watch American Idol again because of that. Someone from FOX or American Idol needs to apologize to James and his family. I have seen a whole bunch of blog sites laughing at his audition, but nothing explaining it. Does he have a speech impediment? It looked like he was missing his front teeth. Why? Developmental disability? I hope I can find a MySpace page, or email address for James. Someone needs to tell the guy he did a good job working with the tools God gave him. Someone needs to give the guy a hug and a pat on the back. And it looks like the only person in America decent enough to do that may be me.

  32. I don’t watch American Idol. I caught a little bit last night and saw the clip of James Lewis. My first impression was that he has some type of speech impediment. I was a little upset that they put him on TV as one of the worst. If he does have a handicap, I thought he did did a damn fine job, and give him a lot of respect for trying out. When Randy and Paula started laughing, I got a little pissed off. When they showed the shot of his face afterward, with that confused, “Why are you laughing at me?” look, I wanted to thow up. I honestly believe that image will be burned in my mind forever. I will never watch American Idol again because of that. Someone from FOX or American Idol needs to apologize to James and his family. I have seen a whole bunch of blog sites laughing at his audition, but nothing explaining it. Does he have a speech impediment? It looked like he was missing his front teeth. Why? Developmental disability? I hope I can find a MySpace page, or email address for James. Someone needs to tell the guy he did a good job working with the tools God gave him. Someone needs to give the guy a hug and a pat on the back. And it looks like the only person in America decent enough to do that may be me.

  33. Last night’s audition show (1/28/09) featured a young man that I felt was exploited. American Idol showed clips of him in high spirits: dancing, laughing, entertaining the crowd- working the AI holding room. He looked extremely happy. Then AI showed clips of him weeping and not being able to control his emotions over the disappointment of his best friend’s audition. His best friend auditioned before him and did not get sent to Hollywood. That was enough to seemingly destroy him and ruin his own audition. It was a shame because he seemed to actually be a decent singer himself, but he was too shaken over his friend to do a good audition. I understand how bipolar disorder can cause major mood swings and unreasonable, unwarranted sadness or joy. If that young man has bipolar, I feel bad for him that his “episode” was broadcast on American Idol.

  34. Last night’s audition show (1/28/09) featured a young man that I felt was exploited. American Idol showed clips of him in high spirits: dancing, laughing, entertaining the crowd- working the AI holding room. He looked extremely happy. Then AI showed clips of him weeping and not being able to control his emotions over the disappointment of his best friend’s audition. His best friend auditioned before him and did not get sent to Hollywood. That was enough to seemingly destroy him and ruin his own audition. It was a shame because he seemed to actually be a decent singer himself, but he was too shaken over his friend to do a good audition. I understand how bipolar disorder can cause major mood swings and unreasonable, unwarranted sadness or joy. If that young man has bipolar, I feel bad for him that his “episode” was broadcast on American Idol.

  35. Correction: I think it was Tuesdays AI… (1/28/09) It was on my DVR, so I’m not sure of the actual airdate!!! I think it was in Jacksonville.

  36. Correction: I think it was Tuesdays AI… (1/28/09) It was on my DVR, so I’m not sure of the actual airdate!!! I think it was in Jacksonville.

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