Ten former American Idol contestants have filed a lawsuit alleging the show applied racist policies in disqualifying contestants and claiming that their contracts were “mindbending labyrinth[s] of non-sensical provisions” on par with the loopy language in the Willy Wonka movie. The suit argues that Idol purposely exploited black contestants with criminal records, making their disqualifications into a grand gesture “to scandal-monger Nielsen ratings while reinforcing the age-old stereotype of the ‘black criminal.’”
The 429-page brief (which, ironically, is surely a labyrinth of Willy Wonka-like legalese) names Fox, Fremantle, Nigel Lythgoe, Coca-Cola, Ford and others, demanding $250 million in damages on behalf of the plaintiffs. Somewhere in the giant case file is this jaw-dropper: “A staggering thirty-one percent (31%) of every American Idol Semi-Finalist contestant [Top 24, Top 36-40] who happened to be a young Black male was disqualified from the singing competition for reasons wholly unrelated to their singing talent. Even though there were three (3) times as many White (or non-black) contestants featured on American Idol over the course of ten years, there has never been a single White (or non-black) contestant disqualified from American Idol – not ever.”
Read the whole complaint (or just the highlights if you’re a sane person) over at Billboard.