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Twitter accuses 'American Idol' of being racist during Disney night

Sunday was Disney Night on American Idol, but the Idol soundstage wasn’t exactly the Happiest Place on Earth. Why? Because after the top 10 performed and the real-live live votes were tallied, the season’s only two black contestants, Uché and Dimitrius Graham, went home. #IdolSoSnowWhite, anyone? OK, so that hashtag wasn’t really a thing. But Twitter was definitely on fire Sunday, with some angry fans crying racism, while other, equally angry fans argued that it was unfair to play the “race card” in this case. It’s hard to guess just how much race played into the fates of Uché and Dimitrius. This was, undeniably, a déjà vu situation. American Idol has historically been a conservative program, with 12 of the past 16 winners being white and nine of those winners being white men. (The term “WGWG,” or “White Guy With Guitar,” beven ecame an Idol trope after David Cook, Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze, Scotty McCreery, and Phillip Phillips all won in Seasons 7 through 11.) We all remember how viewers never accepted Season 12 judge Nicki Minaj, or how just last season most of the contestants of color (Michelle Sussett, Dennis Lorenzo, Ada Vox, and Jurnee) went home in quick succession. But there could have been other reasons why Uché and Dimitrius never seemed to connect with the Idol audience. (They only even made it into the top 10 first as the judges’ wild card picks last week, after they failed to get the public vote on top 14 night.) Uché, akak “Mr. Entertianment,” was undeniably the season’s most dynamite performer, but his confidence and swagger could easily be mistaken for arrogance (the ultimately kiss of death on Idol, a show who audience historically preferred Kris Allen to Adam Lambert), and his huge personality was, as judge Katy Perry once said, “a lot.” The operatically trained Dimitrius was one of the season’s finest technical vocalists, but his lack of screentime (he was the only top 10 whose audition never aired) hurt him, and the quiet, solemn singer had the opposite personality problem as Uché. It’s too bad that neither man continued, whatever the reason, because they were spectacular this Sunday. While Uché got some flak from the judges for going with a supposedly obscure song, Tevin Campbell’s “Eye to Eye” from 1995’s A Goofy Movie, and that was a risk that maybe hindered him even more, he sang that song that made me feel like I was watching a Disney version of Graffiti Bridge were a Disney movie. And he certainly went out in style, with a final performance that featured hairography, a dramatic knee drop, and a leatherman outfit with cutouts. The show seemed to be trying to be set up Dimitrius for success this week. Guest adviser and self-declared “Disney fangirl” Rebel Wilson gave him pointers on how to loosen up and be more playful, and then Dimitrius’s mother, who recently had heart surgery, surprised him at Disneyland for a feelgood TV moment. Then he did Phil Collins’s sentimental Tarzan ballad “You’ll Be in My Heart” flaunted his crazy operatic range at the end, and broke down in tears, he was doubled over on the stage floor for so long that Katy, dressed up as Ursula the sea witch from The Little Mermaid for Disney Night, ran up and wrap all four of her tentacles around him. But it still was not enough. I am sad to see Uché and Dimitrius go, especially since I would have loved to see what Uché would have done on next week’s Queen Night. Both singers will definitely still be in my heart after this.