Though the concept of a voting scandal is old hat to Americans these days, few things send the public into upheaval like a whisper of controversy regarding the votes on a favorite reality show. When viewers believe that a beloved contestant has been cheated, the outcry can be deafening. Here are ten of the voting scandals that rocked the reality television world.
Kim Kardashian’s Dancing With the Stars Twitter Campaign – When famous-for-being-famous, Kim Kardashian tweeted what she implied was a number to reach teen heartthrob pal Justin Bieber, the phone lines lit up with calls from a legion of crazed fans; turns out, the number dialed into Kardashian brother Rob’s voting line for Dancing With the Stars. When Rob was named runner-up in the season finale over fan favorites Ricki Lake and Derek Hough, viewers cried foul, citing Kim’s tweet.
American Idoland Homophobia – After a sexually ambiguous Adam Lambert was beaten by the non-threatening and arguably less-talented Kris Allen on American Idol, claims that the results were fixed as a result of homophobia on the part of producers and other execs hit the blogosphere and spread like wildfire.
X Factor UK – When competition-television mogul Simon Cowell’s show X Factor hit the British airwaves, allegations of fixed voting and rigged results were rampant after a technical snafu led to the publishing of results while a live telecast was still underway. Fans were outraged, taking to Twitter and other social networking sites to dub the show “Fixed Factor.”
Oprah’s “Your OWN Show” Scandal – When reality and talk television’s indisputable icon Oprah Winfrey launched a reality show designed to find the next star for her OWN network, scandal ensued, as fan favorite Zach Anner’s votes were eclipsed by tens of thousands of those for rival Phyllis “Dr. Phyllis” Tucker-Wicks. Claims that the show was rigged in order to prevent cerebral palsy-stricken contestant Anner’s success spread like wildfire until the contestant himself took a stand in defense of the legendary Oprah.
Bristol Palin and Dancing With the Stars – Claims that the far-right Tea Party members were taking to the phones in order to promote the daughter of ultra-conservative Sarah Palin during her stint on Dancing With the Stars after she survived several rounds of cuts, despite receiving the lowest scores from judges certainly deserves inclusion on this list.
American Idol and the “Vote for the Worst” Campaign – When the attractive but decidedly poor performer Sanjaya Malakar survived several rounds of tough cuts after turning in lackluster renditions of classic songs on American Idol, the news broke that an underground movement called “Vote for the Worst” might have been at work. The movement, seeking to subvert reality television by altering the voting patterns, was arguably responsible for Malakar’s longevity on the hit show.
Stacey Stillman Versus Survivor – The first season of reality-television juggernaut Survivor was an overnight success and quickly became an inextricable aspect of modern pop culture. However, a hefty lawsuit filed by attorney and former-contestant Stacey Stillman claimed that producers coerced other contestants into voting Stillman off in favor of the much older Rudy Boesch.
America’s Next Top Model and Janice Dickinson – Former panel judge and supermodel Janice Dickinson made reality television waves with her allegations that hit show America’s Next Top Model was fixed; the CW network responded with a statement claiming that “this is completely untrue,” but the damage was done in the eyes of many former fans.
American Idol Strikes Again – Generic greetings that did not state the name of the contestant, confusing voting line numbers and suspicious results, led to yet another American Idol voting scandal, as James Durbin fans claimed that their votes were wrongly counted in Lauren Alaina’s favor.
America’s Got Talent – Thirteen-year-old America’s Got Talent contestant Arcadian Broad made waves in the television community when he stated, quite frankly and on live television, that he “didn’t want to do High School Musical,” and that the producers “gave him this hand.” Judge Piers Morgan interrupted the youngster, and host Nick Cannon attempted to do damage control by stating that “the acts do have a final say on what they do when they perform.”