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Viewers accuse ‘American Idol’ of exploiting Claudia Conway for scores: ‘Disgusting’

Claudia Conway tries out for ‘American Idol.’ (Photograph: Christopher Willard through Getty Photographs)

The massive hype main into Sunday’s American Idol Season 19 premiere centered on the audition by Claudia Conway, the 16-year-old daughter of former Donald Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway. Claudia insisted, each on her not too long ago revived Twitter account and onscreen within the audition room, that occurring Idol was an “amazing opportunity” for her to determine her personal identification and pursue her long-held dream of evolving from TikTok star to pop star; Claudia’s legal professional father George, who accompanied her to the Idol set, even stated Sunday by means of tears that he “couldn’t imagine anything that would make her happier than to do this.”

However the backlash to Claudia’s TV look nonetheless has been quick, intense… and never unjustified. After a nonstop torrent of Sunday-evening Twitter protests, this outrage was distilled in a broadly tweeted Selection op-ed titled “How ‘American Idol’ Used Claudia Conway.”

Many viewers and pundits accused American Idol of exploiting a susceptible younger woman for scores, or just puzzled if Claudia, regardless of showcasing some uncooked expertise, would have gotten a lot screentime (or any screentime in any respect), not to mention a Golden Ticket to Hollywood, if her dad and mom weren’t “high-profile political figures.” (After Claudia’s first tune try didn’t go over so properly, the judges, notably Katy Perry, appeared so desperate to say sure that they really requested her to sing a second tune, with Perry’s relatively hands-on teaching yielding barely higher outcomes.)

Different critics understandably blasted American Idol for humanizing and normalizing the habits of Kellyanne, who has made headlines not only for her complicit position within the Trump administration however for allegedly bodily and emotionally abusing Claudia. On Sunday’s Idol episode, Claudia stated, “When your mom is working for the president of the United States, who you very much disagree with, it’s hard,” however she and Kellyanne principally downplayed their “family drama” — insisting that they love one another similar to every other feuding put-upon mom and incorrigible teenage daughter, and that they “agree to disagree,” even when their relationship is presently “iffy.” Claudia’s audition was even preceded by a cheerful video pep-talk from her supportive mother — though that supposed feel-good second truly got here throughout as positively dystopian, as tiny Claudia stood within the shadow of a Huge Brother-esque, billboard-sized digital wall of Kellyanne’s grinning, pixelated face.

The Conway “family drama” has performed out in actual time on Claudia’s social media over the previous couple years (a mixed 2.5 million followers on TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram observe her posts protesting her dad and mom’ political views) — a lot in order that when Claudia appeared on Idol Sunday, a involved Perry requested her, “Are you OK?” and “Does your mom still hug you?” Again in August, Claudia had posted that she was looking for a professional bono household lawyer so she may develop into emancipated “because of years of childhood trauma and abuse”; shortly thereafter, she introduced that she was taking a “mental health break” from social media. The same day of Claudia’s hiatus announcement, both Kellyanne and George Conway issued statements announcing their resignations from their respective positions, so that they could “devote more time to family matters.” Claudia then responded during a TikTok live-stream, claiming that her parents’ gesture was “not genuine” and confessing that her mental health was at an “all-time low.”

Claudia’s American Idol audition was filmed back in November 2020, and judging by the flattering edit she and her parents received this week, all was calm, or relatively calm, in the Conway camp at that time. But the family dynamic has seemingly become even more toxic in recent months, which has prompted Idol critics to question whether it was appropriate to air Claudia’s audition at all in February 2021. Last month, Claudia posted TikTok videos, which racked up millions of views before being deleted, that appeared to show Kellyanne screaming and getting physically violent with her. In one video, Claudia claimed that Child Protective Services “interviewed my whole family and they didn’t do s***. Pierre from Child Protective Services, if you’re watching this, you failed me.”

A week later (and less than three weeks before the American Idol premiere date), Kellyanne seemed to vengefully tweet a topless picture of Claudia; Claudia later confirmed that the photograph was authentic, but said Kellyanne’s Twitter post had been accidental, saying, “I’m assuming my mom took a picture of it to use against me one day and then somebody hacked her or something” and “I know that my mom would never, ever post anything to hurt me like that intentionally, and I do believe she was hacked.” Claudia said she and her mother would handle the situation privately, and she would “by no means ever” speak about it to the press.

Claudia Conway gets a message from her mother Kellyanne Conway on 'American Idol.' (Photo: ABC)Claudia Conway gets a message from her mother Kellyanne Conway on 'American Idol.' (Photo: ABC)
Claudia Conway gets a message from her mother Kellyanne Conway on ‘American Idol.’ (Photo: ABC)

On Sunday, Claudia insisted to the American Idol judges (including Luke Bryan, the one judge who voted not to send her through): “Now I want to get out of the controversy, get out of the drama, get out of the political whatever, and let people know that I am a singer and this is what I want to do.” But her Idol appearance seems to have done little to quell the controversy that constantly surrounds her. Controversy certainly makes for buzzy television, so expect Claudia, who’s already being aggressively promoted in Season 19 teaser videos, to receive plenty more screentime during Hollywood Week. (In a recent interview with TV Insider, mentor Bobby Bones was asked how much interaction he’d had with Claudia in Hollywood, to which he tersely answered, “A lot, actually. I’m just going to say it was interesting.”)

As for whether Claudia’s Idol participation is a genuine attempt for her to seize control of her narrative and her destiny and launch an exciting “new chapter” in her life, or a troubling case of gross child exploitation for ratings and publicity, remains to be seen. But apparently this… is American Idol in 2021.

Representatives for ABC and Fremantle did not respond to Yahoo Entertainment’s request for comment.

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