Phillip Phillips Beats Jessica Sanchez: Does American Idol Have a Diversity Problem?


Phillip Phillips has been chosen as the American Idol by a total of 132 million votes. 

In American Idol land, long gone are the days of Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia Barrino, and Ruben Studdard. 

For four years in a row, fans of the popular reality television show have chosen the WGWG (White Guy With Guitar) contestant as the winner, meaning that the audience tends to go with the cute and nice white boy over other female and minority contestants with equal vocal capabilities and a potentially larger pop culture appeal.

And tonight, producers, judges and fans of the popular TV show had the chance to, as MTV puts it, "save the show from itself" and pick 17-year-old San Diego, Calif., native Jessica Sanchez ... or continue the WGWG dynasty and crown 22-year old Phillip Phillips from Leesburg, Ga.

Well Phillips eventually won, which begs the question: does American Idol have a diversity problem?

For Richard Rushfield, author of the book American Idol: The Untold Story, the problem is that the audience is mainly composed of female teenagers (and their mothers and grandmothers) who don’t necessarily see Idol as a contest to produce a long-lasting recording artist but as a chance to decide who’s the cutest, nicest guy.

And, according to last night's final performance, the trend is likely to continue this year as voters and critics seem to agree that Phillips is the big favorite to win season 11, with reviewers saying on Wednesday that Sanchez “stumbled” and that “she can’t win” while praising Phillips who supposedly “sew it in.”

Judge for yourself:

Contestant: Jessica Sanchez

Background: A mix between Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Celine Dion who grew up performing for his dad (a Navy veteran who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan) and competed at the first season of America’s Got Talent at age 11.

Contestant: Phillip Phillips

Background: Left his family pawnshop business to pursue his musical dream. Described by Idol judges as “a true artist.”