The celebrity judges on American Idol are sharing their thoughts on contestant Caleb Kennedy’s shocking departure from the competition. After the resurfacing of an old Snapchat, which showed Caleb next to a friend who was sporting what looked like a Ku Klux Klan hood, the country singer-songwriter was cut from the top five. Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan are saddened over losing a favorite face in the “class of 2021,” and wished Caleb luck moving forward. Meanwhile, Katie Perry is remaining silent.
News of the 16-year-old’s exit from Idol came mere weeks before the grand finale. Though many of Caleb’s fans were angry that his Idol journey was abruptly stopped, other viewers were livid over the Snapchat. The clip, allegedly filmed when Caleb was 12, features his friend wearing a white hood. While Caleb’s mother claimed they were re-enacting The Strangers: Prey At Night, the hood in question looks very similar to that of the white supremacist group. Idol alum Clark Beckham said that, although there’s a chance Caleb’s mom could be telling the truth, producers couldn’t risk keeping him. Caleb issued an apology, stating his actions weren’t “meant to be taken in that way,” and has since been on an Instagram hiatus.
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As reported by ET, judges Lionel and Luke recently reacted to the Caleb controversy. “Well losing great talent is always [hard] … this is our class. This is the class of 2021. So, you know, it was an unfortunate situation,” said Lionel. “We had to ride with what’s happening with ABC, and you know that’s where we play … we wish him all the best, but that was just one of those unfortunate things that happens along the way.” Luke added, “You know, we love these kids, we love every aspect of their growth and all of this, but it’s certainly devastating news when we hear about this. But like we said, our thoughts will be with him as he grows as an artist.”
Katie Perry didn’t comment on Caleb. Instead, she praised contestant Casey Bishop, who was eliminated on Sunday’s episode. “I don’t think it’s the end of the road for her,” said Katie. “She’s not going to win ‘American Idol,’ but I think she’s going to win at life. Mark my words.” The fact that Katie didn’t echo her fellow judges’ sentiments on Caleb speaks volumes. Neither Lionel nor Luke denounced Caleb’s Snapchat, which means it’s possible they don’t think the hood was intended as a KKK reference. Katie’s silence, on the other hand, hints that she does.
Regardless of what’s actually the truth, Caleb built a solid following while on American Idol. Countless fans now refuse to watch the show without him on it and are flocking to Spotify to listen to his radio-worthy original songs. Still, half of the country remains convinced that Caleb is racist. Rebuilding his public image will surely take work, but it’s not impossible. When racially insensitive images surfaced of The Bachelor‘s Rachael Kirkconnell at an Old South Ball party, she was dragged on social media for months. However, she worked on educating herself and is now flooded with messages of love and support. Hopefully, Caleb puts in the work as well.
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