Many viewers of American Idol are going after Katy Perry on social media for what they say is blatant flirting with male contestants.
One 18-year-old performer, Jonny Brenns, blushed Sunday as the pop star swooned over him.
“Eighteen-year-old girls would eat this up if a 32-year-old cougar would eat it up,” she said.
That prompted fellow Idol judge Lionel Richie to ask her to stop flirting.
“‘American Idol’ Treats Katy Perry’s Flirting As A Joke. Some Viewers Aren’t Amused,” reads a Washington Post headline.
Newsweek has posed the question of whether Perry’s boy-crazy antics are “Killing ‘American Idol’ Ratings.”
In the age of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, some viewers are expressing concern.
“If the genders were reversed, and a famous guy was hitting on a girl, people would be outraged,” read one tweet.
“So Katy Perry basically sexually assaulted someone on American Idol. If the genders were reversed, not only would there have been a firing, but perhaps an arrest as well,” another viewer tweeted. “Just think of a female contestant saying this about a celebrity judge kissing her.”
Others have told Perry’s critics to lighten up.
With many of the male contestants, the “I Kissed a Girl” singer has complimented their looks more than their talents.
Perry’s biggest flirt came when she sneaked a kiss with Benjamin Glaze during Idol‘s premiere episode. It was his first kiss, but he later told Inside Edition he didn’t mind it.
During a recent appearance on an Australian morning talk show, Bryan defended her.
“I gotta back Katy on that,” he said. “She’s in there working hard and making fun TV.”