American Idol Contestant James Durbin Mocked on YouTube


An upsetting video has been discovered on YouTube, mocking James Durbin and his Tourette’s Syndrome. The video, which was uploaded on March 24, 2011 by an individual using the handle "jordans704," shows a 54-second clip from this past Thursday’s American Idol results show in which James Durbin can be seen making unusual facial expressions during an announcement by host Ryan Seacrest. In the video, a female and a male can both be heard laughing and chuckling in the background at Durbin’s expense. The clip shows close-ups of Durbin’s facial tics and is replayed several times, during which point he is repeatedly laughed at.

The video’s title is "AMERICAN IDOL JAMES DURBIN TURRETS FACES GOING NUTS!," with a description of: "hAD TO PUT THIS UP ON YOUTUBE IF ANYONE DIDNT ALREADY, KID CAN SING BUT MAN CAN HIS TURRETS MOVE!"

When I came across this video, I became extremely outraged as it is a perfect example of the cruelty and teasing that millions of people with special needs have to endure on a daily basis. 

Durbin, who has been diagnosed with both Tourette’s and Asperger’s Syndromes, has himself said in multiple interviews that he was severely teased and bullied while growing up and this video clip is just a small taste of what he had to deal with. We also wrote another story last month on Durbin and a visitor to our site posted the following comment:

I am from Santa Cruz, California. I know several people who know James, or who have kids who went to school with James. As the story goes, James was bullied horribly for his afflictions. I am not sure if he is on medication or what his deal is. But I know that the tourettes (sic) and Aspergers (sic) (which was not even named until 1994) were very visable (sic) in James while he was in school. I have heard stories from too many people.

James Durbin’s success on American Idol has created a tremendous amount of awareness for both Tourette’s and Asperger’s and he is an inspiring example of someone who has overcome severe challenges to accomplish great things. Unfortunately, as we can see below, he has also exposed the ugliness, cruelty and ignorance that still exist in our society when it comes to those with special needs.

UPDATE: 03/26/2011 @ 8:15 PM EDT — We are happy to report that the video in question has been removed by the YouTube user, presumably in response to the ovewhelming replies he/she received as a result of our article.

Thank you to all of you who posted their passionate feedback on “jordans704″ YouTube page to let him/her know that bullying, teasing and harrassment of those with special needs will not be tolerated, regardless of who that person may be.

UPDATE: 04/08/2011 — The following message was posted on the wall of the YouTube account responsible for uploading the video mentioned in this story:
“This is nicks mother, the video was taken down. My son did not post it. His Uncle posted it and I took it down immediately. My son who is 10 does not make fun of ANYONE. i AM SORRY FOR THE hurt this has caused.”

43 Responses to American Idol Contestant James Durbin Mocked on YouTube

  1. Jennifer Gutierrez says:

    Now that’s immature.Making fun of a guy with tourettes. That’s real pathetic and not funny.James is an amazing singer and has the unique pitch to be another Steven Tyler. Maybe not as good but just as unique. He can’t help the tourettes, and whoever is watching this and laughing in the video, you sound like grown ups but your acting like brain dead teens.I’m a teenager and I don’t think its funny. I think it doesn’t matter.He has a crazy voice and his tourettes is something that makes him stand out!SO LEAVE HIM ALONE.

  2. Tran says:

    There are only 141 views for this video. It’s likely that this article will create a lot more views than the video deserves. It may me better to ignore these things than to give it media attention, with the possibility of making it viral and thus rewarding the makers of the video.

  3. Gary G. Porter says:

    @Tran. Valid points. However, it’s also important to shed light on the mistreatment of those with special needs wherever and whenever it exists.

    Whether this video has 10 hits or 10,000,000, it doesn’t change the fact that the individuals in it are ugly and cruel and need to be called out for their behavior.

  4. marlon cryer says:

    I think these people need to grow up if this was your child you would feel the same.I’m glad we have had this chance to hear a gifted artists and I look forward to supporting james thru the rest of his career and life. thank you james for bringing more attention to this syndrome.you rock brother

  5. Kat Serene says:

    Why did no-one flag this video as inappropriate and abusive??? Why are you publicizing it even more by putting it up here??? You should be doing your part in helping to quash this garbage, not propagating it and giving it wider exposure by posting it here. SHAME ON YOU!!! I am not a youtube subscriber but i signed up just so I could report it. This is what I said:

    “WOW!!!! Just WOW!!!! How small minded, ignorant and vile can you be. It’s people like you that made his childhood a hell with bullying & teasing. He has not one, but 2 neurological disorders. He can no more stop the tics than you can stop breathing (unfortunately). Despite ignoramuses like you & the bullying he endures, he remains positive and is following his dream. He has much to be proud of and is an awesome role model to many. Can you say the same? I think not …” and then flagged it as inappropriate. It is also infringing copyright laws as I doubt the poster actually got permission to use this snippet.

    I think the readership here likely understands the bullying that goes on because of Tourettes and/or Aspergers. While no one in my family is afflicted, I have a close freind who is and he is one of the nicest people I know. He is sweet and genuine, kind and compassionate and loyal as the day is long. I suspect the same can be said of James.

  6. Gary G. Porter says:

    @Kat. See my response to Tran. IMO, we should be exposing these types of individuals, not sweeping their actions under the rug. Otherwise, they will continue to walk in ignorance and keep repeating their disgusting actions in the future.

  7. Kat Serene says:

    I’m not suggesting sweeping it under the rug … but let’s not propagate it either? How about actually reporting these morons as I did because s/he has violated both youtube’s user policy as well as infringed copyright laws. These things need to be shut down and shown zero tolerance and reporting as abusive will do that. And I have just found another with a similar clip which I have reported as well. I will not be posting a link or embedding it anywhere. The answer is to stop it, not to perpetuate it!!!! Sorry if our opinions differ.

  8. Jennifer says:

    As a mother of a child with Autism and mental retardation I am disgusted watching this. James is not only VERY talented but he is very brave as well. He endured a childhood full of jerks like the people who posted this and still chose to go for his dream which is to share his gift in front of people probably knowing that he would be mocked at times. Whoever posted this should be ashamed of themselves. You will be judged when it is your time and you better hope that you are shown more compassion than you have shown James.

  9. Nancy says:

    These people are the scum of the earth. Shame on YOU! When I here that woman laugh in the video, it is sickening. WHAT A HORRIBLE PERSON YOU ARE!!!!

    I agree with KAT………
    Why did no-one flag this video as inappropriate and abusive??? Why are you publicizing it even more by putting it up here??? You should be doing your part in helping to quash this garbage, not propagating it and giving it wider exposure by posting it here. SHAME ON YOU!!!

  10. Kat Serene says:

    They say the best revenge is living well … in this case I say the best revenge is having James win. I challenge the autism community to rally around James and vote for him every week, even if you aren’t generally an idol watcher/voter, which I am not. I generally only watch the auditions and then it gets boring. James has made this season worth watching. His talent is only surpassed by his courage. JAMES DURBIN FOR THE WIN!!

  11. Bryan says:

    I’m sorry to phrase it this way Gary, but this article is palm-to-forehead stupid. I found it top of the page on a google search for James Durban.

    Anyone with the slightest understanding of behavior modification can tell you that the most effective way to extinguish an undesired behavior is to ignore it, and instead you are giving this person all the attention they would ever want. Is your feeling of entitlement to your righteous anger more important than actually fostering a world where this sort of video is minimized? Or would a world without these types of expressed sentiments leave you without an outlet to write angry blog posts about? It’s up to you to look in the mirror and decide what is more important.

  12. momto2 says:

    As the mother of one, and grandmother to another, both of whom have a more severe form of Tourettes than James… I am disgusted by the snickering in the video, but not surprised by it. Our family members have had the same experiences as James (add cursing, echoalia, large uncontrollable motor movements and tons of medications too). However, this video needs to go “viral”, more people need to be called out, more people need to be shocked by it. Perhaps they will even see themselves a little clearer, and, perhaps, change their view of those who are different. Our whole family is pulling for James. What courage he has shown. Do any of you realize how hard it is to put yourself out there for others, like the YouTube video maker, to ridicule? This is everyday life. So, please pass it on (are you listening teachers?), spread the awareness. People with Tourettes are just that…PEOPLE… no more, no less.

  13. LT says:

    Just popping in here to let you know that you CAN get this video removed if you watch it on youtube and report it. Just click on the youtube logo on the bottom right corner, view in youtube and report.

  14. Gary G. Porter says:

    @Bryan. Ignoring undesired behavior equates to apathy and indifference and only emboldens the perpetrator. As the father of a special needs child, I refuse to look the other way when vulnerable individuals are ridiculed, teased or bullied, and that includes James. Contrary to your opinion, I believe that ignoring videos like these (and the individuals in them) only emboldens and fosters more abuse in the future. When these type of people are exposed, shamed and called out, they will think twice before doing the same in the future.

    As I previously stated, this video NEEDS to be shown and passed along so others, including yourself, are aware of what many special needs children are subjected to on a near-daily basis. If that makes my article “stupid,” than so be it.

  15. Asemp says:

    These typse of videos made by NT losers, who manage nothing other than belittling themselves, need to be highlighted.

  16. Diane Dennis says:

    Strike back… Everyone who sees those bullies for who they are, go here http://www.lightitupblue.org

    Let’s use bullies, and their YouTube space, as a way to spread awareness.

  17. Rebecca says:

    I imagine ignorant, small-minded people like this find other neurological conditions like Multiple Sclerosis and Huntington’s Chorea funny, too. As a mom of two kids with neurological differences, things like this fill me with despair. Sometimes it seems like no amount of “awareness” can combat the pettiness that fills some people’s hearts.

    James, if you read this, please know that you are doing such wonderful things for so many people. To see you succeed and hold your head high despite years of bullying and despite the ridicule I can only imagine you knew you’d face, is something to be very proud of. By your actions, you are showing other young people and kids that they don’t need to be victims to other people’s stupidity and cruelness.

    Here is what I tell my kids: Other people’s ignorance reflects poorly on them, not on you. As long as you act with integrity, you have nothing to be ashamed of, no matter what other people say.

  18. how can people be so cruel, making fun of a guy , whos so talented, I love his performances, I hope he wins the compitition. I have one son with ADHD and another one who is dyslexic, and they would be more intelligent and kind,than that retard,who took this video, not a nice person.

  19. Kathy Isonio says:

    I read a comment on-line from someone who said “James couldn’t possibly have Asperger’s Syndrome and be doing what he’s doing”. I felt compelled to reply that it ridiculous to think someone could diagnose him from watching him on television, and they are denigrating everything this young man has done and how hard he has worked to get where he is. Makes me furious! I will certainly NOT be looking at the you tube video mentioned above.

  20. Asemp says:

    @Kathy Isonio – have to agree wholeheartedly. I think the issue is those people saying he does not have Aspergers are people with Aspergers who haven’t gone out into the world, were bullied at school, and are sat at home on the internet not socialising feeling hard-done-by that this guy can go out there and make a go of it.

    I admit that I have Aspergers and would find doing what he does extremely difficult, but I would not try to claim he does not have Aspergers because he can do what he does. I applaud him for it, although worry if I tell people I have Aspergers they will think of James Durbin and think I am capable of similar things socially to him.

    It must be remembered that the condition is a spectrum one which affects people with it to varying degrees and in different ways.

  21. Kat Serene says:

    P.S. While I am not a special needs person, I was bullied relentlessly as a child for being shy, fat, wearing glasses and being an immigrant so I know all too well the agony of feeling unwanted, a misfit and undeserving. I would not have wanted videos like this proliferated “to raise awareness”. Those of you who are living it vicariously through your kids or loved ones may know it hurts, but will never truly understand the pain and humiliation if you haven’t lived it. I vehemently disagree that any of your own relatives would want videos mocking them distributed to “raise awareness”. They would want them shut down and viewed by as few people as possible. Just ask them. That moron has already got a message and being reported if s/he tries it again is far more effective and far less humiliating on the victim. Sorry if I offend anyone but I feel very strongly about this topic.

  22. Susan L. says:

    This made me actually sick to my stomach! What is wrong with you, whomever you are? Someone surely did NOT raise you right. It is horrible to make fun of someone that has a disease that he can’t help that he has and on top of that, they have to put up with the cruelity of people like you. James, you are a lovely young man and I am so sorry that you have had to put up with such horrible, ignorant people in your life. I am voting for you and you would be a GREAT American Idol!

  23. Diane Dennis says:

    Here’s another one to get shut down: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jD53_wvHBwE He has three videos posted all bullying James.

    Let’s shut him down.

  24. Janet Miller says:

    Please shutdown all these offensive videos posted by the ignorant. Face Book nor Utube should have a zero tollerance for people posting this trash.
    thank you.

  25. Ken Butland says:

    It has been removed ‘by the user’ apparently.

  26. Louise says:

    This is appalling. People today are truly insensitive, and we have their parents to blame for that — This starts as children, who need to be taught to be sensitive to others, and I’m teaching my kids that it’s what is on the inside that counts, and that our differences should be applauded, not criticized. I applaud James for all he has overcome in his life. It hasn’t been easy, but yet he picks himself up and stands proud in front of millions of people, and he has so much to be proud of — he is truly a rare and gifted individual, and when he sings, well, that’s a whole different story — his soul shines right through — :)

  27. Bev says:

    Who in the world ! would do something like this !!! I love James and have been voting for him since the begining. He is one of the best singers idols ever had ,I HOPE HE WINS THIS DARN SHOW, GETS A RECORDING CONTRACT, AND MAKES MILLIONS ! I want to say something really bad about the person who did this, but I’ll let GOD take care of him.

  28. nikole says:

    that is just horrible to make fun of someone like that. james is a nice looking guy and a wonderful singer! i hope he wins idol cause he deserves it! i applaude james for being able to get in front of millions of people and sing, that takes lots of courage. i hope whoever posted that video feels horrible for being so cruel.

  29. Jenny from the block says:

    My favorite contestant on American Idol is James Durbin. His voice is truly amazing, I think he is a good looking guy with loads of personality and stage presence.

    It is sad to think that someone would post something like that and it speaks to the maturity level of the person who posted the Youtube video. That is a true example of malicious behavior.

    I wish James the very best and hopes he will have his turn in laughing…all the way to the bank. He has endured enough.

  30. Sylvia Patterson says:

    I am glad to see the video has been taken down. what kind of cruel idiot would post such a thing. James is an amazing singer and he is truely gifted. It is time for all the bullies of the world to grow up. They make fun of other people because they are insecure about themselves.

  31. PAMELA says:

    I love James and think he shows remarkable courage to go in front of millions knowing he will be in the spotlight. He does a fantastic job and was made to be on stage. Thank you James for sharing your gift with us.

  32. Tiana Haley says:

    I just wonder why did God create people to make fun of other people with disabilities. That’s just down-right cruel. All I can say is their parents must not raised them right. I know people talked behind my back in high school about me having a weight problem. Most people don’t even have the sense or thing about what that person is going through or has gone through growing up. They may be abused at home or has to go through some terrible thing’s. The cruel one’s just take everything at face-value. I totally believe in Karma, and those that do wrong and bully have it coming to them some day.

    I really admire James Durbin for trying out for American Idol, and making it to the top spot. The bullying and stuff growing up must have made him strong to have the courage to even go on American Idol, and fulfilling his dream. I wish him the best of luck!!!!

  33. Sam Mirabile says:

    Dear James,
    I want to let you know that when you sing and your emotions come out on american idol I think you are the best,you put your heart and soul in the performance and I pray that you win I have a terminal disease and every week you make me feel great When you win and become a big star It would be a honor to meet you I am not a crazy person I just feel your talent is one of a kind and that is what makes a true person you shine If you have time after you win could you contact me
    Thank You James and when you are a big star I will be proud
    Sam

  34. zachary bevill says:

    hey James, my name is zack and my son and i are your biggest fan. my son is 15 and has a.d.d. and autism. being a single father it’s hard. watching you every wednesday and thursday keeps me going in life. we don’t have a lot but we get by and thank god american idol is on free t.v. you have alot on your shoulders for such a young man but you carry the load very gracefully. i know in my heart you will win this thing and go on to be an even bigger star than you ever dreamed possible. i love the fact that you show your emotions it proves your a real man. hopefully one day i can shake the hand of the man that let me know it’s okay to show my emotions to. stay true to yourself and your little family and never forget where you came from. i never thought a someone younger than me would be my hero… thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me hope and to keep pushing on. sincerly zack bevill

  35. jeannine says:

    My son has Tourette’s to the guy who made this video, it’s simple….anytime somebody bullies, it’s to cover an insecurity they have about themselves.

  36. pete says:

    Why anyone would make fun of a so obviously talented man for an affliction like this is beyond me. This young man is on ‘American Idol’! He made it to the last four, He will probably get a gazillion dollar record contract since, in my opinion he should have won. I would bet most of the fun makers could not carry a tune in a bucket! James will be rich with a wonderful wife and child and they will left with nothing but a snide comment… and known for that.. Who wins here ??

  37. Judy says:

    I am astounded at the cruelty that some people exhibit. I feel so sorry for them as they have no love or compassion in their cold bullying hearts.

  38. tneilson says:

    Anyone who could put this up is obviously jealous that he is in the limelight and admired by many in spite of any disability. Even w/out being diagnosed with any disabilities, those that did this are simply losers & lack morals as well. Now THAT is pathetic.

  39. Mine Seckler says:

    It’s truly amazing and sad that some adults just don’t understand what compassion is. Kids (young kids) don’t know better until they are old enough for their parents to teach them that people are just people in whatever state they might be in. Growing up with that knowledge should one help to make the right choices and show the right amount of respect as an adult.
    Our oldest son (who now is a married young man with great talents) grew up with Tourette’s, and I remember many sad moments in his life growing up caused by other peoples’ cruelty; but I also remember the fantastic insight of 2 teachers in his life (his drama teacher and the Vice Principal in middle school), who took it upon themselves to educate youngsters by example! Bravo – for every bad person out there, there is two good ones who will try to make up for it:)

  40. dawn says:

    I wouldn’t subject my child to bullying. Pull them out of that GD school and home school or online school or something, anything else. Or just keep them in that school and hope that magically the other kids will just stop bullying them.

  41. crazylady says:

    this is the first i have heard of this. james durbin is an amazing singer and hasn’t let anything stop him or get in his way of making all his dreams come true! i am so very thankful that the horrible comment was removed! whom ever posted it was truely a sad case of unfulfilled dreams:( james you are amazing! i’m waiting for your album to come out! you couldn’t have given it a better name! love ya<3 <3

  42. kirstie says:

    Wow i didnt know about till i came across this among old articles, that is so awful that someone would be heartless enough to post such a derogatory video, this is just as bad as all those hateful articles ive found about james, i really hate when people treat poor james like a dog, in the future if my children ever do something like im gonna spank em and teach them that when you mess with the hive you get the bees

  43. kirstie says:

    By the way speaking of humiliating james on youtube how about these nasty videos i found one where he is getting booed at the falcons game, yeah someone was actually sad enough to film and post such a thing and another of some mean horrible young woman talking trash about james where she calls him an unoriginal piece of ****, threatens him, and makes fun of his tourettes, lets shut down those evildoers if anyone is listening

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