James Durbin was far from the only person that was taken off-guard by his elimination on "American Idol" Thursday night.
Shortly after Durbin's ouster — which clearly shocked the singer, judging from his teary reaction to the news on the episode — his legions of fans hit the internet, and particularly Twitter, to register their outrage.
"Little Miss Sunshine" actress Abigail Breslin might have summed up the sentiments of Durbin Nation when she tweeted, "American Idol broke my heart tonight! Love you James Durbin! You should have been in that finale."
Another grief-sticken Durbin fan wailed, "It made me physically sick watching James Durbin go home tonight. He is pure passion & so much heart!!! I just wanna cuss & kick stuff."
The journalistic community was similarly dismayed by Durbin's ouster. A Los Angeles Times blog lamented that Durbin's departure will leave a gravitas vacuum in the season: "[It] was James' very seriousness of purpose that made the voters' choice so sad. James seemed more focused –- and seemed to have staked more — than any of the other contestants on snagging the 'Idol' crown."
EW.com, in the meantime, fretted over Durbin's future like a concerned parent, referring to a previous "Idol" loser, "Will he indeed pull a Daughtry, releasing hit after hit on the radio? Or will he fumble the way some other 'Idol' rockers have?"
Over at MTV.com, readers flooded the comments section with their own expressions of dismay. One Durbin partisan going by the name Pamela fumed, "Done with 'American Idol'…now that James is gone no need to watch. Can't wait for his CD!!" (That's two exclamation points, people!!!)
Another member of Team Durbin concurred and called for reform within the "Idol" status quo, noting, "I am so done with 'Idol.' The voting system needs a major overhaul. It is too bad that 'Idol' has stooped so low as to support a girl with such a disrespectful attitude that should have been bounced instead of Pia. I will follow James and his great career and will now support Scotty, he will get my votes."
USA Today.com's comments section was similarly besieged in its "Idol Chatter" section. One user wailed, "It's a sad day for 'Idol.' I won't be watching anymore." Another: "Now I see how unjust a "popular" vote can be. James is the best. Hands down. This is just wrong!"
For her part, "Idol" judge Jennifer Lopez remained even-keeled about the controversy over Durbin's termination, matter-of-factly noting in a post-show interview, "I am happy with the Top 3; I believe we have some great voices and some great artists there."
Meanwhile, after his initial shock, Durbin himself has developed a philosophical attitude toward his ouster.
"It's OK," the would-be "Idol" tweeted. "To all my fans, I LOVE you ALL! I'm Optimistic Prime! Time to get to work! Thank you for EVERYTHING!"
Perhaps some of Durbin's over-emotional fans would do well to take their cues from his attitude.