Tuesday March 31, 2009 1:48 pm
Simon Cowell: American Idol’s Disrespectful Judge?
There are very few American Idol viewers who feel ambivalent on the subject of Simon Cowell. The fans either absolutely love him and accept his word as gospel, or they utterly despise him and everything he says. It’s a love/hate thing, and some days Cowell makes us loathe him…other days, we just have to adore him. But there are some who think the famously plainspoken judge takes his penchant for criticism a bit too far, and in fact the acid-tongued critic has come under the gun with the press more than once.
Now, MSNBC is calling Simon Cowell out for his “disrespectful” behavior, saying the judge is “utterly indifferent and bored.” His behavior? It’s “increasingly appalling.”
Or, if you’re on the opposite side of the issue, one of the rare bright spots during performance and elimination nights.
Last week, as has happened on many such weeks, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell dissolved into a fit of squabbling at the judges’ table. Cowell has always delighted in discomfiting Ms. Abdul, who is obviously easily driven off-course. But after Scott MacIntyre’s performance, Paula was wide awake and for once quite ready for Cowell’s criticism. She whipped out props and delivered a funny line that even broke Simon up in hysterics.
Read More | MSNBC
The whole thing, part Vaudeville and part Cheers-like situation comedy (in reverse), was just the usual Idol back-and-forth viewers expect from this reality duo. But it all takes on something of a sinister hue when they act out their performance before a contestant who’s blind. As MacIntyre waited in the dark, quite literally, host Ryan Seacrest casually explained what was happening as uncomfortable moments of waiting stretched before them.
In such a situation, the whole thing does seem a little cruel and more than unnecessary. When four judges barely find the time to get a word in edge-wise, it seems more than ridiculous these two should dominate so much critiquing time.
No matter what else he might be, Simon Cowell is often the judge with the opinion contestants pay attention to the most. In follow up interviews and “where are they now?” clips, former Idols resoundingly repeat the same name when they recall their judging sessions: Simon Cowell. When he’s spending time harassing Ms. Abdul rather than critiquing, sure, it could be plenty frustrating to a young singer who’s standing in front of 30-something million home viewers, a live studio audience and a host who rarely does more than sit back and wait for the panel to run out of steam.
All the playing around early on often leaves the last two or three performers of the night rushed and harried, as Idol invariably runs low on time in the home stretch. This creates one- and two-word critiques that do the audience and the performer little justice.
And every year, American Idol seems to devote less and less time to singing. This year, the time devoted to judging seems to often outweigh actual performance minutes, making the music something that’s squeezed in between banter, commercials, video clips, sponsor plugs and Seacrest’s smile. While comedy erupts on the Paula/Simon side of the table, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi struggle mightily to make their voices and their critiques heard. DioGuardi’s addition to the panel makes Jackson seem a little less like an outsider, but strengthens a divide that might otherwise have retained small proportions. Now, the gulf between the two pairs is growing ever wider, and often it’s Jackson whose words are cut short and cut off. The whole cast plays straight man to the team of Abdul/Cowell, and it’s all really unnecessary.
Want to fix the show? Cut out Jackson and DioGuardi. Much more time for useless but oh-so-entertaining banter at the panel, much more of a “mediator” role for Seacrest (who loves to get right in the middle of the fray, anyway) and perhaps this will even leave a little time for the contestants, after all. It’s a cruel reality world out there, but why fight what works? Paula Abdul’s rambling, cheery critiques often make for great quotes, Simon Cowell is the mean boy of the bunch and Seacrest is just there to break them up when the bit runs a little too long. How extraneous is everyone else?
Well, I suppose we do still need the singers…sometimes.
(You can find all the American Idol 8 posts here.)
- Related Tags:
- american idol, american idol 8, contestants, fox, judges, judging, kara dioguardi, music, paula abdul, performance, randy jackson, reality, ryan seacrest, scott macintyre, simon cowell, singing
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