American Idol Judges: Too Mean?

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As the new season of American Idol gears up again, critics of the popular TV show wonder whether the judges and the producers are being too mean to potential contestants.

They were certainly at again Wednesday night in Seattle.

"You look like one of those creatures that live in the woods with those massive eyes," Simon Cowell told one Idol hopeful.

More than 37 million people tuned into the season's premiere. While the episode was the most watched, many say it was also the meanest. One contestant modeled herself after the singer Jewel. When asked whether she had passed the bar set by the judges, Randy Jackson said: "No, no, no, no, no."
Idol Judges

Cowell was even more emphatic.

"It would take an hour. Are you kidding me? No, please," he said.

After that critique, the young woman began crying.

'Social Cruelty' or Constructive Criticism?

Rachel Simmons, author of "Odd Girl Out" and an expert on bullying, called the experience "social cruelty."

"What you're seeing here is social cruelty being woven into the fabric of the American Idol experience," Simmons said.

When a contestant juggled batons, the Idol judges didn't hold back.

"Useless at everything. Even the juggling was pathetic," Cowell said.

Even Jackson didn't hold back.

"Jason ended up on the wrong show. It's called 'America's Got Some Talent,'" he said.

Most people would say the contestants came willingly and should be prepared for the harsh criticism. Simmons said that reflected a societal problem.

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Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


I felt that they all were cruel in some way or another. People should be treated as what they are humans. They should be trying to lift one another up. Building Self-Esteem not tearing it down. I could not believe how mean they were. The lady that referred to her self as being the lion of the Wizard of Oz. Yes she was not talented enough to go to Hollywood but they could have at least accepted, her poster. Also, the guy Simon talked about his eyes being so huge and what he looked like that was uncalled for no one can help the way they look. Unless you have the money to have plastic surgery and sometimes that is not successful! I could go on and on but you get the picture put somebody they love up there and see how that makes them feel. What are they teaching our children to judge people about the way they look? I don't know any one that is perfect there is a flaw somewhere if it is not on the outside it is on the inside. The judges should put themselves in these people places. They have a dream and they turned their dreams into nightmares!!!


I think that the judges are being just a little to harsh to people this year. I know that the people auditioning are just wanting their fifteen minutes of fame, but you do not have to talk about someones physical appearance. First off Simon and Paula you have no room to be calling someone overweight because you no idea what it is like being over weight. You do not know why they are over weight. Second Randy you have no room either because I believe it was you who had to have Gastric bypass to lose weight. I think you are the pot calling the kettle black now aren't we??? Next time think before you speak!!!


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I think that the judges are over the top mean this year. It is a singing contest for crying out loud-not a beauty contest! Past contestants who were not the typical Hollywood ideal (think Ruben Studdard, Kim Locke and Clay Aiken) have proven that with a good stylist, they can achieve a more "Hollywood" look. However, they all possessed superior sets of pipes that overshadowed their "look." All 3 judges were really harsh on the contestants the past two nights, and I thought it was over the top mean-spirited. If you don't like somebody's talent, or lack thereof, just comment that they didn't quite reach the bar. But, there is no reason to rip them to shreds because they aren't super-model thin, Dolce and Gabanna chic, or a "10." They are still PEOPLE with feelings-regardless of whether or not they should have tried out.


I live in New Jersey and would like to confirm where and when the closest auditons would be. Please advise return Email. Also is there an an age limit on auditions? Thankyou for your assistance. Bette J. Buczynski