Brutal Honesty, or Just Plain Brutal?
Having watched the Top 24 on AI Season 9 this week (and almost missed Mirai Nagasu skating in the short program as a result – thank God I’m not interested in tonight’s results show so I can focus on Women’s Figure Skating Finals competition), I must say: this is a fairly weak bunch of contestants. No one has shown their potential yet. But, since Top 20 week is when the frontrunners start peeking – think David’s “Imagine,” think Melinda Doolittle’s “My Funny Valentine” – I’m not yet ready to write anyone off.
But, dammit, Simon! DIAL IT DOWN!! Actually, if the show’s producer has not yet taken you aside, after this week’s judging, then I’ll do it for you: Unless you want one of these contestant’s family to sue your ass for causing their child’s nervous breakdown or attempted suicide, SHUT IT!
I’m telling you. If Simon Cowell really doesn’t want to be on the show anymore (could he look more bored?), then he should just leave now. Why drag it out for another season (and rip apart some young aspiring artist’s soul in the process)?
I know, I know. Some folks will say that 1) Simon is just being Simon and 2) after eight previous seasons, these new crop of contestants should know what they’re in for.
I don’t think so because here’s the thing. In the previous seasons, when Simon is “just being Simon,” he was PERFORMING meanness. It was expected of him to have a razor-sharp tongue, and when he opened up his mouth, his cruelty was always delivered in over-the-top sound bites, so you didn’t always take his meanness literally.
So, for instance, when Simon rips David up for singing Chris Brown’s “With You” by telling him that he “was a chihuahua trying to be a tiger” (something similar to what he told Carrie Underwood about being “a kitten trying to be a tiger”), it’s not the kind of insult that would crush your spirit because, quite frankly, the insult is neither here nor there and has absolutely nothing to do with whether you sang well or not.
But, when Simon tells someone (like poor Alex Lambert last night) that he just needs to get off the stage if he’s not ready to project stage presence or (as he told Todrick after rearranging Kelly Clarkson’s Since You Been Gone in an R&B style) that he’s just “stupid” for doing such a thing, I have to recoil and say: HOLD UP!
See, there’s a difference between performing meanness and being downright mean, and this week on this season, Simon is being down right mean. And, I want to know why he thinks he’s entitled to quash young people’s self esteem like that. You can be honest without being nasty. And the contestants he was being mean to were already nervous appearing on the AI stage before a live audience for the first time. Imagine how soul-crushing it is to then be told on national TV that you are stupid and don’t belong in the competition. Imagine, worse, if after such a tongue-lashing, that you then get voted off the following night by “America”!
I have a newfound respect for David for having gone through that fire and come out gold. But it also explains why he froze up and had PTSD when he returned to the AI stage last season (I do hope these Idol alumni have health coverage for therapy).
If I don’t embrace this new season of contestants, partly it will be the level of talent, but the other part would be Simon being “brutal” rather than “brutally honest.” And there is a difference.
Now I understand why Ellen is in the line-up: these contestants absolutely need a compassionate judge to soothe their souls. Boot Camp indeed!