Monday, January 22, 2007

The Other Reality TV Story

Across the pond, the world's favourite sadist, Simon Cowell, has been in controversial form. Some commentators were up in arms last week at his description of one contestant as a "bush baby".

Here's the Seattle Times:

So maybe Seattle has zero singing talent, but was it necessary for "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell to compare one contestant to a bush baby?

America, is that what you want from your number-one show?


On Wednesday, two friends appeared on the Seattle episode. The first one drew the "bush baby" remark. The second, [Jonathan] Jayne, was asked by Cowell if he had stolen (fat) judge Randy Jackson's trousers. Jayne, who, yes, is very overweight, then proceeded to sing "God Bless America."

Seattle gave the world Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain, the famous dead guitarists, so it has a reasonable musical heritage to live up to. Obviously the current pool of talent is a shallow one.

The Cowell row deepened when it emerged that the Jonathan Jayne is autistic and represented the USA at the Special Olympics (motto: "Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.").

Entertainment Weekly said this:

...moments after watching 20-year-old Jonathan Jayne, with his soft features, high-waisted pants, and alarmingly orange Hawaiian shirt, wheeze his way through ''God Bless America,'' I got a call from my friend Rosie in Alabama. ''Did American Idol just stoop to making fun of a mentally challenged person for laughs?'' she asked. ''Y'know what,'' I replied, ''I was just thinking the same thing.''

Fortunately for music lovers, the Special Olympics movement defended the treatment of Jayne (which didn't seem that cruel to me anyway), saying:

"While polite isn't a word one would normally associate with Cowell and company, a viewing of the episode in question shows that the judges were in fact gracious and very encouraging to [Jonathan] Jayne during his rendition of 'God Bless America,' "
Now, Cowell has done several bad things in his time, presiding over the careers of Westlife and Robson & Jerome, but I don't think turning down Briggs and Jayne can really be included in that category.

Here's Briggs (I think he does look like a bush baby):

and here's Jayne (who tries hard, but is no idol):

p.s. Am I the only one who thinks Paula Abdul isn't drinking her Coke neat?

1 comment:

Anna said...

When I was in New York there was a huge controversy (based around a youTube video) of Paula Abdul slurring her way through an interview. Apparently it was exhaustion rather than drunkenness...