American Idol judges made fun of a Special Olympian

Criticism that the American Idol 6 auditions have been crueler than usual has continued, and seems to be increasingly focused on two people who auditioned in Seattle on Wednesday, Kenneth Briggs and Jonathan Jayne. Briggs was the person who Simon told, “Your dancing is terrible, the singing was horrendous, and you look like one of those creatures that live in the jungle with those massive eyes.”

On The View, which is quickly becoming the place we go for commentary about entertainment news, Rosie O’Donnell asked, “Isn’t that what America thinks is entertainment? To make fun of someone’s physical appearance and then when they leave the room laugh hysterically at them — three millionaires, one probably intoxicated. The whole thing, it’s terribly sad to me,” she said, according to People.

Briggs’ friend Jonathan Jayne also auditioned in front of the judges in Seattle, and The New York Times reports that “[a]n online biography from a private school in Seattle where Mr. Jayne graduated in 2004 notes that his hobbies include participating in the Special Olympics in several sports.”

Before Jonathan auditioned, Simon made fun of his weight, saying, “Have you borrowed Randy’s trousers?” After he sang, however, Simon was uncharacteristically kind. “Jonathan, you’re a nice guy. I like you, but this is not the career path for you,” he said.

While the judges have been mean about things other than their singing ability–and surprisingly so, in the case of Paula and Randy–criticism should also be directed toward the producers, who’ve seen these people through multiple rounds, and are moving them forward–and giving them false hope–because the producers know they’re going to be funny and help bring the show huge ratings. Thus, viewers who do laugh at them, or continue to watch the show after watching such cruelty, are also to blame.

Rosie O’Donnell Slams American Idol Judges [People]
The Good, the Bad and the Bush Baby: New Low on ‘Idol’? [New York Times]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.