Simon and Paula’s screwing around unfair to contestants, even if it’s entertaining

Last week’s performance episode of American Idol 8 was marked by more than just impressive and impressively mangled versions of Motown songs. While Allison was being judged by Kara, Simon Cowell drew on Paula Abdul’s face with a crayon, which he had because Paula gave him crayons–a Crayola 64 box–and two coloring books to illustrate the fact that he was acting like a baby for staring at her and repeating “Answer the question. Answer the question. Answer the question.”

But both of them have been increasingly acting like babies. Of course, their interaction and screwing around has long been a part of the series, and a rather entertaining one. It temporarily distracts me from the whole bad karaoke parts, and leads to water cooler moments, like the season when Paula slurred her way through many episodes.

But lately it seems like neither is paying much attention at all and are just being rude and obnoxious to the contestants on stage that really make the show possible. Simon makes $45 million a year from the show. Could he not pay attention? And wear something else besides that white V-neck shirt that may be designer but looks like crap?

That’s what I argue in this essay about how out-of-control Simon and Paula’s disrespect has become. Although I wrote, on some level, in defense of the kids who are standing on stage while Simon fondles Paula or whatever, at least one of them doesn’t mind.

Michael Sarver, who was not subjected to judge shenanigans during or after his judging, told reporters during a conference call last week that the screwing around doesn’t bother him, although he did admit it’s “complicated” when the judges ignore the contestants:

“You know personally, number one, I enjoy that because what people need to understand is this is supposed to be a fun thing. It’s supposed to be enjoyable. It’s supposed to be the time of our lives and they help make it that by goofing around, like Simon coloring on Paula’s face. That was just absolutely hilarious. It does, indeed, make it complicated sometimes if you may feel like they’re not really listening to you, but overall, the fun that they’re having on the show makes everybody smile and that’s what entertainment is all about, bringing a positive light to the TV world.”

‘Idol’ judges’ disrespect is out of control [MSNBC]

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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.