Astro apologizes for his meltdown, which occurred on X Factor’s lowest-rated episode

The X Factor‘s elimination on Thursday marked the show’s first truly authentic, unexpected moment thanks to Astro, but his meltdown took place on an episode that was the show’s lowest-rated episode of the season.

The results show started like normal, with the group number’s lack of lip syncing being revealed by LeRoy Bell, whose missed cue last time forced the show to admit using pre-recorded tracks; they actually performed live last night, and he missed his cue again. After the requisite time-filling, the bottom two were revealed, but only after Rachel Crow, 13, was saved through tears.

At first, 15-year-old hip-hop artist Astro appeared to take his position well; Stacy Francis seemed much more surprised. But when he came out for his pre-judges’ vote performance, he threw a temper-tantrum, asking mentor L.A. Reid if he should bother singing. That seemed at first like shtick, but when Astro said, “I don’t want to perform for people who don’t want me here,” it was clear he wasn’t joking.

Let’s not be surprised that a 15-year-old had a meltdown on national TV: the demands of reality TV break down mature adults, and add the pressure of a live performance that determines your fate in a competition for $5 million, and it’d almost be surprising if he didn’t break down. Astro’s behavior earned him criticism from the judges, but three of them voted to save him anyway.

After the episode ended, Astro suggested on Twitter that there was more to the story: “Its funny how people are quick to judge not knowing whats going on behind the scenes. Maybe I should have given my Disney smile instead!”

Late Friday, new Twitter user Simon Cowell suggested that there was some possibility Astro would quit or otherwise not return to the competition, writing, “Met with Astro and his father today and @LA_Reid. Everything is much calmer now and the good news is he’s back on the show next week.”

On Saturday, Astro explained all, apologizing and posting this to Facebook:

“What I do, I do for the love of Hip-Hop and my fans, and I would never doing anything to hurt either. But please try to understand where my head was last night. Muhammed Ali was hated by America when he didn’t enter the draft. What people didn’t know was that he would have entered if the recruiter would have addressed him by his new name. I believed I was being mistreated, and in the moment I thought about Ali’s moment. I want to be the new ambassador for Hip-Hop and a leader of a new young movement of positive kids, but to be that I must have Integrity and Honor first! People are saying I’m ‘cocky’ and ‘arrogant’, well maybe I have watched too many Muhammed Ali films or maybe I grew up having to fight my way home everyday or battle on street corners of Brooklyn for respect. My guards are always up, and maybe I took the situation too heavy. I seriously apologize to my fans, what I said and my emotions weren’t directed toward you. I’m 15 and I think I know everything, but the truth is, I don’t, and I handled the situation wrong! Win or lose next week, I will make you all proud!”

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.