January 25, 2006

Always in search of "insensitivity"

Oh no! Simon Cowell of "American Idol" and even his cohort Randy Jackson said something not-so-nice to ... a non-specific gendered individual!!

The Fox talent show elicited a response from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) after judges Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson made what the gay rights group deemed questionable comments on last week’s premiere episode.

On Tuesday’s show, seen by a Nielsen-chart topping 35.5 million viewers, Cowell told one male contestant to “wear a dress” and Jackson asked another, “are you a girl?”

Since my daughter loves the show, I watched this very episode with her that night. The person in question was not only clueless about his/her gender, apparently, but also his/her degree of talent. And when Jackson asked the person (who was actually a teenaged boy, by the way) "are you a girl?", it was quite a reasonable question. After all, it was indeed incredibly difficult to tell! The boy answered back, "Of course!" like it was supposed to be obvious -- despite the fact that the boy's hair was styled like a girl's, he sounded like a girl, and he dressed like a girl!! He even chided Jackson and Cowell (to his grandmother), in a post-audition camera moment (paraphrase), "Am I a girl .... what kind of question is that?? I mean, come on!"

It was a damn good question, pal. And all GLADD wants is publicity, which obviously it has gotten from the popular show.

Posted by Hube at January 25, 2006 04:15 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

While I agree with them that these statements were horrible, dehumanizing, and inappropriate, when it boils down to it, they say that kind of thing to all sorts of people. They insult all people who aren't skinny and look like plastic pop stars as well. You could argue that by doing so, they promote eating disorders too. In the end, people watch this portion of the show BECAUSE of the things Simon says, and those who go to the auditions should be aware that such a possibility exists, particularly if they are lacking in the talent department.

Posted by: Mike McKain at January 25, 2006 05:52 PM

I saw that episode, too. Honestly, the "wear a dress" comment was completely out of line. However, when there is an androgynous person wearing high heels, feminine accessories, a woman's low-cut shirt and tight hipster jeans, who happens to have a high voice and plucked eyebrows, who thinks it's amazing that he gets mistaken for a girl, the question isn't demeaning or dehumanizing. It's a wake-up call.

I had a situation in my classroom last year with a beautiful boy who was mistaken for a girl. He, however, wasn't wearing girls' clothing or high heels, and didn't pluck his brows and talk with an affected accent. He was just beautiful. In this case, I agree that the question "Are you a girl?" could be, and was, hurtful and/or embarrassing. I don't think it was inappropriate on Idol.

Posted by: Bronwen at January 25, 2006 06:37 PM

The guy you are referring to on Idol was an extreme case, and they may have even been legitimatly confused; however, Simon made a similar comment to another guy (who was dressed as such) who also spoke in an effeminant manner. That may be what the issue is, I'm not sure.

Posted by: Mike McKain at January 25, 2006 07:21 PM

I bet that the GLAAD folks will be up in arms a over this headline: Gay Leads No. 1 UConn Over St. John's What that player does on his own time is no one's business. Really!

Posted by: David Gerstman at January 25, 2006 10:50 PM

It is silliness to take this show with any gravity, it is commercialism best ignored.

Posted by: Nancy Willing at January 26, 2006 08:33 AM

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