Two judges have been fired from New Zealand's The X Factor after tearing into contestant Joe Irvine on this week's episode. Though harsh criticism is standard fare on these televised singing contests, the network's chief executive Mark Weldon said that judges Natalia Kills and Willy Moon (a married couple), "made comments that were completely unacceptable...we will not tolerate such destructive tirades."
"Destructive" is the kindest way to put it. After Irvine finished his performance, Kills began the take-down, saying nothing about his musical ability or performance, but remarking only on his appearance. According to her, Irvine had blatantly copied her husband's signature look — a suit and slicked-back hair.
"You're a laughing stock. It's cheesy. It's disgusting...I am embarrassed to be sitting here in your presence having to even dignify you with an answer." At this, the audience erupts in boo's and Moon comes in to back her up, calling the contestant "cheap and absurd."
"It's like Norman Bates dressing up in his mother's clothing," says Moon. "I feel like you're going to stitch someone's skin to your face and kill everybody in the audience."
Again — the guy is wearing a suit.
"It's disgusting. You make me sick," concludes Kills. "You have no identity. I'm ashamed to be here."
Watching the video, two things are clear: Natalia Kills and Willy Moon are a couple of jerks. But, more to the point, this mean-judge trope is getting old. Simon Cowell may have been a breath of fresh (if nasty) air, cutting through the earnest treacle of American Idol back in the early aughts. But, even he knew when it was time to quit.
By now, the cutting criticism has devolved to childish name-calling, and the idiotic tantrum Kills and Moon threw this week is just further evidence that it's time for something new. Bullying is not revolutionary or righteous. To quote Willy Moon, it's "cheap and absurd."
If you don't have anything nice to say, at least don't say something stupid.