There's a line in Philip Roth's Great American Novel, an otherwise forgettable slog through a boringly imagined fictional baseball season, in which the barnstorming team plays against a prison squad. The game reaches its climax when the prison-team catcher calls for a pitch with a piece of the anatomy that's initially mistaken for a thumb. Simon Cowell reenacted that scene in reverse during an X-Factor episode when his big toe was mistaken for, how shall we say it, his junk. Roll tape.
It was his toe. Moving on, he then suggested that a woman take her makeup off so that we could see the real her. A ridiculous thing to say, since he's been made up every day of his professional life on television. But, you know, whatever. "Samantha I wish we had met without what you think is your pop star image. With you I think we’ve had a bit of a mask put up. I’d almost like to see you without so much makeup. All I’m saying is I want to peel away the mask. Does that sound bad?" Co-hosts Mel B and Emma Bunton quickly chastised Cowell. We know what he's trying to say, but his expression was inelegant to the point of blatant sexism. Again, we should point out that Cowell was wearing makeup at the time. One wonders what he'd look like on camera without any. We say go for it, Simon. We're sick of your TV host image. We'd almost like to see you without so much makeup. Twitter responded to his misstep.