Here are some of your responses to Mike's last column.
Sean W. writes: I totally agree with you about the whole Simon Cowell/coddling parents thing. I mean have these people even recorded and listened to themselves? They should require all participants to listen to a recording of themselves so they can hear exactly what they sound like. But then of course if they are tone deaf like I suspect, they probably have and think they sound like all the other "American Idol" winners.
I don't know if it is just because the production company is just portraying it this way or if it is really so, but it seems like they have already gone through all the good talent in America. It seems like there are a lot fewer people making it to the Hollywood round this year than last. It is painful listening to some of the singers.
Bart H. writes: Mike, thanks again for being the voice of reason. My wife and I were discussing the same thing while watching "American Idol." How can the families/friends of these people not step up and say, "Don't do this. You suck and Simon will eat your soul"?
Perhaps I am fortunate to have supportive family/friends who are also willing to tell me that I shouldn't do something. I feel sorry for some of them. My wife feels uncomfortable when they are ranting/complaining/crying or cursing Simon. I, on the other hand, am thoroughly amused by these Obliviots. Thanks for your awesome column I look forward to reading the updates.
Dana B. writes: Mike, my wife auditioned for "American Idol" two years ago, and I accompanied her. I assure you that the "rejects" we all see on TV are chosen just as deliberately as the contest winners, and that this selection happens long before everyone's favorite triumvirate is involved.
R. Brooks writes: Yeah, but "Idol" is now letting these bad selections through the lower screenings just to belittle them because it makes good TV and makes for good [money]. Springer-type junk that brings viewers but is not fair to the bad contestants.
If they wanted to teach these people the hard truth, they would send them home, not send them to the lions for slaughter on national TV. And it now is others too, not just Simon.
If it were a talent show, they would narrow it down to talented singers for display. If they have an occasional bad, overly stupid one to show the contrast that would be fine, but eight out of 10? Come on now.
Anonymous writes: You go, Mike. Thank you for your brutal honesty, and reminding us of the "old school." Old school meaning honesty, integrity, tough love, genuine compassion, humility, consideration of others, work ethic: all of the things our grandparents and parents lived.
Stephanie K. writes: True, Simon tells it like it is, but there's absolutely no reason to mock the way someone looks. To tell the kid from Seattle he looks like a "bushbaby" has absolutely nothing to do with his singing and was just plain cruel. If the judges want to be mean about the way someone's voice sounds, fine. But leave the looks out of it. All three judges should be ashamed at how two-faced they are. Randy and Paula got all sympathetic when Simon lashed out and then as soon as he left the room busted out laughing. Idiots. Did they forget the cameras were in the room? Did they think that their true reactions would never be seen. Or maybe they just don't care. They should. This made them look really bad.
Mike writes: Mike, agree with you -- almost. Those trying out have seen the show and know what can happen. If talentless, they deserve the truth, but to attack one's physical attributes as Simon did is wrong. Last year he apologized for the "we need a bigger stage" comment stating he didn't know it would be on the air. Blah blah blah. I know, you work for FOX and your just doing your job, but I believe these personal attacks fall in line with what is normally GRRRed on this article.
Michele writes: Hey Mike, usually I totally agree with your GRRRs, but this time you just plainly missed the point. I think the general public agrees with the "American Idol" judges when they ridicule/take down a terrible singer -- we get that. What has changed this season are the judges' comments about the performers' looks. One boy had very large eyes, and Simon very cruelly called him a "bush baby." After the boy left, the other judges and Simon all laughed. That is what is cruel and unusual punishment. It's OK to criticize their singing. But it's not OK to criticize their looks/deformities. That is where the outcry comes in.
Doug writes: You make a good point. If only your assessment were based on reality. Simon is not a "talent-producing" genius. Nor is he even partly responsible for the phenomenal careers of the likes of Carrie Underwood. He is simply a loud-mouthed jerk who has created a forum to spew his "train wreck" comments. He is the Jerry Springer of "reality" talent competitions, and he draws in viewers hoping to catch a glimpse of it as if they were going to see a real train wreck. If you replaced him and his posse with a panel of judges who can evaluate talent, but were as dull as a 2x4, no one would watch -- but Carrie Underwood would still be a mega-star? Let me ask you this: Do you honestly believe that a majority of the people that line up for his "tryouts" really don't know that they can't carry a tune in a bucket? Puhleez! Most of these people are simply after their 15 minutes of fame and put on a good show for it. They want to head back to Bodunk, Ark., a hometown hero because they were brave enough to get thrashed by Simon on national television. I am sure there are a few totally clueless people out there that tryout, but if neither Simon nor any of his cohorts bothered to thrash them, would the viewers even get to see that audition? I doubt it.
His kind of nonsense bores me. I like country music, and I like Carrie Underwood because she has a phenomenal voice. I heard that she was on "American Idol" -- I think she may have placed somewhere near the top. That is about the extent of my support for Simon's trash.
You will probably take this as a compliment, but you remind me a lot of Simon. I saw on FOX that you got tasered. I bet it hurt like hell ... well, duh!
Keith writes: Mike, I think you missed the point on "American Idol." Sure, Simon should be lauded for his harsh commentary. He is 100 percent correct and these people need a dose of reality. However, I don't believe that Simon and his cohorts are free from blame.
I am not naive enough to believe that Simon, Paula and Randy actually see the performances of every contestant. In fact, I would venture to say that the vast majority of contestants (if not all) must first go through at least one screening process with judges/producers before they step in front of our three esteemed judges. I'm certain that these initial judges, when they pass on a "moron" that would make for good television, don't let the "moron" know of the reason they are being passed on. I'd be willing to bet these judges perpetuate the coddling that the contestant has received from their family and friends. That being said, I truly believe that much of the consternation on the part of the contestants is that they truly believe that they just received a vote of confidence from somebody with the show prior to stepping in front of Simon.
With this in mind, the comments from Simon could have and should have been avoided if these contestants had been weeded out during initial screening. Unfortunately, this is about what makes good television, and hearing quality singers for two hours doesn't get the ratings of a dreadful singer arguing with Simon and crying with Seacrest (who just happens to be there every time) ... or I'm just a huge cynic.
Marsha writes: My hope for you is that you hit a pole with your car, and hurt only yourself. I hope you lose 25 percent capacity to think, 25 percent loss of fine motor skills and 50 percent of your capacity to speak. Then you will feel as these disabled kids feel. You will have enough limited capacity to not be able to function normally, but you will have the mental capacity to feel hurt, humiliated and shamed by your incapacity to function normally. Good luck and may the laws of karma be with you.
Marybeth S. writes: Your comments on "American Idol" are so stupid. My daughter was in the top 32 of AI3. When she tried out in San Francisco, they chose 90 out of 3,500 at Pac Bell Park to go to the next audition round. At a hotel in San Fran the next day, they weeded out from 90 to about 22. Those 22 got to perform in front of Paula, Randy and Simon. They purposely let some pathetic singers get through to that round for the sole purpose of making fun of them. Remember William Hung? It's a TV show, not a talent show, and the lower-level producers put these poor, delusional hopefuls through to provide Christians for us TV gladiators. Up until that point, these folks are led to believe they have a shot. There are always weak for the strong to take advantage of. Isn't it a shame the American public considers it entertainment? Oh yes, and my daughter? They never said an unkind word to her -- US mag calls her "Simon's teacher's pet." But just because they were nice to my daughter does not excuse when they are jerks to other families' sons, daughters, etc. You are wrong on this one, Mike.
Mike and Shannon M. write: Regarding Simon Cowell you wrote "He's the last guy standing in the Culture War that has been festering and bringing this country down." Mike, that seems a little over the top. GRRR! to your hyperbole...
Chris writes: You've missed the point of people's upset altogether (not surprising for anyone working at FOX): These untalented people should not have gotten to the point in the competition where they are on TV. They are being exploited by the producers of the show for ratings because some segment of the viewing public enjoys this sick kind of aspect to the show -- kind of like a bloodsport they haven't banned. I give a lot of credit to these people who endure this kind of public mocking in search of their dreams. Moreover, some extraordinarily talented people simply do "choke" when under that kind of pressure and yet may well have very sustainable careers if approached in another way. Obviously you enjoy this unfortunate aspect of the show, which is too bad.
Charles writes: Mike, how did you get through the first round?