American Idol Judges: Too Mean?

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As the new season of American Idol gears up again, critics of the popular TV show wonder whether the judges and the producers are being too mean to potential contestants.

They were certainly at again Wednesday night in Seattle.

"You look like one of those creatures that live in the woods with those massive eyes," Simon Cowell told one Idol hopeful.

More than 37 million people tuned into the season's premiere. While the episode was the most watched, many say it was also the meanest. One contestant modeled herself after the singer Jewel. When asked whether she had passed the bar set by the judges, Randy Jackson said: "No, no, no, no, no."
Idol Judges

Cowell was even more emphatic.

"It would take an hour. Are you kidding me? No, please," he said.

After that critique, the young woman began crying.

'Social Cruelty' or Constructive Criticism?

Rachel Simmons, author of "Odd Girl Out" and an expert on bullying, called the experience "social cruelty."

"What you're seeing here is social cruelty being woven into the fabric of the American Idol experience," Simmons said.

When a contestant juggled batons, the Idol judges didn't hold back.

"Useless at everything. Even the juggling was pathetic," Cowell said.

Even Jackson didn't hold back.

"Jason ended up on the wrong show. It's called 'America's Got Some Talent,'" he said.

Most people would say the contestants came willingly and should be prepared for the harsh criticism. Simmons said that reflected a societal problem.

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Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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