American Idol Judges Not to Blame for Harsh Comments

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Are American Idol auditions judged too meanly this season? It's been a common source of contention.

TV critic, Dalton Ross, of Entertainment Weekly, however, doesn't blame Simon, Randy or Paula. He actually says they've been nicer than ever on some occasions. Check out what else he recently wrote:

Another season of American Idol auditions means another season filled with incompetent singers cluelessly showcasing their wares for an entire country.

But this year, something seems different. According to everything I've read and everyone I talk to, the judges of American Idol have suddenly gotten a lot meaner, lighting into contestants like never before. Frankly, this is hogwash.

The Idol Four
Go back and watch season one - Simon was just as rude and crude as he is now. I don't see any difference there at all. That's not to imply that this season of Idol has not been meaner than past ones; it's just that the judges are not the ones to blame. The producers are.

Remember, it's not Simon, Randy, and Paula weeding out who makes it onto TV from the tens of thousands of applicants. The producers take care of that. They are the ones that pick out the people who make it before the holy trinity. Their job basically seems to consist of sorting stadiums full of auditioners into three groups, which are:

Group 1: The Really, Really Good
These people have genuine talent and are sent in to Simon, Randy, and Paula to see if they are worthy of being addressed as ''dawg'' and sent to Hollywood. We'd count Sundance Head, Sarah Krueger and Kia Thorton in this group.

Group 2: The Really, Really Bad
These people have no talent whatsoever, yet are also sent in to Simon, Randy, and Paula as a form of comic relief. Their badness dominates the first few weeks of the show and enables us, the viewers, to feel better about ourselves through the mocking of others.

Group 3: Everyone else
Most people fall into this category — the mild, the mediocre, the middle-of-the-road. These people are dismissed on the spot since they are neither good enough to stand a chance at winning, nor bad enough to provide any good laughs.

Where this season's Idol differs from previous ones is that the people in Group 2 have gone from ''really, really bad'' to really, really sad. Some of the contestants being brought in front of the judges (and, in turn, a national audience) are clearly in need of help — and I'm not talking about vocal training.

Nicholas Zitzman went beyond merely socially awkward, and there was something vaguely non-human about Darwin ''Mischa'' Reedy and her practically identical mother. But the show sunk to a new low with another debatably dynamic duo: Jonathan Jayne and Kenneth Briggs.

Kenneth was the guy Simon compared to a monkey, calling the bug-eyed contestant a ''bush baby.'' Some saw that as unnecessarily harsh, but Simon has never pulled any punches in his commentary on contestants' looks. This is nothing new, and he has actually uttered comments much worse than that.

What made this situation different was the fact that Kenneth was even in the room to begin with, seeing as how he didn't — and I'm trying to be gentle here — appear to possess the highest IQ.

Which brings us to Jonathan Jayne. Jayne is a perfect example as to exactly why the judges are not to blame. For those who don't remember, Jonathan was the large guy who crooned ''God Bless America.'' Turns out he is a former Special Olympics participant.

Paula was typically kind after his somewhat excruciating performance, but it should be noted that Simon was as well, even saying ''You're a nice guy. I like you, but this is not the career path for you.'' Randy then thanked him for showing up. So why again are the judges under fire? Heck, even Special Olympics International praised them for being ''gracious and very encouraging.''

Yet the judges are still catching the heat, when it was the field producers who put Jayne in the room to begin with. If it was to see him mocked, then they are evil. If it was to chalk up an easy and compassionate story line, then they are merely shamelessly exploitative. Either way, it's pretty classless.

Now, let's move on before I emotionally shut down over the realization that I just wasted almost 700 words defending Paula freakin' Abdul.

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