Simon Cowell is a Jerk and a Great Career Counsellor

simon_cowell_in_december_2011You must know who Simon Cowell is – the producer and brainchild behind American Idol and X Factor among other “reality” shows. He’s not a nice guy. We know this. Funny, insulting, handsome and wildly successful, yes. Nice? No. But you can’t argue with his success. He’s worth about $600 million American. That’s flabbergasting. So I tend to think when Cowell advises people they are not recording artist material, he knows what he’s talking about.

Another thing that astounds me about Cowell’s productions are the contestants who audition to become the next American Idol. These utterly delusional (Cowell says deluded) people show up to audition. Most of them are god-awful looking (they really ought to read my blog about getting an image consultant), can’t carry a tune in a bucket and yet are somehow flummoxed when they are told they aren’t recording artist material. Some of them are furious when they walk out of the audition. Some threaten Cowell, flip off the cameraman and yell obscenities as they are escorted out of the building. What’s that all about? What’s wrong with there weirdos?

And that’s a great way to attend an audition. I’m sure the judging panel will regret rejecting freak-shows like that. Do these contestants expect Cowell to jump out of his seat and chase them down the hall yelling “wait! I’ve made a mistake!” So far I haven’t seen that happen but if it ever does I expect Simon to then turn to the camera and say “psych!”

Here are some of my favourite freak contestants in the series:

  1. Ariel Burdett – This freakshow donned craft wool braids and stormed into the audition room pulling off her contestant number whilst declaring “I’m not a number. I’m a human being!. then proceeded to roar an “academic construction” to demonstrate holistic talent for Cowell and his judging panel.
  2. The Narcissist – this woman stated she was “better than Madonna.” She wasn’t.
  3. Holly Jervis – Cowell’s feedback sums her up nicely, “[your mouth] is like a cave.
  4. 16-year-old Sofie Stoker – who is known on Youtube by the unfortunate distinction as the most embarrassing X Factor audition.  Her proud mother’s comment was “I can’t believe that’s coming out of my little girl. It can bring me to tears.” Her voice did the same to the audience.
  5. Mary Roach – even her name doesn’t sound promising.
  6. Andrew Fenlon – he informed the interviewer for American Idol that he’d be able to perform well if he “didn’t have to interview all the time…’s messing me up.” I have a great stage name for him: The Spawn of Ted Bundy. I hope he didn’t pick up any hitchhikers on his way home.
  7. Jules versus the Judges – Jules managed to isolate himself from all 3 judges in about 5 minutes telling Randy he needed to “go to the gym”, informing Paul Abdula she wouldn’t have made it in the industry “15 years ago” and Simon that he “stomped on souls”. I wouldn’t recommend this approach at a job interview.

Before I became a teacher I wanted to be a lawyer. I wrote a good LSAT. I had a decent profile. My GPA was good but not great. I was wait-listed at the University of Ottawa so when I visited a friend in that city, I attended a meeting with a nice lady on the admissions committee who informed me I was 75 on the waitlist (ouch) and that my GPA really wasn’t as high as it looked on the transcript (she did the math in front of me). Was I devastated? Yes. Did I feel like jumping off a building? Yes. Did I yell obscenities at the woman, flip her off and have to be removed by security? Uh, no. I realized law school wasn’t in my future and that sucked. I didn’t know at the time that teacher’s college was in my future and that it would prove to be a great career. There’s always a silver lining in rejection, no matter how much it sucks.

Yes it’s lousy when your dreams or goals turn out to be unrealistic especially for young people. They don’t have enough life experience yet to appreciate that when a professional with decades of experience informs them that they should re-consider their career choices, this is actually valuable and helpful advice. Okay so, no one wants to receive this feedback from Simon Cowell. His communication methods are somewhat … controversial. And I doubt that telling someone he looks like an African bush baby is necessary for career success, even if it’s true.  In that same video he told a young man named Jonathan “this is not the career path for you.” Now that sounds like reasonable feedback.

And when Simon Cowell tells a contestant that their performance is “about as bad as it can get”, the unhappy contestant might wish to retire from the room (and her dreams) with a little more dignity than responding with “f—k you.” I would suggest the same is true when you attend a job interview and aren’t offered the job.




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