Saturday saw the beginning of the ‘Judges Houses’ on The X Factor which showcased talent, entertainment and anxious hopefuls singing for their chance to get one step closer to stardom. If you’re unfamiliar with how the ‘Judges Houses’ round of the show works, it’s pretty simple – the final seven in each category will perform at their judge mentor’s lavish house along with their guest mentor who is usually a famous singer or known in the music industry before the judges pick three to go through to the live shows. Or, at least that’s what I thought happened.
Music mogul and head judge, Simon Cowell, caused controversy on Saturday when 17-year-old Samantha Lavery stood in front of him ready to give her fighting performance to win a place at the live shows next week. Samantha, chosen as the wildcard for Simon’s category of ‘the girls’ by another judge, stood before Mr Cowell and his guest mentors, Emma Bunton and Mel B from the ‘Spice Girls’, before Simon decided to comment on her appearance. He described the contestant from North East of England as ‘distant’ before adding:
“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 make-up. All I’m saying is I want to peel away the mask. Does that sound bad?”
Pop icons Mel B and Emma Bunton didn’t seem impressed with Cowell’s comments and shot back with comments such as ‘allowed to experiment’ and it’s ‘what kids do’. Despite having the girls on her side, Lavery left the judges and took on board Simon’s advice. Though she seemed to take his comments as a positive, it still caused a total uproar with the viewers with a variety of comments being posted via Twitter.
— Zarah Sultana (@zarahsultana) October 1, 2016
— Tori-Leighh© (@ToriLeighDack) October 1, 2016
@SimonCowell I felt sorry for Samantha Lavery having to take your insults on TV from a talentless self-obsessed asshole like you Simon.
— Bagger Vance (@BaggaVance) October 3, 2016
I, along with thousands of others in the nation, was furious at Cowell’s remark. To begin with, it was completely out of order. Millions of people audition year in, year out for the UK’s biggest talent show and there has never been such controversy over a contestant’s appearance with makeup. To begin with, this is a singing contest and not a modelling show. At what point did a contestant’s choice of makeup – or lack thereof – become part of the judging process? This is a prime example of Simon’s superficial misogyny when it comes to coaching his young female acts.
It’s 2016 – at what point will it be clear to other people that women of any age are completely entitled to wear make up for nobody but themselves? Much like clothing, piercings and tattoos, it’s a form of art and expression and needs no judgement from anybody but the person applying the cosmetics to their face.
Could it also be considered as a strange form of controversy that Simon had failed to make any kind of similar remark to Lavery during both her initial and ‘six chair challenge’ auditions, where her look was no different from the one worn at judges houses?
Simon commented how Lavery’s overall look – outfit included – was too much of a ‘try hard’ factor as if she was trying to be a pop star. At 17, is it any wonder that Samantha tried her best not only with her vocals, but choosing an outfit and creating a ‘stage look’ for her last chance to get that one step closer to stardom? If the teen had walked out in jogging bottoms and a baggy shirt with her hair tied up, I’m sure that Cowell would have more than enough to say about her appearance again.
Instead of worrying so much about what she was wearing, wouldn’t it be more professional and correct for Simon to stick to his job of judging Samantha on her vocal talent? After all, is that not what the show is about? Creating an image comes in at a later stage where Lavery would have the chance to work with professional stylists and makeup artists to determine what she is most comfortable wearing as an artist with the input of those who are trained to help create the look which best suits and artist.
Though Samantha came back fresh-faced and seemed to be in agreement with what Simon said, we must bear in mind she was moments ago humiliated in front of two highly known artists, fellow contestants and an entire crew working on the show, without even going into the fact this would be broadcasted on Saturday night TV with a high rating of millions. Who wouldn’t at a young age feel pressured into agreeing with the famous and high profile music mogul who holds the future of her career in his hands?
Perhaps it was in Simon’s best interest to put Samantha through to the live shows regardless of the other talent within Lavery’s competitors as it’s the very least he can do before personally modifying her in front of the nation on television, or else the media along with viewers would have had a field day in roasting the music producer.
What do you think of Simon’s comments? Give us a tweet @UnitedByPop and let’s see if his remarks will impact the look of Samantha on this week’s live shows.
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