Guy Adams: Cowell is an export who shames Britain

LA Notebook

Share
Related Topics

For Simon Cowell, it was just another day at work when he decided to humiliate Paula Goodspeed, a
American Idol hopeful who had just delivered a forgettable rendition of the Tina Turner classic "Proud Mary".

"I don't think any artist on earth could sing with that much metal in their mouth," he gleefully announced to 30 million-odd viewers. "You have so much metal in your mouth, it's like a bridge!"

Ms Goodspeed failed to see the joke, though. Last week, 18 months after the clip was screened, she took an overdose outside the home of American Idol judge Paula Abdul in Sherman Oaks, a short drive from the Hollywood studio where America's most popular TV show is filmed.

Suicide is, of course, a deeply personal act and it is impossible to know exactly what drove Ms Goodspeed, 28, to kill herself. But both Cowell, and the makers of the programme, must now consider if they have blood on their hands.

If reality talent shows revolve around the ritualised humiliation of the vulnerable and eccentric, then Cowell is their ringmaster-in-chief: a man who built fame and fortune on the ability to toss rotten tomatoes at people unable to throw them back.

As a Brit abroad, this gives me serious pause for thought. Not only is Cowell about the best-known Englishman in America, he also represents the fulcrum upon which our recent colonisation of the country's TV industry has been built.

Britain invented reality talent shows. Through the likes of Cowell, Nigel Lythgoe and Simon Fuller, we sold them to the world, and as a result, the cream of our television talent resides in Hollywood.

Now their status looks irreversibly tainted. And Cowell, who has yet to dignify Ms Goodspeed's death with condolences, seems like one cultural export my homeland could well do without.

San Francivilisation

In Britain, Paula Goodspeed's suicide would have prompted outrage on a par with the Russell Brand-Jonathan Ross saga, but here in California people are harder to rile. One reason might be their laidback lifestyles. The US Office of National Drug Policy just published a study which suggests that San Francisco has fewer Starbucks coffee houses than it does legalised marijuana dispensaries. This single fact must surely make LA's sister city the most civilised place in America.

Firebug's fruitless fine

Speaking of smoke, the weekend's apocalyptic wildfires coincided with the conviction of a 50-year-old man for an arson attack that sent 100,000 acres ablaze in 2006. Steven Butcher was fined $100m. It's one way of solving California's budget crisis, but I somehow doubt that Mr Butcher, who is homeless, will be able to pay.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: Cameron's unexpected tax pledges give the Tories home advantage

Andrew Grice
President Barack Obama walks with U.S. Secret Service agents to Air Force One at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, Calif., May 8, 2014.  

Obama's Secret Service has become sloppy with its delusions of Hollywood grandeur

David Usborne
Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence