Making Simon Cowell Human(e)

I admit it. I’m not a follower of any of the reality talent shows that are everywhere on TV these days, and although I knew Simon Cowell’s name, what I knew about him was hearsay–and it was all negative. Even President Obama had read the memo on Simon Cowell when he reported on The Tonight Show that Washington DC is a lot like American Idol–and everyone is a Simon Cowell. Simon would never be in the running for any congeniality award from what I’ve heard and from what glimpses I’ve seen.

Some people seem to get off on being negative and nasty. Simon has seemed to be one of those people. Sometimes I think his apparent type likes playing the bad guys, and really gets into perfecting and promoting the image of Very Unlikable Jerk, while making a career out of Noxious. I choose to not pay any attention to this sort–who wants to be witness to unending nastiness with an attitude?

I was amazed to find out that he’d actually had a girlfriend for six years, who’d chosen to put up with the nastiness and attitude for all that time–and yes, she said, he was the same at home as he was on Idol–read, “obnoxious,” although she chose to call it “honest.” And she said this while she was still with him, so it was not sour grapes, just realistic. I’ll take honesty without insults, please.

So, suffice it to say that the little I knew of Simon, I didn’t like…and where in the world had he come from anyway? (Not that I really cared.) Lately he’s come to my attention–and likely everyone else’s–through the phenomenon of Susan Boyle, the unassuming Scottish woman with the bombshell voice, and ultmately the second place finisher on TV’s Britain’s Got Talent. The American counterpart to Britain’s Got Talent is American Idol, or at least that’s where Simon shows up in this country. And other than that, I have no idea of any claims to fame he might have, or what gives him the credentials to judge anyone on anything. Nothing gives him the right to arrogance.

I checked for Simon on Wikipedia to see if they had the scoop, and they did. My observations were confirmed by a quote from Minette Marrin, a journalist from The Times, who described Simon as representing the “heartless, thoughtless and superficial–the flotsam and jetsam of the polluted seas of celebrity that is likely to sink without trace into toxic foam.” Right on Minette…at least from what I’d seen of Simon.

As unprepared as the world was for Susan Boyle and what she had essentially been somewhat secretly harboring until just two months ago, the world was equally, or even more, unprepared to see a refreshingly human side of Simon Cowell appear. Who would ever have thought he even had one of those? And as this human side appeared, he even became good looking (did you see that smile?), whereas before his looks had just been boring–with an attitude.

And yet, there he was–Simon Cowell, awestruck by Susan Boyle and her voice, and showing it. I wonder if he would have been as awestruck had Susan’s voice emerged from a super model’s body. We’ll never know.

Susan Boyle has accomplished the impossible, all right. Not only has she catapulted herself from utter obscurity to rock star status in a (seeming) nanosecond, but she has transformed Simon Cowell from an insufferable ogre to a caring, kind—even humble–human being. Again, who would ever have thought?

In each of Susan’s two subsequent appearances on Britain’s Got Talent, Simon again showed his obvious admiration and respect for this woman whom we would have expected him to blast off the stage in some ill-tempered barrage of put-downs and insults. In fact, after Susan’s second appearance in the semi-finals, Simon actually admitted and apologized for the way he–and his colleagues–had treated Susan prior to her first performance…meaning, his/their dismissive attitude in the assumption that she was a nobody with no talent and no right to be on that stage.

Simon apologized. That should have been the day’s headline in all of the British tabloids, at the very least.

In Susan’s third appearance, for the finals, it was almost as if Simon knew she wasn’t going to win, even though he really wanted her to, and that no matter what, he wanted her to know she had won in all the ways that really matter. He said he adored her. And I believe that he does. He should. She did the impossible and turned Simon into a humane human being. She even made him lovable.

Simon owes Susan big time, and I think he knows it.

Internet Explorer 6 or older browser detected. This website is functional only in Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer 7+ and other internet standards compliant browsers. Please visit this site using a current browser.