Celebrity guest blogger Michael Showalter: Those nasty British judges

Ms_l_2This is the second post of Michael Showalter’s stint today as PopWatch’s celebrity guest blogger. Keep checking back throughout the day for more from the funnyman.

Why can’t the "snarky/shoots-straight-from-the hip/insults people judge" on these reality shows ever be an American? Just because Simon is a Brit doesn’t mean they ALL need to be Brits. The snarky judge on Next Great American Band is, like, Tasmanian, or Welsh, or something. His name is "Stinko." I’m getting all my details wrong and it would take five seconds to Google the show and find out the truth but I prefer to think he’s Tasmanian and named Stinko. (For what it’s worth his name is "Dicko" and he’s Australian. I Googled it.) Still, as far as most Americans are concerned, Australian IS British. As long as they sound like they could be in a Merchant/Ivory movie we think they’re Brits.

There’s a snarky British judge on America’s Got Talent, too. He shoots from the hip. "Those Brits really shoot from the hip." I think that it’s been decided that Americans aren’t allowed to be honest with each other or we’ll get pissed at them.

The producers of these shows have figured out that non-Americans can be really mean to the contestants and no one will get upset. Like, Paula and Randy can’t say what they REALLY think or else they’re unpatriotic, but Simon can say whatever he wants. Same thing with Dicko. He tells it like he sees it. He called one of the singers on the show an "emo leprechaun." I thought that was brilliant but it saddened me that Sheila E. and the guy from the Goo Goo Dolls would have been booed lustily if they’d said it. In fact, the Goo Goo Dolls guy gets booed everytime he opens his mouth, but when it’s Dicko’s turn to speak you could hear a pin drop. We’ve been trained to get quiet when the Brit speaks on these shows as if his accent alone signifies something very important. "Ssh. The British judge is about to talk. I want to hear what he has to say. It’s going to be more important than what the other judges are saying."

But why? It’s got to have something to do with the American Revolution. It’s like, 300 years later, and we still feel kinda dumb around a British person. Yeah, we have more bombs than they do, and we’re better at sports but they sound much smarter when they talk. Who knows? Maybe it’s got nothing to do with the Brits at all. Maybe it’s because Americans are afraid of each other. Maybe it’s because we’re afraid of ever saying the wrong thing. Maybe it’s less about them and more about us.

addCredit(“Michael Showalter: Jim Spellman/WireImage.com”)

Comments (7 total) Add your comment
  • new yorker

    Look at it this way, in the case of Dicko, if he weren’t being mean and obnoxious, then he wouldn’t be living up to his name. And as for the other judges, insulting people while doing it with an accent like Nigel on ANTM and Simon on AI makes it sound more “refined.” It makes it all better. Yes, you’re insulting me, but your accent makes it sound more “pokished” and thought out. It’s like my friends who grew up in the south. Their grandmothers can say in the meanest way, ‘You’re such a disgrace Michael” but so long as she adds bless your heart at the end of that observation, it makes it all better.

  • Strepsi

    You are right and wrong. It’s not just the voice, it’s that the Brits (and other Commonwealth countries) DO shoot from the hip, and Americans don’t. The upside of the American Dream is “if you believe it, you can achieve it.” The downside that Americans deny, is, sometimes you CAN’T. I still remember how aghast Simon was in Season 1 at how Americans enable each other in their delusions. That’s why he and Nigel go after the mothers, who usually say “Little Ned believes he can sing and dance, and no one’s going to stop him!” No one except REALITY, ma! The Brits “take the p!ss” out of even their top celbrities, but Americans are soooo over-sensitive about “self esteem” y’all can’t HACK IT. Signed, a Canadian.

  • Anonymous

    That was a really pointless blog.

  • Andie

    I think it’s because American contestants and viewers don’t like to be criticized, so if they must be, having it come from someone with a British accent makes it seem a little more accurate. And fun.

  • Anonymous

    It’s totally the accent and diction thing. The British/Australian/Welsh/Scottish/Kiwi etc. accent sounds more refined to the American ear. It makes the negative comments more acceptable. Imagine if Randy said, “Yo dawg, you sucked.” He would just be perceived as incredibly rude. When Simon says, “That was absolutely atrocious!” He actually sounds polite while being rude. Yes! The oxymoron! We can’t deny the reality of this perception!
    Sad thing is, it doesn’t work the other way around. British people probably don’t think we have intelligent sounding accents.

  • Ep sato

    Clearly, Mr. Showalter doesn’t watch much reality tv. The meanest judge I’ve ever seen on reality tv is Tyra Banks. Simon’s got nothing on some of the mean things this woman’s said on “top model”.
    Anyone who believes snarky judges must be British (or perceived to be) has never watched “Top Chef” either. Did the judge who proclaimed that the broccolini looked “like something from Bob Marley’s house” have a British accent? I don’t think so.

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