There is a lot of debate over whether the cruel comments and juvenile, bullying laughter of Idol judges constitutes victimization of contestants. While pretty much NO ONE disputes that this format is cruel and hurtful, the general argument in favor of the program is that it can’t be victimization if the participants willingly agree to appear
on the show. The fact that they are talent-less and unaware of it makes them fair game for the judges. However, in many cases it is this very lack of self-awareness that should raise a red flag among civilized people that these folks might not be operating on a equal standing with the rest of us and may not have the ability to make informed decisions about participation.
We have already seen the shoddy treatment of a young man with autism. Like many with his disorder and other pervasive developmental delays, this young man had a tenuous grasp of normal social interaction. He would probably not be allowed to sign legally binding contracts because of his disorder, but for Idol producers he is fair game for exploitation to entertain the masses. This is just ugly–there is no legitimate justification for making fun of people with impairments whether they be physical or mental–and the excuse of “they knew what they were getting into” just doesn’t hold water.