It was only a matter of time before someone sued that cuddly, teddy bear of a man, Mr. Simon Cowell. It may come as some surprise, however, that the suit is not taking place in what many (at least outside our borders) call the most litigious country in the world, the good ol' U.S. of A. No, this suit for exploitation and degradation, otherwise known as reality TV, comes to us courtesy of our cousins across the pond, England. A booted contestant, Emma Czikai, says she was humiliated and degraded on the show Britain's Got Talent. She is seeking £300,000 ($458,000) for injured feelings, compensation of £1 million ($1.5 million) and loss of earnings of £1.25 million ($1.9 million).
ABC News reports Ms. Czikai says not only did she suffer the slings and arrows of the judge's harsh words during her spot on the show in March of 2009, but she was also the victim of disability discrimination because the show did not make the necessary adjustments for her, such as lowering the level of backing music and microphone levels. Czikai suffers from cervical spine neuritis, which can cause head and shoulder pain, which in turn caused her singing to suffer.
Ms. Czikai did not mince words when describing her experience before Judge Dredd-ful. "This program makes a select number of rich people very, very rich on the backs of the ordinary man and woman in the street through exploitation, humiliation, degradation and a re-emergence of modern-day barbarism with all its inherent cruelty."
The New York Daily News offered a taste of Cowell's alleged barbarism. After the performance, Cowell quipped, "Emma, this is a beautiful song when you're not singing it," adding, "You have a horrible singing voice." Vintage Simon.
Czikai's original complaint with the British media regulator Ofcom, stating that she was unfairly treated on the show, didn't fare much better than her singing, according to ABC. The complaint was rejected.
Czikai says she is bringing suit only to retain her "self-respect and dignity" and any monies awarded will go to charity. Now that would be an idol worth emulating.
- Legal Dictionary: Discrimination (FindLaw)
- Susan Boyle Breakdown Casts Long Shadow Over Reality TV (FindLaw's The Solicitor)
- Lawyers and Reality TV Were Made For Each Other (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- Judge Dredd (IMDb.com)