Simon Cowell, be warned.
Dieter Bohlen, a German music producer and former pop star, took a page from Cowell’s book to become the harshest and most controversial judge on Germany’s “Deutschland sucht den Superstar.” And his barbs have boosted ratings.
Bohlen’s stinging criticisms, insults and wisecracks about contestants and their singing abilities, or lack thereof, have contributed to the popularity of RTL Television’s hit show, but for Germany’s media watchdogs, enough is enough.
But Germany’s media watchdogs have had enough: The Kommission fuer Jugendschutz (Commission for Juvenile Protection), which oversees and enforces protection of children, has slapped RTL with a $157,234 fine for repeated comments and behavior deemed “insulting” and “anti-social.”
Among Bohlen’s many colorful utterances was telling one talentless candidate, “That sounds as if they sewed your ass shut and the shit’s coming out from the top.”
Although the punitive fine is a drop in the bucket compared to the ad revenue RTL generates with “Superstar,” it’s nevertheless a pointed condemnation of the broadcaster.
RTL has long faced criticism for a show many detractors say indulges in the verbal abuse of contestants for the sake of ratings with little regard for the emotional trauma it may cause.
“Insulting comments and antisocial behavior are presented as normality on the TV format,” says Commission chairman Wolf-Dieter Ring, adding that such “behavioral models” contradict educational goals such as tolerance and respect and could have detrimental affects on children under 12.