From http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,...4a1860,00.html

Seasoned New Zealand entertainer Gary McCormick has launched a stinging attack on the "ritual humiliation, cruelty and bullying" taking place on New Zealand television screens on Sunday nights.
I've given the Idol franchise a hard time for this before and I'm going to do it again. This show gets more nasty and more contrived each season. All the versions I've seen from around the world are the same - they get huge mileage from publicly humiliating poor contestants who didn't realise they couldn't sing.

The judges obviously sit at home dreaming up new lines with more sting in a bid to outdo their fellow judges in the cruelty stakes. The story above quotes judge Paul Ellis:
Ellis denied judges manufactured nasty comments in a bid to boost the show's popularity. "I verbalise what comes into my head. I was chosen for the show for my experience and because I do call a spade a spade, I don't mince words," he said.
What a crock. The judge's comments are often out of proportion to the offending performance and only barely relevant. Last season I noticed that as the batch of poor performers was running out, this situation got worse - the judges were getting in their rehearsed put-downs while they still had a chance. Never mind if the contestant didn't really deserve it.

Anyway, I have two concerns about this trend on television:

(1) I do feel for the contestants. In many cases they are innocents who are obviously surprised and very upset. I know that they should know what they are getting into but the reality is more complex.

(2) There is a bigger picture with serious consequences for our society. This program is encouraging our children to get enjoyment from humiliating other people. This is not a good thing at all.