Steven Tyler Hitting On Teenage Idol Contestants: Revolting, Not Amusing

When a 62-year-old man openly hits on a 16-year-old girl — in any context — it’s disturbing. When he does it smack in the middle of one of the few family-friendly hits on primetime network TV, it’s downright disgraceful. And that’s precisely why I’m hoping that executives at Fox, 19, and Fremantle Entertainment will put the kibosh on new (and otherwise quite terrific) American Idol judge Steven Tyler’s tendency to make lascivious comments toward the show’s young female contestants. (Fox officials declined comment on this story.)

During Idol‘s three-hour, two-night season 10 premiere last week, Tyler stamped himself as the MVP of the judges table. He was pithy, he was funny, and he was genuinely interested in the young singers vying for Golden Tickets to the Hollywood Week portion of the competition. Only problem was, the Aerosmith frontman seemed a little too interested in ingenues like Victoria Huggins, a preternaturally perky 16-year-old whose pink cardigan and floral dress caught the eye of fellow judge Jennifer Lopez.  “I love the skirt!” said J.Lo, at which point Tyler snarled and added, “Oh yeah, just the right amount showing.” Um, gross. And it wasn’t the only instance where Tyler’s words and expressions went right up to — and occasionally over — the line.

Look, I know Tyler’s a bad-boy rock star, and I realize his come-on may have been offered at least partially in jest, but as anyone who watches 16 and Pregnant knows, kids in this country nowadays get sexualized altogether too early as it is. Do we really need to have December hitting on April on a show that’s otherwise appropriate for everyone from grannies down to adolescents?

What’s more, Tyler’s inappropriate streak hurts his credibility. The guy drew mostly rave reviews for his initial Idol appearances, but we’re still very early into the season, and Tyler still has yet to show he can deliver the goods in the high-pressure context of Idol‘s live performance episodes (a hurdle that left season 9 judge Ellen DeGeneres lying on her face in the dirt last year).

For now, Tyler should be focusing solely on providing great critiques, great constructive criticism, and great entertainment. And if dude really, really can’t get through an hour without getting a little randy, then he’d better make sure someone like Sarah Sellers makes it to the voting portion of the competition. After all, that Golden Ticket recipient has a winning sexy-librarian vibe going on, and better still, she’s 28 years old.

What do you think of Steven Tyler’s randy demeanor at the judges’ table? Did it bother you to see him macking on underage female contestants or am I making a mountain out of a couple harmless remarks? Sound off in the comments below, and for all my Idol coverage, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.

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  1. Cherry says:

    I loved Steven Tyler & i wasn’t expecting to. But the leering was a little offputting, especially when put together in the kind of “Steven Tyler is a horny old man” montage that the producers stuck in the show. I think individually it might not have been so bad, but all together, it was a little creepy.

  2. Erika says:

    Interesting you said that after I rewatched it, I was like AWKWARD! Kudo’s to Victoria to keeping it sweet. I’m not sure if I would be that harsh Michael but maybe should be brought to someones attention!?! I wouldn’t say he was hitting on her tho…IMO but Thanks Michael for keeping it real dawg!

  3. Clinton says:

    Look, Mr. Tyler may be kidding around, but anyone entering this contest better get used to this kind of treatment. For better or worse, it’s what they will come to find happens all the time in “the business.” If they can’t figure out how to roll with it when it’s (possibly) spoken in jest — in public — they are probably sunk.

  4. Futurama says:

    You’re making a mountain out of nothing. It’s not like he ran out from behind the desk to hug them.

    • Tracy says:

      I did not take his comments like he was hitting on her at all. I took it like for her age she was showing an appropriate amount of skin. I think people add more to everhthing so they have something to talk about. If your expect the worst that is what you will see.

      • Futurama says:

        I thought it was in good fun and humor, like when he asked Randy if he was checking out the girl with the starts over he breasts.

      • flutiefan says:

        exactly what i thought, Tracy. she wasn’t inappropriately dressed for her age, which many of the girls trying for these shows are.

    • wayno says:

      Oh yes he did.

  5. bee says:

    I actually didn’t think he was leering at that moment. I thought he was wryly commenting on her calculated presentation of self. I actually paused and howled after he said “and just the right amount.” That’s when he won me over as judge.

    • Lourdes says:

      Totally agree. If you’ve seen really lascivious rockers (like Gene Simmons, or even Bret Michaels at times), it gets pretty clear what the difference between that and the comments Steve made. Especially in Vanessa’s case, it appeared to be a sly comment on how manufactured she was coming across.

    • Susan says:

      Totally agree also. I usually agree with Slezak (and followed him here from EW just for his insights on AI), but in this case, it’s almost like he’s never heard of snark. That girl was so pageant and manufactured and not someone Tyler would ever remotely hit on. He was being purely snarky, as was JLo frankly. Please watch it again, Michael! You are making a great point here, but by using the totally wrong example you’ve lost your argument.

    • H says:

      I agree 100% with you and you said it better than I could. I feel that Michael has it totally wrong and I usually agree with him. Steven was only truly flirtatious with women of age. I felt that he had the perfect reaction to Vanessa, as you pointed out.

    • I think Steven Tyler is just being his sexy self. I think he is part of the reason the ratings are so high! People want to see him be himself. He IS SEXY. If the producer’s hadn’t wanted that to raise their ratings, which he has done, they shouldn’t have hired him.

  6. Patrick says:

    You wouldn’t be saying this if he didn’t have the “rep” already. There was nothing inappropriate about his comment about the length of the skirt.

    • Thom says:

      I doubt he’d be saying it if Steven Tyler was 26 rather than 62. Had a 26-year-old male judge said it to a 16-year-old female contestant, most people wouldn’t bat an eye so . . . as much as a charge of “sexism” could be levied at Tyler, part of the negative reaction to Tyler could also be labeled “age-ism.”

  7. Jennifer says:

    I cannot wait for the live shows. He’s going to bring more crazy than Paula ever did.

  8. sonja says:

    His perviness is going to be interesting during the live broadcasts I’m not sure why AI did a whole bit about his pervy comments, gross!

  9. Mooshki says:

    Amen. But we all know Producer Nigel Lythgoe won’t do anything about it since he does the same thing on So You Think You Can Dance. (Although typically with 18 year olds, so at least they aren’t underage.) :(

    • Babblonia says:

      Nigel totally does that, you are right. But a lot of people noticed it last week. He needs to put a lid on it.

    • Not Nigel Fan says:

      I worked on another one of Nigel’s show and he was VERY inappropriate with the young female contestants backstage. I have details I will give the authors of this site privately, if they wish to email me.

  10. Laura says:

    Nothing new here. I’m from Massachusetts and know people who are good friends with him and that is his MO. He’s made sexual comments about his daughters. He thinks Liv is hot and has great breasts and he’s said this in interviews. More of this to come.

  11. Tina says:

    When Simon Cowell was on the show and said anything remotely the same as Steven Tyler nothing was ever said. Steven is just being Steven and I think he brings some funnyness (if that’s a word) to the show. I’m glad he was put on the show. Keep on keeping on Steven!!

  12. Idol8Fan says:

    Yes it stood out as glaringly inappropriate and I immediately thought how did that not end up on the cutting room floor.

    That wasn’t the only reason I almost didn’t watch the next night though. The first show was awfully tedious. Another like it and I’d drop watching Idol this season. Luckily the second show was delightful. The singers sang and those who could not sing well weren’t dwelled upon.

    If what others have commented here is true that we are likely to get a lot of sexual comments from the judging table this season I am unlikely to watch to the end of the season or I’ll Fast Forward past that judge via DVR.

  13. Tek says:

    Without a doubt, Steven Tyler made some inappropriate comments and leering toward underaged girls, but the length of the skirt one wasn’t the raised my eyebrows. Part of the problem with the montage is that you don’t know exactly how old the girls are and which comments were geared toward which girls. It is definitely a cause for concern, as people will emulate his behavior because he is a public figure. That’s not to say he is responsible for others’ choices, just that the judges are in a position of authority and should show due respect to the contestants if they are going to allow minors to participate in the program. If Steven Tyler was a teacher of minors, it wouldn’t be a discussion. Up the age to 18 or follow the rules for dealing with minors as a person of authority.

    • PV says:

      I really enjoy the metaphor you used. If he was a school teacher this behaviour would be unacceptable even if girls should “get used to it” – which is the worst excuse for his behaviour ever btw.

      For people saying that girls should get used to this – way to blame the victim. You are saying that it is okay for a man to make unsolicited sexual comments towards women. This is not okay in any context.

      • Tek says:

        I agree that the “you better get used to it defense” is bogus. These are young girls and boys and it is just as wrong for Steve to make comments about a girl under 18 as it was for Kara if she was making those comments to a boy under 18. The bottom line is that when you are in a position of authority when dealing with a minor, the rules are different.

        Regarding Nigel’s comments on SYTYCD…we’ve been watching the show since season two and I personally have cringed at some of his comments and actions…especially with some of the girls still in high school. What he does in this case, I’m not sure, but I think that they should err on the side of caution. We are talking about minors. That said, I would hope that the parents of said kids would make it known if they were uncomfortable and pull their kids out if they felt strongly about it.

  14. ErixN says:

    I didn’t think anything of it until someone kept making a big deal about it. I thought he was just discussing how she was presenting herself. Can we move on now, please?

    • dona says:

      YES! let’s move on. he was just commenting on their appearance, helping them feel comfortable but there not nothing obscene about it. The problem was the editing that yielded to a preconcieved narrative of the sex addict rock star. in all his interviews he said how he related to these kids because he has teenagers of his own.
      now, let’s move on indeed!

  15. dj says:

    Thanks for Idoloonies. It wouldn’t be the same going through a season of Idol without your videos, Michael. It would be like having the teacher from hell and having no classmate to commiserate with.

    The comment about the length of skirt I took almost as Stephen giving goody-goody girl crap like she thought she could ever be sexy with that demeanor of hers, but some of the other comments and leers have been a bit creepy, I agree. But Simon got weird sometimes, too, like when he kissed Lakisha and the constant groping of Paula. Of course, they weren’t underage. If there was nothing weird–no Ryan Seacrest strange comments, no squabbling amongst the judges, no unfathomable remarks or seemingly drunken behavior–Idol would lose something intangible that is part of what makes the show work.

  16. Alex says:

    Stay classy Tyler…

  17. ppro says:

    I found it disturbing. We were going to play a drinking game involving shots taken whenever S-ty made an inappropriate comment, but we got drunk within the first half hour….

  18. Babblonia says:

    Nigel totally does that, you are right. But a lot of people noticed it last week. He needs to put a lid on it. Jennifer will take care of it.

  19. Brian Dunkleman's Shrink says:

    How many times have Paula, Kara and Ellen pointed out how attractive certain male contestants are? “You’re sexy”…”The girls obviously love you”… Just because it’s couched in an “Aw, shucks” manner doesn’t make it that different from what Steven Tyler’s doing. Remember what Tim Urban had to put up with on a nightly basis last year? That was far more demeaning than anything we’ve seen of Steven.

    • Maggie says:

      Good point, Brian’s Shrink. I remember cringing during last season’s Idol every time Kara DioGuardi started drooling over the guys – especially Casey James. Sick. I think Steven Tyler is quick witted and playful, nothing more. Let’s just “try” to enjoy this season, shall we? Actually picking people apart IS part of the fun. Just don’t agree in this case. Having said that, keep up the good work, Mr. Slezak. Soooo glad you are back!!!

  20. ICOP189 says:

    If you all cant deal with a couple funny comments here and there then dont watch the show. its Steven Tyler for gods sake! what did you think he would act like?! Simon used to tear these kids apart but you all thought THAT was funny right? i mean it did make him very rich. and anyone who has kids out there, you know very well that they dont just “grow up” overnite on their 18th birthday. these kids have seen and heard much worse im sure even in school. lay off Steven Tyler.

  21. maggie says:

    I thought Steven Tyler was awesome…nothing untoward about it, until people kept harping on it. Give it a rest.

  22. meghan says:

    Slezak, I usually love you but calm down here. I saw nothing obscene about his remarks. they were a combination of sweet, fatherly, and playful but not in a bad way. he always knew how to calm the contestants down, or bring that spirit out of them. I am a woman and had I auditioned infront of such legends these remarks would have helped me loosen up.

  23. Tracee says:

    ITA, I’m giving Idol another chance to win me back this season but my skin starts to crawl anytime Steven Tyler almost licks his very large lips in the direction of anything with a vagina, no matter the age, but most especially with children. It’s pervy and gross and turns me off.

  24. Ellie says:

    Not worried about it! Stephen is cute and he is a rock star. It was not off putting to me at all. I didn’t even notice it as out of the ordinary until you mentioned it. Hopefully, these girls will take it in the spirit it was given in!

  25. Dev says:

    I think it was extremely inappropriate and disgusting and I have noticed it the first time I watched… the skirt comment was just so creepy but there were other instances where he was just looking at the young girls as they were an object of “inappropriate” (for the lack of better words) attention from Tyler !!!
    I totally agree and I don’t like my teenage daughters watch this and think it is normal !!!!

  26. Dev says:

    It was just repulsive and disturbing to me and my whole family !!!

  27. Jessabean says:

    I have to disagree. He is not a schoolteacher, he’s a rock star and not just any rock star, he’s Steven Tyler. It would be weird if he didn’t react to women in stripper heals and sheath mini-skirts! I’m referring, of course, to the “dirty old man montage.” they showed flashes of those women and they were all dressed to impress … Steven Tyler.

    I actually loved his comment to the young girl (the 16yo whose parents escaped Yugoslavia) that he liked the fact that she played her looks down. He knows what he’s talking about.

    Also, I have always found Simon Cowell’s “flirting” soooo so so much creepier than anything Steven Tyler said last week. That always gave me the heebie jeebies. Tyler just makes me laugh.

  28. Steve says:

    I do agree with Michael 100% on this one.
    Seems that quite a few people are just be blinded by being Steven Tyler’s fan so they probably would tolerate just about anything if it comes from him !!!!
    I think it is wrong and sick for man of his age to look and comment on underage girls like he did !!!

  29. Kevin Briand says:

    Steven is a breath of fresh air. LOVE HIM. You guys are reading things into his behaviour from your own dirty minds. Dream On!

  30. Eolra says:

    I agree that the “dirty old man” montage was in poor taste – as said earlier in the comments, individually those “moments” wouldn’t make you bat an eyelash, but when edited all together it paints a distasteful picture. I did want to point out however, that S-Ty was not the only one doing the flirting, there was more than one girl saying things like “I’ve had a crush on you forever tee hee!”. I don’t find him “taking the bait” that a contestant has offered particularly offensive, but we are not always privy to what conversation has transpired beforehand, particularly in quick montage edits. I also didn’t take his comments towards Victoria as a come-on, my impression was that it was a sarcastic comment.

  31. JL says:

    Just watched Idol for the first time this season (Milwaukee). I LOVE the new panel! Not only is Steven Tyler fascinating and never-dull, but the energy of the three together is great — seems happier, quicker and more collaborative. I like how they keep switching up the order, too. One comment for J Lo — she always seems to be looking off camera at the director/producers. Eyes in front! It’s distracting. I like how she pulls them all together with her spot in the middle.

    Other than feeling good about the general energy, I agree that Steven Tyler needs to dial back the flirty/sexy/predatory vibe toward certain contestants. I’m sure Fox is editing it to be more pronounced and awkward than it is, but I think it’s a mistake. He’s at risk of being marginalized for this behavior – and it’s a terrible message to young girls (and boys). Thanks Michael for calling attention to it.

  32. Margie says:

    The thing is, these were edited shows! Which means that FOX signed off on every comment that was included. It is possible that FOX will go back and re-edit upcoming shows to include fewer of his inuendo-laden comments but what the heck are they going to do when it’s live????

    Having said that – I’m liking Steven. Simon Who?

  33. Bebe says:

    You all have it wrong.

    You missed the nuance of the exchanges. He was making fun of her.

    Stephen Tyler was being tongue-in-cheek with that little girl. Everything she did, wore and said was perfect, “age apprpriate”, the perfect little lady. He was saying “…and, of course, your skirt is the “perfect” length, too, isn’t it?, Just the right amont of leg. (for a little perfect belle…)” And she said, of course, it’s just the right amont of leg”

    He was making fun of her, YOU DOLT! Having her on. Making fun of how perfect and proper she was for her age. Man. You guys are thick!

  34. MissLisa1970 says:

    Oh look-here comes the media villagers with their torches to burn down what’s left of any FUN on TV anymore!

    Idol has been “abysmal” since the finale of season 8. WITH Simon present. That said-anyone who blames this season’s potential (remains to be seen) failure on Simon’s absence will in essence-be blind or hugely Cowell biased. This show has needed a “tune-up” (pun intended) for a long time. Some seasons are better than others but season 8 by far is the best season. It had the largest number of really talented contestants with engaging charm unique to the individual. Season 8 left you with MANY favorites, not just a few. Certainly made voting a challenge bc if you’re like me-you pretty much loved the majority of the top 10. Paula must’ve sensed this-She left after that season ended. Simon finally resigned himself to the fact after last season and he dipped when the gettin’ was good! Paula’s gone, Simon’s gone, Seacrest is hanging on by a thread. He’s like–hosting EVERYTHING on TV these days, what does he need with an increasingly boring show that’s on it’s last days? What’s the producers to do? Get rid of Kara, (extra baggage from jump!) get rid of the HUGE mistake that was Ellen replacing Paula..and..GET NEW JUDGES! but keep Randy on board for fond familiarity.

    Just so happens (tho i don’t rightly know how) Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler were chosen as who producers thought would save the sinking ship in the sea of ratings. It should be mentioned that viewership (for the season premier of Idol) was down 13% from last year, and even more since season 8-but i digress. It’s indeed too early in the game (admittedly) to form any conscience opinion based on just two weeks. However, my personal consensus so far is that JLo is an “iffy” chick that so far just hasn’t dazzled me but then again, with the exception of a few songs, she hasn’t really ever dazzled take that opinion for what it’s worth. Maybe it’s my heart’s lament for Simon and Paula’s departures that sways my judgment of her at the mo..but Steven? Steven is a the epitome of “must see TV” You just never know what he’s going to say..much like Simon-he’s unabashed and apparently sans filter! Only, not as brash and pompous. (I’ll miss Simon!) So, what does that mean X-actly?! He’s making things…dare i say it…”interesting?” So he’s a little he’s a tad flirty. Despite his age, he’s not privy to Viagra just yet people! He comes from the old skool groupie days of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll! He’s just having delightful flashbacks of past concert partying glory. Lest you forget this is a man who has daughters! Do you HONESTLY think he would be decidedly inappropriate on National TV? Know however, somewhere there is a overly made up 13 yr old girl (who looks 18) anxious to get backstage to her favorite rock star. (ah..misty water color memories-of the way we..uh nevermind) Somewhere there is some scum bag pseudo record producer seducing a naive wanna be waiting for that contract. In comparison-He’s harmless! call off the dogs! Stop analyzing every single thing that’s actually entertaining and just sit back and ya know..’watch’

  35. Jess says:

    Oh Give me a break. He had a daughter that age once. Give the guy a break. After all I am sure he has been in the business long enough to know what sells and what does not.

  36. Gary says:

    Think Steven Tyler awesome on Idol.

  37. cassandra says:

    I have to say I am dissapointed to see that fox would think it is ok to have him behaving that way . This has always been a night for my daughters and I to watch as a family . DISGHUSTING I will no longer watch him eye the girls up and down IDOL REWIND to a family friendly version or it will be your down fall.

  38. shawn welling says:

    i think steven tyler is doing great on american idol. i don;t think his comments were horrible, just mildly amusing to me

  39. Adrian says:

    You are pathetic.
    A sexy woman is…sexy.
    A man that notices this…notices this.

    What you are purporting is 2-fold.

    1/ that the man should fake indifference.
    2/ the admiration of the beauty of not just the opposite sex but specifically that of the fairer sex noticed by the other should be connected to lust and furthermore connected to the intent of the satisfaction of that lust.

    It is possible to admire a beautiful woman at any age of your life. Her beauty is not proportional to your age.
    It is possible to admire the beauty of a woman at any stage of her life from the beginning of her flower to the withering of it. That beauty also has nothing to do with the age difference to the admirer.

    So do not bundle the rest of us into your gutter or your closed mind.
    It is ironic that the nation most uptight about morality and nakedness has the number of highest vice crimes in the world.

  40. Jake says:

    Think people get too excited about a few off the cuff remarkable don’t think a comment on a 16 year old girls appearance is any harm. If she was 10 or 12 might have some quibble with it