'X Factor New Zealand' Judges Under Fire for 'Bullying' Contestant

Joseph Llanes
Natalia Kills photographed at The New New Artists Residency at the Bootleg Theatre in Los Angeles, CA

Well, that escalated quickly.

Two judges for The X Factor NZ, the TV talent competition's New Zealand spinoff, are facing heavy backlash for their nasty words to one contestant during a live broadcast on Sunday night. The married couple Natalia Kills and Willy Moon, both musicians and performers, took a swift dislike to the young singer Joe Irvine and, according to The New Zealand Herald, made their feelings known immediately after he finished a performance of "Cry Me a River."

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"I'm just going to state the obvious: we have a doppleganger in our midst," began Kills, an English pop singer who has toured with LMFAO. Appraising Irvine's natty blue suit and slim tie, she continued, "As an artist who respects creative integrity and intellectual property, I am disgusted at how much you have copied my husband, from the hair to the suit. Do you not have any value or respect for originality?"

Her words only grew harsher as she further compared Irvine to her husband Moon - who, conspicuously, was not wearing a blue-and-white suit combination that evening. "You're a laughingstock," she added. "It's cheesy, it's disgusting. I personally found it absolutely artistically atrocious. I am embarrassed to be sitting here in your presence having to even dignify you with an answer of my opinion... You make me sick."

As Irvine struggled to maintain composure onstage, and the studio audience booed, Moon added his own damning judge's critique. "It's like Norman Bates dressing up in his mother's clothing. It's just a little bit creepy," said the New Zealand-born singer-songwriter, referencing the villain of Psycho. "I feel like you're going to stitch someone's skin to your face and then kill everyone in the audience."

The backlash to Kills and Moon has been swift. TV3, the network that broadcasts The X Factor, called the incident "bullying" on its Facebook page, and posted a supportive photo of Irvine:

 
Post by TV3.

 

The couple has also been the subject of various online vengeances; a Change.org petition to remove Kills from The X Factor had over 35,000 signatures at press time, and Kills' Wikipedia page continues to fluctuate; for much of Sunday, it has opened with the biographical information, "Natalia Kills is a Lady Gaga wannabe."

Benny Tipene, runner-up on the prior season of The X Factor NZ, said he was "gutted that I went back on the show now eh. Especially with someone so heartless. F*** that feedback." Others are taking to Twitter to criticize Kills and Moon for their brutal words and their dubious claims of sartorial originality:

Kills has not responded to the backlash yet, saying only on Twitter:

TV3 also apologized recently on Moon's behalf after he allegedly swore at a woman in the parking lot of a bakery; Moon and Kills had previously accused the woman of lying.

Watch the nasty confrontation on The X Factor NZ:

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