Is America's Got Talent's 'Zero Tolerance' For Bullying New For Season 15?

Simon Cowell America's Got Talent NBC

Warning! The following contains spoilers for the America's Got Talent Season 15 episode that aired June 16, 2020. Read at your own risk!

America's Got Talent went through another round of auditions in its latest episode, and while there were a few unexpected performances, it was the typical standard fare of talented singers, acrobats, dancers and sideshow acts. The real highlight of the night came from Simon Cowell, who made a timely statement in regards to the show's stance on bullying.

Simon Cowell's big moment came after a stunning diabolo performance from The Spyros Bros, and an impassioned statement from America's Got Talent contestant and super fan Marco Angelo Betito. Betito spoke about his rough upbringing, and how he was bullied a lot in his youth for a learning disability and for being in special education. Betito was praised by the judges for his performance, and Cowell threw in the following during his comments:

There is a zero tolerance on this show for bullying.

The statement made sense in context of Marco Angelo Betito's story, though there's a question of whether that policy was new for Season 15. It's no secret America's Got Talent is currently under scrutiny for its treatment of ousted judge Gabrielle Union, and that situation has escalated since these tapings for Season 15. Per a report from Variety, there were changes made for how AGT operated following Union's exit.

Was Simon Cowell's statement a subtle acknowledgement of America's Got Talent complaints and subsequent changes, or just a genuine statement made regarding the situation at the time? It's really hard to say, and I wonder if the statement made the final cut of the episode to let fans know that AGT won't tolerate the bullying or engage in harsh treatment of competitors.

It is a little ironic that this statement is coming from Simon Cowell, who made a career on television for brutal honesty and occasional cruel commentary. Cowell has mellowed out (mostly) in the latest years of his America's Got Talent tenure, but even then there have been questions about some of his behavior.

Could this all be an overanalysis of a casual comment? Sure, but even then I can't help but question the validity of the statement or when the zero tolerance policy was instilled given the controversies America's Got Talent has faced in recent months. Let's not forget that fans went after Heidi Klum the week prior for allegedly body-shaming a contestant, so I'd be curious to know some more details behind Cowell's statement and what that means for AGT competitors.

America's Got Talent airs on NBC Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET. Continue to stick with CinemaBlend for more on the competition, and for the latest news happening in television and movies.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick Joest is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend with his hand in an eclectic mix of television goodness. Star Trek is his main jam, but he also regularly reports on happenings in the world of Star Trek, WWE, Doctor Who, 90 Day Fiancé, Quantum Leap, and Big Brother. He graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Radio and Television. He's great at hosting panels and appearing on podcasts if given the chance as well.