Katy Perry Accused of 'Mom Shaming' Young Mother of 3 and Former Church Singer on 'American Idol'


Look, I get it: You know what you’re signing up for when you either audition for or watch the auditions for “American Idol.”

The main reason the singing competition was successful in the first place is that Simon Cowell behaved like a man with Gordon Ramsay’s temperament and Oscar Wilde’s penchant for stinging bon mots. In any other workplace situation, one could foresee him being the victim of what a jury determined to be justifiable homicide. But because he was lacerating deluded warblers with his put-downs, America invited him into their living rooms en masse.

However, Cowell 1) has long since left the show and 2) is sui generis. Finding another person who can be as tolerably, hilariously obnoxious as the music industry impresario is an impossible task — and even if you were going to pull it off, Katy Perry wouldn’t be anyone’s first choice.

She’s not really Gordon Ramsay, since Ramsay is both talented and, in spite of his outward image, a genuine human being who is passionate about his work. Oscar Wilde’s wit, meanwhile, is found in books, where Perry is unlikely to be found.

The dangers of sending a Katy Perry to do a Simon Cowell’s job became painfully apparent on March 5 when Sara Beth Liebe — a former church choir singer and a mom of three — auditioned for the show.

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Now, I’m not saying Liebe is Kelly Clarkson, but she also isn’t William Hung. Don’t expect to see anything like this in the coming minutes:

Instead, it was Perry who ended up looking bad, getting accused of “mom-shaming” Liebe during her audition.

In case you’ve never watched “American Idol” (and boy, do I envy you), auditions begin with the judges asking the contestants for a bit of backstory. One judge, Lionel Richie, said he couldn’t believe the young-looking Liebe was 25.

Then she announced she had three kids, which prompted Perry to get out of her seat and lean over the judges’ table.

“If Katy lays down on the table, I think I’m going to pass out,” Liebe said, laughing.

“Honey, you been layin’ on the table too much,” Perry responded.

Right. It turns out that Liebe married young and is a mother of three, which means that — by any moral standard — she can lay wherever she wants with her husband provided there’s an expectation of privacy.

Perry is divorced from labile comedian Russell Brand, to whom she was married for only 14 months. According to Hollywood Life, she’s currently engaged to actor Orlando Bloom, with whom she’s had a child out of wedlock.

If one is to believe her songs are an accurate portrayal of her mores, there’s been a lot more table-laying going on, too; consider her first hit was “I Kissed a Girl” and that it remains relatively tame compared to the rest of her oeuvre, at least the part my ex-girlfriend subjected me to.

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Maybe she’s grown more chaste in the intervening decade, but I suspect that’s about as likely as my relationship with someone who enjoys Katy Perry’s music ending happily ever after. (It emphatically did not.)

So, after that not-funny joke, Perry implied that, because of her motherhood, certain doors might be closed to her.

“Is this your dream? Is it now?” she asked Liebe. “If it’s not your dream, you might need to leave, ’cause there’s a lot of dreams behind you.”

The young mom went on to perform “You Know I’m No Good,” after which Perry said, “That’s not enough. Try ‘Bennie and the Jets.'” Liebe did so.

After saying it was “like a comic strip character came to life,” Perry returned to questioning whether the young mom was sufficiently committed.

“Look, if it’s not your dream, then it’s not gonna go far,” she said. “I also respect everyone that’s walking through that door who would lay down their life for this golden ticket, you know?”

Again, if Liebe stinks, she stinks — but it’s notable the third judge, country star Luke Bryan, gave her a standing ovation.

Bryan gave her a thumbs up to advance to Hollywood, and Perry followed suit, albeit with some snark. “I mean, yeah, I guess, why not?” she said.

While Liebe will get a chance to prove herself in the next round of “American Idol,” social media users weren’t thrilled with the mom-shaming — especially since part of Perry’s carefully cultivated image is that she wants to empower her gender.

“Truly, @katyperry has proven she doesn’t care about all women,” one person wrote.

“I really do not like how Katy Perry just treated Sara Beth on #AmericanIdol I don’t watch this show at all and my tv was already on the channel but what I witnessed was not right. They let Katy Perry bully this woman on live national tv before she even started singing. So ugly,” another said.

Again, I get it: The reason many people tune in to the audition episodes of “American Idol” is the cattiness. They want to see the judges subjected to talentless hacks and then play “Mystery Science Musical Theater 3000” with them.

However, getting personal about someone marrying young and starting a family — like people used to do in America before we decided any kind of commitment before the age of 35 was tantamount to slavery — is beyond the pale, particularly since this wasn’t atrocious.

What’s more, the mom-shaming came from an artist whose songs seem to focus on two topics: promiscuous sex and female empowerment. Come on baby, you’re a firework! Come on, show ’em what you’re worth! You’re going to hear me roar! Unless you’re a mom with three kids, then stop laying on the table and dreaming about a singing career.

Was Katy Perry out of line?

Whatever. Listen, Katy: I’ve heard enough of your dreck in my ex-girlfriend’s Hyundai, and I’d much rather have been in the audience when this woman sang in her church choir. In fact, add William Hung to the chorus and I’d still rather be there. It’s not out of sour grapes, mind you — just a matter of good taste.

As a pop star, you’re no Taylor Swift.

As an “American Idol” judge, you’re no Simon Cowell.

And I’d be willing to wager that when it comes to setting an example as a mother, you’re no Sara Beth Liebe, either.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture