Cowell was apparently attempting to make a joke off a comment made by his co-judge Paulina Rubio, whose imperfect command of the English language left her trying to tell contestant Jeff Gutt he should put everything in his performance (as in, pour all the blood, sweat and tears into it).
It came out that he should "show more blood," and Cowell ran with it.
"So, you want him to cut himself," Cowell said. "Basically, she wants you to stab yourself. Jeff, please do not cut yourself."
And while Cowell's comments may have been in poor taste in any contest, they were seen as particularly offensive considering he was sharing the judging table with Demi Lovato, who has recently opened up about her history of self-harm.
Despite Lovato's penchant for challenging Cowell, she said nothing about his remarks. But her fans on Twitter lashed out at the judge.
@SimonCowell it's one thing to playfully bicker with demi, but to make a cutting comment on national television when demi's right there.....— megan 93 (@fifthvato) December 5, 2013
@SimonCowell lets not joke about cutting, Demi is RIGHT THERE!— Ashley Lovato ⚓❤ (@DemiMySexvato) December 5, 2013
I will keep tweeting you @SimonCowell until you say you shouldn't have made comments on cutting its not okay. -Apologize-— Demi Lovato Fans (@welovatoyoudemi) December 5, 2013