The most surprising thing on X Factor last night wasn't the bullying tirade by husband and wife judges Natalia Kills and Willy Moon. No, it was the response of the man they had targeted.
Joe Irvine, 25, of Invercargill, smiled calmly throughout those mad, brutal words. And he showed dignity and humour in his response on social media. It was astonishing, because until 9.25pm, March 14, 2015, had been known for one thing and one thing only: the fearful strength of his emotions.
Indeed, if Moon - who, along with Kills, was sacked this afternoon after the incident - is famed for the mask of cool indifference he wears at all times, Irvine is his opposite. Irvine's been seen openly weeping at his every success. Bellowing songs to perfect strangers at markets in Thailand. Adopting a Christ-like pose in an unsuspecting fountain. And, most joyously, making a ragged run to the ocean after finding out Mel Blatt had selected him for the live shows.
That emotion seems to come from the stark contrast it bears with much of his life prior to this extraordinary moment. I, like so many others, adored him for the way he handled himself, for his bravery and how free he appeared from the shame reflex which keeps us small and ordinary. I was intensely curious about him, and wanted to know more about where all that feeling came from. ...