Monday, April 09, 2007
He's an angel walking among us on the face of this earth...
I never really watched “American Idol,” and I couldn’t name any of the alumni from past seasons, except for Kelly Clarkson and, more recently, Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson, both of whom I like. And this season I don’t know any of the contestants by name, except for the controversial! Sanjaya. Since there is nothing of importance happening in the entire world I’m gonna tell you about my darling Sanjaya. Both groups of people (“voting for him is ruining the integrity of the show!” and “Vote for the worst!”) have it all wrong.
The Vote For the Worst website holds the position that it is entertaining to see a “fish out of water” and making the producers squirm. Sanjaya is clearly out of his league, but holding on to a regular spot – indeed, not even being in the bottom three – has proven him to be anything but a fish out of water. In addition, many of the Vote for the Worst supporters hold that “American Idol” is about “manufacturing a pop star” and, well, this’ll show ‘em! First, in my opinion, the show is not the televised equivalent of the Spice Girls or NSYNC. The contestants who get through are the ones who really can sing (Sanjaya had something to get to Hollywood and onto the first round of the show) and, furthermore, most of the contestants year after year look a mess. When you give the option to the shows viewership, a sizeable number of which are pre-teen girls, they’re gonna vote for the cute one with the cool hair. (Of course they’re too young to realize that he has a little sugar in the tank, so to speak, but that didn’t stop George Michael in his hayday.)
There are some highly unattractive people competing with their voices alone to work with. So if the Vote for the Worst crowd is doing anything, it’s supporting the contestant that is the most in need of manufacturing. If Sanjaya wins (and full disclosure is I hope he totally does) then they’ll put his pretty ass in a recording studio, tweak his vocals and produce the hell out of a 12 song CD. I am not the first to realize that through the magic of industry, just anyone can be made into a pop singer. I think, as far as popular music goes these days outside of the legends, Sanjaya will be as good if not better than anyone. And the Vote for the Worst movement will have proved what…that a show that is loathed for “manufacturing” pop stars was really taught a lesson for having to do just that with a Sanjaya win? Whatever.
Now the people who are crying into their palms about Sanjaya’s success are eye-roll inducing. What could they possibly be angry about? This beloved show set itself up for this inevitable moment of a little Indian cutie with a mediocre singing voices taking the cake. Don’t hate, congratulate. Publicity stunts like going on hunger strikes and camping out on top of a car dealership are worse examples of pathetic clamoring for acknowledgement than Sanjaya accepting the mad love he's receiving from both fans and those who mock with the vote. (Incidentally the hunger-strike girl looks like she could stand to miss a few meals, and has ended her strike anyway, "due to medical reasons" which likely include "people have to eat to survive".)
Democracy is how we’ve wound up with Sanjaya. God bless America.
Anyway, here’s the thing about “American Idol” and people’s “shattered dreams”: it’s not so much about winning as it is about doing something with the publicity after the show. Sometimes the winners get big like Kelly, sometimes the non-winners get big like Jennifer Hudson and Clay Aiken’s gay ass. So while there are fans of the show crying about how Sanjaya is shattering the dreams of more worthy singers, those worthy singers still have had the opportunity of a lifetime to get on with their careers. Hell, there was even that gayish boy that quit the last season so he could do his own thang. I mean, nothing ever really came of that for him, but he understood the principle I’m working with here. I’d also like to point out that winning is Sanjaya’s dream too, even if he’s not the most talented on the show. This is what happens when, rather than letting the judges pick who moves on, you open the voting to the American public via cell phones and the internet. Upsets, baby. Sanjaya likely knows what’s going on with Vote For the Worst and Howard Stern, and he’s running with it. I, for one, can’t blame him.