So here’s a disclaimer: I’m not an American Idol fan. I actually believe American Idol brings out the worst in America and the worst Americans. But all this fuss about Sanjaya Malakar and whether he should or should not win the title, is just too good to pass up. I mean Howard Stern, starvation stunts, and even MySpace pages devoted to Sanjaya are all over the Internet. The nation is obsessed with the Sanjaya brand. And he’s only 17. Either this is an uber-effective marketing campaign by the producers of American Idol or Sanjaya is the savviest 17-year old this side of Delhi.
Truthfully, the most interesting thing about this whole Sanjaya craze is not Sanjaya himself. Basically, he’s just a mediocre singer with a nice head of hair. What’s enticing is the American public’s reaction to Sanjaya — on both sides of the opinion polls — and the extreme measures people will go to take Sanjaya on as their cause du jour.
Take J for example. The 23-year old New Yorker, who looks like she hasn’t missed a meal for quite some time, decides to starve herself until America votes Sanjaya off the show. No, she doesn’t do this in the privacy of her home — that’s so anorexic — she does it on YouTube of course (the place where every privileged teenager with a dream goes to become famous). J is using technology for the betterment of mankind. I mean in today’s world, what other reason would there be to take a stand? The Iraq war, REAL children starving, and global warming are so passe. Really, what better way to spend your energy then on Sanjaya-mania?
Then there’s Howard Stern. He wants America to vote for Sanjaya so he’ll win and expose American Idol as a farce. Stern and his friends over at votefortheworst.com have been trying to secure votes for Sanjaya to the dismay of Sanjaya fans everywhere who want him to win on his own merit (good luck).
All of this adds up to one thing. Technology is becoming a little too good at its own game. Technology, the great equalizer, which brings disparate people together and fuels globalization, is now being used so anyone, anywhere can voice their opinions about anything. You want to starve yourself? Great. You’ll have an audience of 200,000 to watch and egg you along. You can’t think of a reason to contemplate suicide? Don’t worry. Just tune into American idol and watch Sanjaya sing. You’ll be reconsidering by morning.
You think J is just an isolated case of one cooky girl making a show of herself. Over 200,000 people watched J starve herself for Sanjaya until doctor’s orders made her stop. Not only that, but J has 615 friends on MySpace and a group of followers, some of whom have followed in her footsteps and are starving themselves as I write this blog.
Not that the producers over at American Idol are trying to stop them. Any attention is good attention in the world of television marketing. Just ask Ken Warwick, the executive producer of the show. ” The fact of the matter is if someone is on the show getting attention it doesn’t really bother me, obviously.”
And why should it? The Sanjaya brand has American Idol laughing all the way to the bank.