Some time ago, between the insanity of what has been called the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history and its impact on Asian-Americans in respect to self-identity, media portrayal, cultural responsibility and mental illness, a truly monumental and tragic event took place last Thursday, barely getting any front-page media coverage.
I am referring, of course, to Sanjaya Malikar being voted off American Idol.
Okay, so the first paragraph might have a tad bit of sarcasm, but I’m a pop culture junkie, so hear me out: Sanjaya was the first contestant of Asian decent since Jasmine “OMG Flower In My Hair” Trias to make the Top 12. His singing talent was, uhm, questionable, but the conspiracy theories behind him remaining in the competition were downright absurd, from Howard Stern’s “vote for the worst” campaign to how people in Indian call-centers were voting for him en masse, never mind that phone lines only open for a couple of hours after the show and India is, oh, a million time zones away. If anything, the conspiracy theories probably helped his cause due to America’s tendency to side with the underdog (that, and crying 13 year old girls.)
Hell, according to this ABC News Article, people in India didn’t seem to want him as an American Idol; hell, look at the headline – “Indians Say Good Riddance to Sanjaya.” (Although by the phrase “didn’t want him,” they probably meant “couldn’t give a rat’s ass.” Just a cursory glance at an Indian Idol performance and you immediately understand that people in India couldn’t give a shit if a 17 year old kid sang Besame Mucho or not.)
I wouldn’t feel too bad for Sanjaya, however; he’s been doing the talk show circuit, been spotted at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner and travels with security, paparazzi and an entourage. And considering that the most memorable Asian-American to perform on American Idol has been William Hung up to this point, that’s not such a horrible thing.