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Supporting Sanjaya = Racism?

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MeraGussaII on O3 alleges that the voting for Sanjaya has racial overtones. The blogger alleges that most of the votes Sanjaya is receiving is from Indians or people of desi origin. I say Sanjaya is this year’s version of Chicken Little.

Uber Desi was one of the first blogs (arguably the first) to pick up on the participation of the Malakar siblings in this season’s American Idol. The reasons for our interest at that stage were multiple: the silblings were desi (ok: half), the siblings included a Hooter waitress, the boy was (allegedly) more talented than the girl. The posts detailing their initial audition and that of Shyamali’s ouster are still rated #1 and #2 on our most popular posts of all time. However, in recent weeks Sanjaya, who is currently in the top 12, has been on the receiving end for not performing to expectations. This situation has also been exacerbated by the fact that the most talented male participant Sundance Head was eliminated last week while Sanjaya has stayed on.

My contention is that Sanjaya does not possess the intangiables that make an American Idol. His performances are monotonous. He cannot dance to save his life, hit different notes, move and entertain the audience like a pop star is supposed to. He will be voted off at some stage but all this does not translate to “he is not talented”. He is just not American Idol talented. And as much as we would like to think that Indians or people of desi origin in general are making a significant difference in American Idol voting, that premise may not hold much water.

Looking at the history of American Idol’s previous seasons, this is not the first time an akward teen has stayed on for longer than he’s deserved to.

Among the contestants themselves, Covais looked like he was one of the more popular figures, probably in part because of the massive age distance between him and the rest of the men. Covais is 16; the next youngest of the six male finalists is Ace Young at 25.

Simon Cowell said from the beginning that his fan base was 80-year-old women and 11-year-old girls, and he would have to depend on doting grandparents and schoolgirl crushes to keep him in the competition. Seacrest compared Covais to Chicken Little and jokingly said he was becoming a sex symbol.

Translation, unless tech support people from call centers in India are dialing in to American Idol on their clock,the majority audience and voters for American Idol is the teenybopper crowd. The term racist has been loosely flung around since the proliferation of the Internet and blogs. Here’s a new one: crabs in a barrel.

Update: The term “racism” is being used far too frequently and conveniently and is starting to lose its real meaning. I would reserve words like racist for far more serious issues like this.

UberDesi tip (free of charge – desi ishtyle): For hours of added entertainment, feel free to read the Hindu-Muslim comments in the O3 blog this post links to.

Update: Just so no one misquotes this post – the purpose of this post is to show that the majority of the voters for Sanjaya are the 12-16 teenybopper crowd.

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  • Steve

    I do, but I must admit the main reason I do is because he is from where I live.

    I don't know if that is right, but that is why I mostly feel like I do.

    Also, I like how he unique. I think he is a good enough singer, and I heard from a person who has the same vocal coach as him that he can even be better.

    In the end the show was called "American Idol". Being an idol means more than being a good singer (which I think he is at least as good as most who are considered pop stars today). It takes the X factor. It takes the almost undefinable quality of charisma which I believe Sanjaya has in spades.

    I really believe that Sanjyaya could be the next Michael Jackson. Now, I know such a statement could be taken wrong, so let me clarify. I mean the 1980s' Michael Jackson when he was putting out hits like Billy Jean and Thriller. I mean before Michael Jackson became Wacko Jacko.

    Is Sanjaya really that worst than others who are considered "Pop Stars"? I think not. I quite liked his singing and thought it was unfortunate that he was kicked off American Idol after participating in a genre that really didn't suit him (Country Western). He is Pop. He is about Teeny Boppers, but there is nothing wrong with that.

    But of course my comments are admittedly biased by the fact that he is from my hometown. He (along with Apolo Ohno) helps to give identity to a community sorely lacking any.

  • Steve,
    Obviously you feel strongly about Sanjaya :-)

  • Steve

    By the way, this probably really has nothing to do about the subject we are discussing here but Sanyaja's Mom, I saw her when Sanyaja was at the Mall - boy is she HOT!

    If we are looking at it on racial terms I guess fellow Desi Males can take pride in one of their own being able to nab such a catch.

    By the way, the people at the mall who came to see him, they were all of different races so I believe that proves that race doesn't drive the Sanjaya phenomena. The majority of them were though Teenage Girls which of course is to be expected.

  • Steve

    Sorry, I meant to type about an hour SOUTH of Seattle. Of course that depends on traffic. At peak commuter times it can take as long as 1 and a half hours and during other times perhaps around 45 minutes.

    And it borders part of North Tacoma but to get to the city center of Tacoma, it takes about 30 minutes or so.

  • Steve

    While I can understand the desire, I would have to say supporting someone because his ethnic background (well as least half of his ethnic background) is the same as your own, would indeed be a form of racism.

    What would people think of me saying that I want a candidate to win because he is white? What would people call me if I supported a contestant because he reflected my ethnic background?

    That said. I really like Sanjaya because he comes from the town I have lived over 30 years in.

    Well calling it a town in some ways gives it too much credit. It's suburbia. It borders the city of Tacoma, Washington and is about an hour (depending on traffic) north of the city of Seattle, Washington, but nothing really distinguishes it much. The history of the place doesn't reach much beyond the 1950s. Before that sure there were farms and some businesses but not many, and few of those are still standing. If you look very hard you can find out some of its history before then, but that knowledge is fading. Named for the School District that was named for the High School which was named for a local road, searching for an identity for Federal Way is difficult indeed.

    It is a place where the idea of the "cookie cutter" house plays out. Not only houses but in recent years (say since 1989) apartments. The truth is it is a community where new people are coming in and out constantly. It has a mall, and a few good parks but that is just about it.

    I love Federal Way, for the friendships I have built there, but the truth is that there are only but a few things that really distinguishes it from say Sumner, Normandy Park, Auburn, Kent, or the dozen of other suburban cities no one except those familiar with our region would have heard of. And truthfully that is how mostof us who live here see ourselves as - part of a region not just a town. We might live in Federal Way, but many of us work in another city. Most of us don't really identify with Federal Way as people in say a small town or a mayor city would. For most of us suburbia is just suburbia, and Federal Way is just a place we go to sleep at night.

    Well, I have seemed to have gone far past the point of rambling but the point is that here is Sanajaya who like myself, live in a fundamentally undistinquished city among the cookie cutter homes and apartments and businesses that look like those in other communities in the area, but he was able to rise above the monotony of such a place and distinquish himself. Like him or don't, but still few can say that he isn't unique.

    It's the uniqueness of Sanjaya that I believe attracted so many people to his side.

    And it was so easy for him to disown Federal Way, as many do when in the few cases they find national (and some cases international) renown. But Sanjaya didn't even though he had only lived in the community for about a year.

    The Desi community in Federal Way has in recent years become quite noticable (especially in the apartments) and I am glad to see that they are finding success, but most of all I am glad to see anyone coming from my little piece of suburbia rising above its monotony to find international acclaim.

    So, perhaps it is wrong to support Sanjiya because he is from my hometown but I believe that is far different than supporting him because of his race. His success doesn't merely encourage a particular segment of my community but encourages all in my community to break free from the "cookie cutter" and aspire to something that may be considered better or even worst by others, but at the very least something unique. And while conformity might be the state of most individuals, it's unqiueness that breeds innovation.

  • Gurmit Singh

    Actually it is not racism that people are voting for Sanjaya, he just not the best singer. The Vote for the Worst has backed Scott Savol, Antonella Barba, Kellie Pickler, Kevin Corvais, and Taylor Hicks. These people are not Indian-American.

  • Dude, pipe down. It's hard to tell from the garbage you wrote but I think you're suggesting that 11-16 year old girls voted for him and my post was making the same point. Agreement or disagreement, next time you or anyone else posts garbage like you did, we will ban you.

  • ^$^%$

    shut your shit whole boy. whats your problem? on your fricken retarded poll more than 66% said that he was still on my 11-16 yr old girls, so your little theory is lame and retarded. You are the racist. Indians are not racist, if anyone you are so shut up and get a fricken life.

  • Sarah

    Sanjaya does have an excellent voice. I watch American Idol so much and once i saw there was a brown guy...i was very excited. When i watched his audition, i knew he would make it far. Then when it came to top 24 time... i wouldn't say he completely sucked or he was perfect...he was so-so. Its really odd because all the judges are so negative to him EVERY week. I totally think it's a matter of how he is brown. The judges should be atleast a bit nicer to him. But NO! They are si used 2 white ppl on the show. Its so true that only desi ppl are voting for him. Im not indian here, im Bengali but still, seriously not many ppl vote for him anyways!

  • someone

    Sanjaya has a good voice. It is not true that only "Desi" people are voting for him.

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