OK, is it just us, or have all the male TV critics gone on a stop-picking-on-Sanjaya-Malakar campaign? First it was Verne Gay in Newsday who wrote last Tuesday:
"Every season, there is someone from the top 12 who must absorb the body blows from the 'Idol Nation.' This season, it is the burden of one Sanjaya Malakar, 17 years old, from Federal Way, Wash. - he with the hair, and the hula, and the smile so wide and so preternaturally bright. Turn anywhere - to any paper, radio station, Web site or TV channel - and the water is chummed, boiling with sharks. ... So today, something radically different: A fresh appraisal. I'm going to vote for Sanjaya tonight and not because votefortheworst.com told me to. Even if - or when - he butchers his song, I'm going to vote for him because he's got heart - and courage and moxie and class. Whether we're willing to admit it or not, he's got talent, too. I'm going to vote for him because when I was 17, I barely even made it to class, much less subject myself to the abuse of an abuse-happy Idol Nation."
Bleech. Should we seat you next to Ashley Ferl this week? You, she and Argentina can all cry for Sanjaya together. And as if that wasn't enough, on Friday People magazine's Tom Gliatto jumped on the sensitivity bandwagon with this:
"Hey! You! America! Leave the kid alone! If the huge force mobilized against Sanjaya Malakar doesn't back off, I hope he wins the whole competition. I'm sorry to say that, Melinda Doolittle, but when someone on MySpace announces a hunger strike until Sanjaya is voted off, then I say things have gone too far. Note to the MySpace protester: You know what? I might go on a hunger strike until you end yours. [Like anyone cares, Gliatto]. If I have to weigh my own need for nutrition against Sanjaya's need for support and tolerance, there's no question: No carbs for me. I just don't get it. If a polling outfit could take Sanjaya's approval rating it would probably be lower than President Bush's, and yet why the hostility? Why the hysteria, the anger? He's a 17-year-old singing his heart out, and missing and sometimes quashing notes in the process, but he can dance, he can rock a little. And every Wednesday morning the poor guy has to wake up with that hair falling over his eyes and the thought that probably millions of people are gossiping about his performance the night before and wishing he were the one about to be voted out. I can't stop thinking of the last thoughts of the doomed narrator of Camus' The Stranger: 'I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate.' Now read it again, only imagine it's Sanjaya talking. There's no need for hate, America. As Diana Ross herself said: 'Sanjaya is love.' "
You see this Gliatto? It's the smallest violin in the world and it's playing the saddest song in the world just for you. Wake up! How melodramatic can you get? Malakar put himself on the line -- tried out numerous times -- in the hopes that millions of people would be gossiping about his performance the next day. Of course, he was hoping it would be good gossip, and if he had done well, they would be saying about him what they're saying about Jordin Sparks, the other 17-year-old in the competition. And you wouldn't be writing your column. As Simon Cowell has said, "This is a talent competition, and some people were very good ... some people were dreadful."
People who try out for Idol know they will be subject to ridicule, whether they are 16 or 28. It's part of the game, and if you don't want to risk it, don't play. No one put a gun to Sanjaya's head to try out, and if his parents felt he was too sensitive to take the criticism or ridicule, they should not have signed a consent agreement to let him appear on the show.
Should humans ridicule others humans? Probably not, but how come you haven't written columns about Don Rickles? He's made a career out of snarky. And when was the last time you chastised Letterman, Leno, Kimmel or Conan for doing the exact same thing in their monologues? Is it better to make fun of the poster children of dysfunction, such as Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan?
And don't forget, all of the Sanjaya ridicule is packaged in tons of teenage adulation. You can't have one without the other. Is it better that a million teens unrealistically tell him he's the best singer in the competition just because their hormones are beginning to kick in? You don't think that's going to let him in for a fall when they don't remember his name a year from now? Where are all your columns on how unfair it is to be a child star and have everyone forget you after your 15 minutes of fame are up? So stop crying for Sanjaya. If he can't take the heat, no one's chained him to the kitchen.
P.S. And you know what? Malakar's ultimately going to make more money off this Idol gig than you two guys are going to earn in your lifetimes -- combined.
... And speaking of voting for Sanjaya, VFTW has partnered with AskMeNow! to bring VFTW updates to your cell phone. People who sign up will receive Sanjaya's phone number as a text message on Tuesday nights in case they can't watch the show. They'll also receive results on Wednesday nights. The service is free, but standard text messaging rates apply.
IDOL BABY PICTURES
Last week AmericanIdol.com posted two baby pictures of each of the 12 finalists, promising they would reveal who was who in a couple of days. They still haven't ID'd the photos. Here are photos (our guesses next to each picture):
MORE COWELL CONTROVERSY
Simon Cowell involved in controversy? It's certainly not a stop the presses moment. Except this time it's in the UK and involves Randy Jackson. Huh? Well, you see, Randy Jackson has been lined up to appear on the British TV talent show "The X Factor," produced by Simon Cowell's company. Jackson is pumped about the opportunity, saying, "I would love to do it. I can't wait to come to London. It will be a fantastic opportunity. I love working with Simon. We're great friends." Jackson is set to replace Irish music mogul and axed panel member Louis Walsh, whose departure from the series was announced earlier this month.
And that's where Simon comes in, or, well rather didn't according to Walsh, who was fired by the producers without a word from Cowell, who also appears as a judge on the series. According to Entertainmentwise.com, Cowell originally admitted he should have talked to Louis Walsh over his sacking as an "X Factor" judge. "I should have called Louis - he has every reason to believe he's been stabbed in the back. At some stage we are going to have a conversation and I’ll see how he feels. But he's got to get off his chest what he wants to get off his chest - he thinks I stabbed him in the back." Cowell was less kind about fellow judge Sharon Osbourne, who accused him of being a "coward," saying "Sharon hasn't called me and she doesn't know the facts. Unless you know the facts then she shouldn't say what she said."
Walsh ultimately landed a role on the forthcoming BBC talent show "Any Dream Will Do," which features young hopefuls auditioning for the lead role in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." But the continued negative publicity about the incident seems to be getting to Cowell. According to Contactmusic.com, Cowell is sick of Walsh's claims that Cowell had him axed from the hit show - insisting he fought to save the Irish music manager's job. "What Louis doesn't know is that he had one defender in that room of seven or eight people and that was me. The only one who defended keeping him on. When Louis wants to get over this and call me and actually find out what happened, I'll tell him. I think he wants to believe there was this horrible conspiracy, that I was wielding the axe. It wasn't like that. Louis was told about 12 hours after I was told. All this stuff saying we knew for weeks is complete and utter rubbish."
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