Why the Heck is Sanjaya Malakar Still on American Idol?

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The following article is courtesy of The Portsmouth Herald ...

TIME Magazine voted you its person of the year in 2006, and you're already showing off.

You and your fellow Americans have banded together - largely through the use of the Internet and other media - to shape the course of one of America's most popular television shows, American Idol.

Yes, the reality show - now in its sixth season - does voluntarily leave the voting power in the hands of its viewers. But never before has as large a number of viewers been compelled to pick the contestant they consider the least talented.

Sanjaya Malakar Picture
Over the past several weeks, millions of viewers have cast their precious Idol votes not for those largely considered to be most talented, but for 17-year-old Sanjaya Malakar. It's a trend that has prompted threats from the show's creator and judge Simon Cowell, who said he will quit if Malakar wins the competition.

So why are so many people casting their vote for a contestant who, strictly based on vocal talent, probably doesn't deserve it?

It could be any number of reasons, including a desire to belittle the show - or true affection for the contestant. But the point, according to UNH professor Josh Meyrowitz, is this: It's working.

"It's a flexing of the grassroots muscle," said Meyrowitz, a professor of media studies in the Department of Communications.

Meyrowitz linked the Idol phenomenon to a shift in power with relation to new media, the same shift that prompted TIME to name you its person of the year.

"It represents a use of this new power and an awareness of what it will actually work for," Meyrowitz said. "You want a candidate on or off American Idol; you can do it." The new media Meyrowitz refers to includes Internet sites such as votefortheworst.com, which encourages fans to vote for American Idol contestants the producers would hate to see win in an effort to derail the popular show. The site also suggests that keeping contestants like Malakar around makes for a funnier program.

Malakar has even been endorsed by radio show host Howard Stern, who's confessed he'd like to see Malakar win because he's the least talented of this year's finalists.

But despite the success of the movement to support Malakar, Meyrowitz said he is a little discouraged.

"I don't think it's the most mature application of the new technology," he said. "It's kind of a nasty manifestation of the potential."

While describing the media-generated power shift, Meyrowitz repeatedly returned to the image of a rebellious teenager.

"It's kind of like an adolescent saying to (his/her) parents, "You have no control over me,'" said Meyrowitz, who noted the American Idol trend may only be a sign of what's to come.

"In one sense, it represents a co-option of popular culture," he said. "On the other hand, it represents an infiltration of the public saying, "We're not going to let you decide.'"

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


i think i love sanjaya malakar, if sanjaya was meant to be off the show he would have gotten voted of, but he was meant to be there and thats why he lasted so long and did good on american idol tour !


Sanjaya's voice is better than some who've gone before him in the so-called "teeny-boppers" category. This young sex symbol has enough charisma to cause young girls to cry as they spend buckets of money every time he smiles, winks or opens his mouth. He has a natural ability to cause a reaction - and a positive one as he sometimes surprises himself when he relaxes and lets the real Sanjaya go. I've seen managers teaching their male singers to "give them that 'little boy'look"...it's like money in the bank. Looks like Howard Stern's joke backfired...these little girls don't like Sanjaya, they love him.


Here's the real deal: Folks in the music industry have long known (even before Presley) the 'secret'that Sanjayha is using to gain popularity with young fans. This list of singers/songs reveals that secret. See if you can guess it. Presley/"Teddy Bear", Beatles/"well she was just 17...", Paul Anka/"Puppy Love", Sinatra/"The Girl Next Door", Sonny James/"Young Love", Ricky Nelson/"Travelin'Man", Dion/"Teenager in Love", Fabian/"I'm a Man", and so on. Even in the "20's" Al Jolson brought tears singing "I'd walk a million miles for one of your smiles...". Guessed it yet? Check it out. Young girls are not intimidated by sexual innuendos if they're sung to by the young, male singer w/those puppy dog eyes.


everyone should just stop voting, this isn't the way to find the next idol-stern makes me ill he is the most annoying person i ever watched and should be off tv and radio all together goes to show AMERICA allows almost everything and anyone; if they can get away with it they'll do it regardless of what people say.


Unfortunately, America doesnt realize how many Indians there are in this country. Thats why Sanjaya is still singing! Just stop in any 7-11 store and you'll see! They're everywhere.


hey Howie you made it so why not let somebody else make it. You are selfest and ugly in so many ways. What I don't undestand is why u hate kids so much as to hurt them in this way. You want to hurt the producers but it will only hurt their bank accounts and they will go on with something else. So now the kids do not have a chance of being heard. Don't give up on this show if you still want it, then fight for it by not leaving it and still vote for the best SINGER . howie is a sick dog he just likes to look at woman's breasts n whatever else a devildog does. no wonder his wife left him. howie is hurting Sanjaya and Sanjaya's family should not have let this go on this long, don't they care about him the way people are talking about him. It is sad. He is not going to win, as the field narrows down more people will be voting for the better singer. And where are the teeny boppers parents? All they are doing is letting them hurt Sanjaya. Parents explain it to them that in the long run he is being made a joke of and is being ridiculed. American Idol is for the best singer not the worst singer. It should not be a popularity contest either. Let NOT GIVE IN to howard stern and his cohorts.


What needs to be done is AI needs to sue Howard Stern to ensure that this kind of sabotage does not happen in the future. It is not funny and it is not cute. What it is doing is making a joke out of a human being that has FEELINGS and will eventually get his feelings hurt. What is happening with Sanjaya can destroy this kid's self confidence and self-esteem one of these days. Who wants to be a joke, while the publicity may be something he is enjoying at the present, it won't be for long.


I think Howard Stern should just be grateful that he has had the success he has had and butt out. How about if America boycotts his show, and no one listens to his BS anymore. What goes around comes around.


Sanjaya has been on long enough, Howard Stern-you need to quit, you are making a mockery out of American to have someone as bad as Sanjaya stay in the competition, he is competing to be one of the best in America and if all those voting for him, just proves you dont give a crap about who represents you a far as talent. He may be cute to little girls and even guys but this is not a beauty pageant, it is a talent competition-so it is time to get the ones out with the least talent and he definately fits there. He got further than he should, he's going on tour and will have a income which is more than he deserved. Just think Stephanie with all her talent was cheated out of that spot because of poor Sanjaya, well now she dont get to tour, she dont have that income, is that fair. Stern needs to GROW UP, just because he has so much money doesnt mean he should ruin someone elses chances of making some that they should have. Sanjaya-needs to go NEXT