March 20, 2007 06:23 AM by Joe Reality
Every year on American Idol there always seems to be one contestant who
takes the blame for every other contestant getting eliminated. During
American Idol 3, it was Jasmine Trias. During American Idol 4, it was
Scott Savol. During American Idol 5, it was Kevin Covais. This year,
it is Sanjaya Malakar.
Often the American Idol fall guy (or girl) doesn’t do anything to deserve the ire of viewers, other than survive in the competition while other popular contestants get eliminated. However, this year the show and the judges seem to be contributing to the animosity toward Sanjaya Malakar. For the last four weeks, American Idol host Ryan Seacrest has paired Sanjaya Malakar up on stage as the final one left with the last to be eliminated contestant. (Not that Ryan Seacrest should take the blame, because he is likely only following the script that producers have given him.)
First, Sanjaya Malakar was paired with Rudy Cardenas, then with AJ Tabaldo, then with Sundance Head, and most recently with Brandon Rogers. Such a pairing means that many of Rudy, AJ, Sundance and Brandon’s fans are likely going to blame Sanjaya for their favorite’s elimination and voice their anger on American Idol message boards. And it’s not that Sanjaya Malakar is getting paired up because he’s always the next lowest vote getter, because when Sanjaya went up against Rudy, Ryan Seacrest revealed that he was in the top four vote getters.
The judges also have contributed to the viewer anger at Sanjaya, whether indirectly or directly. After Sundance Head’s elimination, Paula Abdul said Sundance was one of their finest, but also went on to say “And it has no disrespect to Sanjaya, congratulations, or anyone here.” Of course, by reacting with such shock over Sundance’s elimination and by calling out only Sanjaya’s name, it was likely disrespect to Sanjaya. As one would expect, Simon Cowell has been a little more direct in targeting Sanjaya. According to Extra, when asked about Sanjaya Malakar winning American Idol, Simon Cowell said “Let me tell you this. He’s not going to win. I won’t be back if he does!” Whether that comment will actually hurt or help Sanjaya though is up for debate, because Cowell made no secret of his dislike of Taylor Hicks, and it didn’t stop him from winning.
An added bonus for the American Idol fall guy (or girl) is that they often become the subject of various conspiracies to account for their continuation in the competition. With Jasmine Trias, it was Hawaiian voters dominating the phone lines. With Scott Savol, it was Vote for the Worst. With Kevin Covais, it was Vote for the Worst again. With Sanjaya Malakar, it is Vote for the Worst, Howard Stern, teen girls infatuated with his hair, and apparently Indian call centers.
Is the fact that producers seem to be highlighting Sanjaya’s continued survival in the competition by always pairing him up with a soon to be eliminated contestant fair? Is this stacking the deck against Sanjaya? Or could it actually be helping Sanjaya? By seeing him in the bottom two on stage week after week, some viewers could be building up sympathy for Sanjaya. Post your opinion of if it is fair for American Idol producers to keep drawing attention to Sanjaya Malkar in the elimination shows.