Dear Mr. Sanjaya Malakar,
Oftentimes people write letters to vent their frustrations with the letter’s recipient; this is not the case here. I’m not writing to tell you to amend your ways but rather to keep doing what you’re doing, because it’s winning the hearts and minds of our great nation's inhabitants.
A popularity contest is not something won on merit alone, and a popularity contest is all American Idol is. This is not about who is the best or most affluent singer--it’s about who we happen to like best at a specific moment in time. And you, my perpetual hair-alternating friend, are just that. You are an inspiring, Zen individual who is consistently being burned and told you’re not good enough week in and week out by elitist judges. But guess what, you keep coming back to prove the dream-killers wrong, simply by being yourself.
You see, Sanjaya, we live in divisive, backward and upside down times. America is undergoing a disillusionment period with an unwelcome war pushed on us for unfathomable reasons. Plus, how did it become the case that Democrats are the party with all the grassroots money? Backward indeed, but no need to concern yourself with such things; you’re Sanjaya.
April 3rd’s episode of American Idol was the first episode I’ve ever watched. It’s because for the last couple weeks, all I’ve been hearing about on random shows is how this Sanjaya character is causing controversy on Idol by not being voted off. I asked myself, What could be so controversial about pursuing a dream and having people like you for it? I personally think the talk show hosts just like saying your name, really.
In catching up with you on YouTube, the truth is more than evident--no, you’re not the best singer on the show … so what? You're only 17, and perhaps your voice is not ready to sing every type of song under the sun. Still, some of your performances are better than others. (“Steppin Out With My Baby,” good; “You Really Got Me,” not so good.)
I notice you tend to begin your songs sloppily, maybe due to some jitters, but you harness them halfway through and finish strongly. The important thing is that you possess, right now, every affable quality a star needs, in a great smile, profound warmth, resounding humility, easiness and yet, a solid backbone.
Much of the controversy the dream-crashing naysayers spout is how you winning the contest would be unfair to the “more talented” contenders. You don’t have to worry about that. Your impending victory will not hinder LaKisha Jones’ or Melinda Doolittle’s career opportunities. They already have the exposure they need at this point to continue their endeavors, and if these last six years have taught us anything, the title is irrelevant to commercial success.
Season six of American Idol can be historic. Americans are ready to feel good about America again, to know this is still the bastion of opportunity and that this is still the place where dreams come true. You can do this, Sanjaya, by continuing to be your enjoying-the-ride self. But the possible miracle will not be swayed by Simon, Paula or Randy; the miracle is in the hands of the people.
I know I will be casting my first-ever votes next week for what I once thought an irrelevant zeitgeist, and I’m voting for you because you’ve inspired me to do so. I know there are some out there who wish to vote for you for less noble reasons, but their motives are just as skewed as the judges you face. I will get as many people as I can behind you so we can bring the title, signed, sealed and delivered to you. Sanjaya, you truly are an American Idol.
God bless you. And God bless America.