Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sanjaya: I'm not really going to pretend to be completely surprised by this ...

(Article originally posted to my Yahoo 360 blog Wednesday April 11, 2007 - 11:28am (CDT))

I'm not going to comment on the merits of Sanjaya's performance on "American Idol", because I don't watch the show, but I couldn't help notice a curious disconnect between what I was seeing on ... I think it was Fox news, but definitely a traditional medium news broadcast ... and what I'm seeing on the Internet news.

Photo of Sanjaya Malakar; image links to coverage of contestant's success on Yahoo video On the traditional medium news station, I find myself watching a story about how those responsible for putting out the show are thinking of suing somebody who has been urging people to vote for a contestant named "Sanjaya", who is supposedly notoriously untalented, in the hope of making a laughingstock out of the show. A representative from the show is on the news talking about such an attempt should not be tolerated, that it is damaging a valuable commercial property (the show) and then there is an argument about how far the first amendment goes in protecting one's right to do what somebody was doing as a joke. At which point, I zone out and wander off to do other things.

Some days pass, I go to log into my Yahoo! account, and come across this bit of new media journalism from Yahoo! TV

in which I now hear about how Sanjaya is HOT! HOT! HOT! and I find myself wondering - did the people who put together the webcast not hear about the earlier broadcast? If somebody is manipulating the poll results by getting those not otherwise interested to try to tilt the vote for the purposes of mockery, then the thoroughly scorned beneficiary of their efforts may be LUCKY! LUCKY! LUCKY! but he is not HOT! HOT! HOT!

I'd like to say that I'm amazed by this, but then I'm not really unfamiliar with the phenomenon of willful blindness, especially in an online context. I've certainly written about it enough, and if looking to read the post that somebody posted a misleading followup to is too much work for the average netizen, I suppose that getting up to turn the TV set on would be even more work, especially if one didn't have the foresight to put one's remote next to the monitor or if one has carelessly put that case of cheetos on top of it. No, I guess that I can't really be disheartened by such an episode in any way in which I haven't already been disheartened, especially when the stakes are as low for society as a whole as they are this time. Western civilization survived Tiny Tim, and I'm sure that it will survive any short lived phenomenon this show produces, as well, and somewhere in this is a halfway decent satirical moment to be placed in a movie someday, after this current era is dead, buried but I hope, not forgotten. I'm sure we remember that quote from Santayana, and as mildly amusing as an incident as this is, widespread idiocy is not always so benign.

I would like to think that people will be getting brighter after this, but then I don't exactly have a lengthy history of getting what I want, do I? Still, one can hope.