Sanjaya will return to Idol, but the media continues to cover him like he’s on the show

One year ago this Friday, Sanjaya Malakar made a girl cry, officially making him part of the show’s history. Soon, he’ll return to the series, but in the meantime, the media is still obsessed over him, perhaps because he’s more interesting than gay strip club strippers.

In fact, the media’s continuing infatuation with him is almost unbelievable. It’s extremely disproportionate to what he’s actually doing now (not much) and actual interest in him (is he really still the most amusing thing about the series?). References to Sanjaya are one thing, but full-blown stories are another, and there are plenty of both.

Sanjaya gets third-paragraph play and a photo in the New York Times’ sloppy kiss to Vote for the Worst today, and a mention in the lead of E! Online’s story about the VFW, which similarly salivates over the site while glossing over that its first choice, Danny Noriega, went home almost immediately. Both stories seem more interested in Sanjaya than current contestants.

Elsewhere, Newsday covered his performance at a bat mitzvah; Billboard included him in a “where are they now story,” even though his only real news is a move to Los Angeles; and a story being reproduced on local TV news stations’ web sites says, ‘Idol’ Fans Ask, ‘Where’s Sanjaya?’ I know local news is crap and ratings-whoring nonsense, but this is too going too far. Seriously, who the hell is asking that? There’s no evidence in the story, just some thin suppositions (“even those who dislike his voice want him to keep singing”).

Meanwhile, MTV seems to be desperate to find new angles to the Sanjaya story. Here are the Sanjaya-related headlines it published on just two days last week, March 10 and 12: ‘American Idol’ Alum Sanjaya Malakar Reaches Out To Stevie Wonder, Calls Danny Noriega ‘Unique’, ‘American Idol’ Standout Sanjaya Malakar Was Surprised By The Focus On His Hair, and Sanjaya And I Aren’t Related, OK?. The most recent of those stories is 836 words about his post-show fame, getting his hair cut, and how Sanjaya wishes he was on this season instead of last–because of the instruments and Beatles songs, as if either would have helped his damn singing.

And then there’s this scintillating quotation: “I remember I watched the top-24 show, and it’s really trippy, because I was on that same exact stage. I know what it looks like when they walked offstage, I know what the little setup of makeup chairs behind the stage looked like, and it was weird seeing it from that perspective — of being there, and then watching it on TV,” Sanjaya said. Breaking news! He remembers what it was like being on the country’s most popular television show!

There is some actual news buried in the story, though: Sanjaya will re-grace the show with his presence “in a few weeks, where he’ll sit in the audience and even offer commentary on the performers,” according to MTV News. Clearly, the world cannot wait.

Voting for the Worst on ‘American Idol’ Makes Money for an Entrepreneur [New York Times]
Is Amanda Overmyer Idol’s “Worst”? [E! Online]
Former ‘Idol’ contestant Sanjaya performs at Woodbury bat mitzvah [Newsday]
Catching Up With Past “American Idol” Finalists [Billboard]
‘Idol’ Fans Ask, ‘Where’s Sanjaya?’ [NBC 4]
‘American Idol’ Alum Sanjaya Malakar Reaches Out To Stevie Wonder, Calls Danny Noriega ‘Unique’, ‘American Idol’ Standout Sanjaya Malakar Was Surprised By The Focus On His Hair, and Sanjaya And I Aren’t Related, OK? [MTV News]
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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 37, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.