04/04/2007 03:22 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

American Idol , Sanjaya Malakar, and the Postmodern Condition

All kidding aside, I happen to believe that Sanjaya Malakar will go down in TV history as the single most important personality ever to emerge from the American Idol phenomenon. Not because he's funny, not because he's cute, and not because he can't sing. Sanjaya will be remembered not for who he is, but for what he represents - the inevitable subversion of an increasingly destructive institution in the pop culture landscape.

American Idol isn't "jumping the shark" this season, it is being hurled over the shark by the growing number of people who have stood by idly as the Idol sensation has doggedly dominated the American consciousness going on 5 years now, during an increasingly dire time in this nation's history. With wars and terrorists and global warming and political corruption and disease and starvation and suffering, who wouldn't want to turn their attention towards a big, shiny, sugar-dipped karaoke competition night after night? Right now, two people who weren't even Idol finalists managed to get their homogenized pop-rock albums into the Billboard Top 5.

But at what point does all that sugar make us sick? As the tides of change are once again creeping up on us - politically, culturally and otherwise - so it is time to socially evolve past this celebration of superficiality, and Sanjaya is the comet that will crash into the Idol juggernaut, inflicting irreparable damage that will signify the beginning of the end for what has seemed like an indestructible TV dynasty.

Anyone who pays even passing attention to the media will undoubtedly have noticed the sudden ubiquity of "Vote Sanjaya" proclamations among celebrities, journalists, TV shows and anyone else even tangentially related to popular culture (including us). The Sanjaya movement has gone all the way from the Vote For the Worst underground to the point at which you're not cool unless you go on the record gushing about your support of Sanjaya (hell, even Zach Braff is doing it, which, as we all know, is the international symbol for something that was once "indie" going mainstream). Sanjaya is the ironic t-shirt of American Idol (yes, the Sanjaya ironic shirt already exists), and Faux Sanjaya Love is actually overtaking the popularity of the competition itself.

We don't sincerely LOVE Sanjaya (with the exception of sobbing tween girls), we sincerely HATE Idol, and thus want to see it fail. Sanjaya winning the competition - an unlikely scenario that inches closer and closer towards probability by the minute - would be the arrow through Idol's Achilles Heel, destroying the legitimacy and relevance of the competition - the lynchpins on which the whole show is held together - by exploiting its democratic nature to expose it's inherent fraudulence. If Sanjaya can win (even though he doesn't deserve to), just because a bunch of people who don't sincerely care about the outcome of the competition think it would be funny if he did, why should anyone bother caring about who else has won, or will win in the future?

Now, I'm not saying that Sanjaya winning this year will bring about an immediate end to the Idol frenzy, and I'm not saying he's the sole reason the Titanic TV ratings are going to start sinking. The show has been poised to fail for a long time now, and Sanjaya just happened to be the beautiful Indian iceberg that will break the hull and set into motion the slow, gradual process of fading into complete irrelevancy and eventual cancellation. But make no mistake, the show still has some pretty die-hard fans.

Sanjaya isn't special. In fact, William Hung could have accomplished the same thing three years ago if he'd had the good looks and marginal talent necessary to sneak into the top 12. Sanjaya is a symbol - a living indication of American Idol's depthlessness, and a unifying hero behind whom all of us who have quietly hated this whole phenomenon will continue to rally.

So, what I'm saying is, Vote Sanjaya!

Originally posted at