Bil Browning

The stove is hot. Ouch. The stove is hot. Ouch. The stove...

Filed By Bil Browning | April 17, 2007 3:13 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Entertainment, The Movement, The Movement
Tags: American Idol, gender, homophobic behavior, Sanjaya Malakar, sexism, television, transphobia, videos

070320_sanjaya_vmed_2p.widec.jpgI know I've brought this up before, but this story is irritating me too. While everyone is busy making fun of American Idol contestant Sanjaya Malakar for his singing talents (or lack thereof), one of the put-downs that often comes up is that he's rather fey.

Now, no one actually comes out and calls him a queer. Instead, they try to find other ways around it by questioning the masculinity of the 17 year old kid. While first it was the transgender morphing of past winner Kelly Clarkson Katherine McPhee and Sanjaya, today, Maxim magazine has featured the young singer as "Today's Girl." Why is it still acceptable in today's society to demean someone by calling them a girl?

Being female isn't a bad thing. I've never understood it when gay men use something along the lines of "You big girl!" as a putdown. "You big nelly fag" seemed a much more apt description for those of us a little light in the loafers - same purpose and cattiness but without the sexist connotation.

While Sanjaya's mannerisms aren't what I'd call "butch," that doesn't make him unattractive or less able to sing. (Note that a lot of his supporters are young girls who find him dreamy. I think he's rather hot too.) Call me an old grouch if you want, but, damn, can we not judge him for his singing abilities? No one's bringing his race into the discussion as a negative. Can we skip over his sexuality too? His gender? Whether he's left or right-handed?

Because I kind of like his singing. Do I think he's the best? No. That's Melinda Doolittle. But the kid can perform, he's entertaining and most of all, he has a backbone made of steel. Could you stand up to all of this negativity from most of the country and not have crawled back in bed? After all, even Dick Cheney retreats to an "undisclosed location" from time to time to get a respite from the constant attacks.

Check out Sanjaya's latest American Idol performance after the jump. It was, by far, his best to date - even grumpy old Simon liked it. Plus, as an extra bonus, it's not even in English. What would Jesus say?

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So "big nelly fag" is the non-sexist version of "big girl"?

I want to live in Bil Browning Land! :)

"Call me an old grouch if you want, but, damn, can we not judge him for his singing abilities?"

If I had my way, absolutely not. I don't see why someone being a good singer should automatically lead to a record deal. What about song-writing? What about having some inspiration? What about bringing something new and creative to the field of music?

Whatever. It's American Idol, so what am I complaining about.

I keep telling Jerame he should buy me my own island somewhere tropical and warm, but so far he's resisted the idea.

I'll agree that songwriting is a benefit, but it's not necessary. American Idol isn't about songwriting, it's about singing. And inspiration is still required for singing... Several of our best vocalists haven't written their own music. Should we lose Elton John for using a partner all these years? Or *gasp* Judy Garland?

As for bringing something new to the field of music, very few people have done that. Very few. I'd love to see more innovation too, but that's not how the world works. Most genres of music from time eternal would have lost some of the best composers/performers for simply being too similar to other work.

Don't be an American Idol snob. *pouts* Enjoy the singing (or cringe a few times when appropriate!) and the entertainment. I always appreciate how hard it has to be to put all the work into it those contestants do each week. That's a lot of effort only to be judged and possibly degraded by the country.

And you have to agree, Sanjaya has held up extremely well to the rude and negative attitudes he's received from America. Lesser men have crumbled under smaller pressure...

I'm not saying that song-writing should be required to be a recording artist. I'm just saying that singing isn't the only thing to look at. I mean, I'm not saying that the winners of AI have been terrible. I just don't listen to Kelly Clarkson, etc., b/c their music has been pretty bland and lame. So like what I'm saying is that the methodology that AI uses to choose someone that we are supposed to like for some reason always produces singers that are kinda boring. (Maybe because when you don't want to offend anyone's tastes you can't make anything that is a little bit scary, and therefore innovative?) And, well, when the majority of judges are going through puberty, is it any wonder?

So, yeah, I agree about the political/cultural aspect of what's happening to Sanjaya, but I don't think that it makes me a music snob to say that they same sort of post-industrial rush to normalization and mass production of the exact same thing over and over again that is clearly at work in AI is responsible for both the poor quality of music and the marginalization of difference, including gender difference.

And it's also just incorrect to say that there isn't any creative music right now. I've been putting up a song each week just from queer artists that at least have some sort of inspiration, including a song from the Rocket Man. Like just think if the AI model of business took over the music industry (when I listen to the radio it feels like it has). We'd have no Elton John b/c he would have been too weird for the 70's. We'd have no Elvis, or the Led Zeppelin, or Cher, or Madonna, or most of the other mainstream successes that we've seen in the past several decades b/c they don't all sing in that one silly style.

Oh, wait, that does sound like I'm a snob. Oh, well.

I totally agree with Bil, except that I really do believe that Sanjaya would make a beautiful MTF. I wonder if he knows what transgender even means.

Tony Kariotis | April 17, 2007 9:58 PM

...just a quick correction. The morphed picture of Sanjaya is on former Idol Runner-Up, Katherine McPhee's album cover, not Kelly Clarkson.

Look for Kelly Clarkson's new album "My December" this summer '07! (sorry, I'm a huge Kelly fan too).

Fixed, Tony. Thanks for pointing that out. :)

Serena, I think he's beautiful now. A little young, but very pretty in that fresh-faced sort of way. Still, I agree he'd make a stunning MTF.

And after watching last night's show, I just want to be on record: Sanjaya sucked. He really blew it last night. :(

Ha! The Google ad at the bottom of your page reads:

Is Clay Aiken Gay?
Are You Gay? Take the Free Quiz!

Anyhoo, my local TV station did a "man on the street" interview at a local tourist attraction. They asked, "Who is your favorite American Idol contestant?"

EVERY little girl replied, "SANJAYA!"

Face it, he's the typical TEEN idol. He has big, dreamy eyes, long hair, a great smile, and he's not threatening. He's just like every teen idol that's been on the cover of Tiger Beat for the last 25 years.

Most of the teen idols who have been marketed to tween girls have had marginal talent. THEY DON'T CARE. They just want to stare at him.

Regardless of how far he goes on Idol, Sanjaya has it made. He'll be around for a few years -- until he starts to look to masculine. Then, he'll laugh all the way to the bank.

I think they should have a separate Teen Idol show -- 13 to 18. They could run it on Saturday mornings. It would be a huge hit.

Terabanitoss | May 6, 2007 7:05 AM

You are The Best!!!