The Faithful Hound

Friday, January 19, 2007

Rally the troops!

I realize that I sometimes come across on this blog as a crotchety old bastard who steers clear of popular culture and television, but I do have one large weak spot in that department - American Idol.
The show completely fascinates me. Not so much the later, music focused rounds, but more so the initial weeding out segments that seem to draw out America's neurotic, psychotic, delusional and (I have to say) endearing fringe from under their rocks and into the glaring spotlight of public scrutiny and humiliation. For a few minutes they drop their inhibitions and parade their flaws for our amusement, while we mock them and crush their dreams before relegating them back into the shadows. I watch these early episodes with a mixture of amusement, embarrassment and pity. Sure it's entertaining, but should I really be laughing as a pompous British millionaire ridicules a clearly mentally challenged child for "looking like a bush baby"?
So it was a couple of days ago that I settled into my couch, dinner plate in hand, to watch the Idol juggernaut roll into what the host, Ryan Seacrest, called "the talent vacuum that is Seattle." The usual gang of misfits were present; the wannabes, the posers and the dead-enders. And then I saw them...
Shyamali and Sanjaya Malakar, siblings of Indian origin and offspring of a classically trained Indian musician. Waif like, vulnerable and completely adorable, they shyly introduced themselves to the camera while their proud parents watched from the sidelines.

I cringed as they walked into the audition room, feeling that familiar empathetic nervousness I undergo when a fellow desi walks into the spotlight. Indians, as a people, are awkward on the public stage and only one of our countrymen has ever really made it on national television - Appu, of The Simpsons fame.
But the Malakars had moxie, and more importantly they could sing! Both have mellow, bluesy voices and share an unassuming, almost timid, self confidence on the stage. They were both liked by the judges and were selected to move on to the next round.

So here's my plea. A couple of years ago a talentless Hawaiian girl, Jasmine Trias, stumbled into the final rounds of American idol on questionable merit, but was buoyed from one level to the next based on the sheer volume of call-in votes from the Hawaiian community who wanted to see a fellow islander do well.
It's time that we desis got our act together and rallied around our own. Rumour has it that at least one of the siblings has already made it through this pre-recorded contest and is in the final group that depends on audience votes to move on. If that is true then its time that we dropped our disdain for our Bharatiya brethren (and sistren) and jammed those phone lines with our votes.
How large is our diaspora in this country now? At least a couple of million? If even a few hundred thousand of us phone in repeatedly we could generate enough traffic to create our Indian-American Idol. Now wouldn't that be something?


  • At 7:00 PM, Blogger km said…

    I hope you know what you are doing. Soon there's gonna be forwarded emails and online petitions pouring in....all starting and ending with "Jai Hind" :))

    That said, the AI elimination rounds are pure magic. I can't get enough of it. (Too bad the rest of the show turns into utter...ok, I think my bastardy old crotchet is showing)

  • At 12:32 PM, Blogger MockTurtle said…

    You said it. Those initial rounds are a great forum for societal observation.
    Celebrity culture, the instant gratification generation, gen-X delusionals butting heads with a baby boomer pragmatist - It's all there for your viewing pleasure.
    Hope the rot doesn't spread into India during my lifetime.
    Jai Hind!

  • At 3:08 PM, Blogger Revealed said…

    Hehehe! I'm working on a petition right now. It'll be delivered at your doorstep before the week is out :P.

    I find AI fascinating too, but I'm proud (or should I be embarrassed) to say that I'm uniformly fascinated by all of it, and not just the cringey bits in the beginning (which actually make me quite uncomfortable, yeah I'm a closet prig, I suspect).

  • At 11:47 PM, Blogger Szerelem said…

    Wow, they really are good aren't they??
    I don't really watch AI....have you seen Indian Idol though??

  • At 9:06 AM, Blogger MockTurtle said…

    @revealed: Way to go!
    Nothing to be embarrassed about. Truth be told, I actually enjoy the later rounds too. But for sheer voyeuristic thrills the weeding out section rules.

    @szerlem: They certainly are, and I'm rooting hard for them.
    Never seen Indian Idol (Didn't know it existed). Any good?

  • At 7:52 AM, Blogger Szerelem said…

    You didnt know Indian Idol existed????
    havent seen much of it....not bad...they do have some really talented people on...

  • At 2:12 PM, Blogger MockTurtle said…

    @szerelem: Well thanks for the pointer. I just checked out their website, they seem to have a good thing going on.

  • At 4:57 PM, Blogger Revealed said…

    Never seen Indian Idol. Can it possibly be as gripping as AI? Is there another country which can trump this one for sheer weirdness?

  • At 3:08 PM, Blogger ggop said…

    Looks like people responded to your call! Check out the post on Sepiamutiny on the Hunger strike video (protest_ against Sanjaya getting ahead even though he does not deserve it.


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