Sanjaya was at it again on American Idol last night. As it was an episode devoted to "Tony Bennett-era" songs last night, I half-expected him to recap his previous version of "Steppin' Out with My Baby" that he butchered a few weeks ago. Gone last night were some of the theatrics that at least made his train-wreck interesting: no pony mohawk; no effeminate curls; no ear to ear smile. No, last night Sanjaya tried to pull off suave coolness. He sang Irving Berlin's "Cheek to Cheek" and cheekily tried to make America believe that he has any talent/deserves to be in the competition. The little dance he did with Paula had none of the debonnaire charm one would hope for from a man dressed in a white suit and a black shirt. His mustache, which he probably thought looked like Clark Gable, was far more evocative of Michael Jackson's mustachioed phase than he might have realized. Indeed, Sanjaya reminds me of Michael Jackson, not vocally mind you.
The judges, evidently thuderstruck by the American indifference to rote vocal mediocrity, tried a counter-offensive. Randy said something like (well, let me skip all the Yo, yo, yos, and what up dogs), "I don't know that I should even comment on the vocals anymore." Paula told him he was charming, and thanked him for the dance. Simon, frustrated, said "You know what, um, incredible." And it was then that Sanjaya uttered the words that first had me laughing for a solid minute, and later made me start to think about the constant "you're special" or "you're a princess" reinforcement that we force feed our kids. Sanjaya had the audacity to say, and to him it wouldn't have seemed so, "Welcome to the Universe of Sanjaya."
The kid didn't say "world". He didn't say "movement", or even "train." He said "Universe". And by putting "of Sanjaya" he made the possessive feeling of the words even stronger than if he had said "Sanjaya's Universe." The latter means that he is a part of it, the former means that he is the owner, the center, the raison d'etre of all of us. Like some entity ripped from the pages of Mark Twain's "The Mysterious Stranger"; like the narrator in Jorge Luis Borges's "The Circular Ruins"; hell, even, like Veruca Salt in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sanjaya thinks that the world exists for his pleasure. Well, he may not realize that he thinks this; let me explain.
Sanjaya is talented. He is likeable. He is handsome. I'm sure that he is intelligent. He is also probably deluded. I see three possible scenarios:
1) He knows that he is terrible and doesn't care.
2) He knows that he is terrible, wants to go home, but America keeps voting for him.
3) He actually thinks that he is a great singer, better than the others, and that he deserves to win.
Until last night I would've bet that he felt one of the first two ways. However, after his comment to Simon, I feel inclined to believe that he is firmly in the grip of the third option. All those years of mommy and daddy telling him that he is special and unique (as parents feel they must--myself included) evidently sank in. Sanjaya has his own universe. We are all constructs of this intelligence, this being, this entity that controls our every action, thought, deed, or whim. He controls my will as I type these words. I have no choice but to do so, for I exist only as a vehicle for Sanjaya to glory in himself. Yet, I wonder, have I gone too far? Will there be consequences for revealing his secret? Is Abraxas, I mean Sanjaya, going to remove his divine spark from me, and reconfigure my atoms into other constructs? I certainly hope not, that would be a total bumme.... (post abruptly terminated)