Sanjaya Malakar by Frank Micelotta/Fox
One of the weirdest TV weeks ever continued Wednesday as reality TV continued to get it right, with
finally kicking the ridiculously out-of-his-depth Sanjaya Malakar to the curb. But does this leave Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell something - anything - to talk or argue about?
Meanwhile, in the actual real world, the horrific saga of the Virginia Tech shootings took yet another surreal turn when NBC revealed and analyzed on air the existence of a disturbing package of video, text and photos sent by the shooter on the day of the killings. Unimaginably, he went to the post office between sprees to mail his deranged manifesto to the media in a final bid for media immortality. (I have decided not to name the shooter here, in a personal bid to deny him, at least in this space, that publicity.) This package of angry rants and deadly poses, resembling a nightmare vision out of
, is without question legitimate news, and its contents will be devoured on air and online for a long time to come as we all try to make sense of it and perhaps even learn from it. And yet I can't help looking forward to the day when the media will cease broadcasting these clips and photos in what seems an endless reel of free (if posthumous) publicity for this pathetic young man's tragic actions.
In this facebook era of instant online gratification and indulgence, where everyone can feel like a star on the Internet - at least in their own little corner of the electronic world - the shooter played the old-fashioned media like a champ. He gave them a bloody awful show, then fed the beast with a breathtakingly bizarre "gift" from beyond the grave. In a perfect world, wouldn't it have been nice to have just marked it "return to sender" and let it rot?
Shifting gears back to "reality" TV, Sanjaya's
ouster was unquestionably the biggest news in this blockbuster genre all season. The kid, so charming in auditions, was lost on the big stage from the start, and that was clear the moment the actual competition began. To keep him around until the "magnificent seven" round (Ryan's words) was just perverse. Maybe it's a function of the fact that this week we all grew up a little, but when Simon bluntly declared on Tuesday that this novelty act had lost its power to amuse, Sanjaya was toast. But I will give Sanjaya props for losing with class, and twisting the words of his farewell song to mock the nation's obsession with his malleable mop of hair. (Other
thoughts: What a shock to see Blake in the bottom three. Melinda is my hero for refusing to play the producers' game and pick sides. We all know she's the top, but Jordin isn't far behind. If there's justice, that will be quite a final two to pick from.)
Oddly, all of this week's ejections in the major reality shows were satisfying. If Sanjaya was the worst singer on
, Clyde Drexler was the most egregiously laissez-faire nondancer on
Dancing with the Stars
this season, and after Carrie Ann Inaba described him as "the worst" in no uncertain terms, America seemed to finally listen. And on the CW's popular guilty pleasure
America's Next Top Model
, the absurd Jael (who could teach Chris Richardson a thing or two about being nasal) was finally shown the door, though this time it meant flying home all the way from Australia. In modeling, I'm willing to concede that there's room for the unconventional, but the unconscionably annoying? Twiggy was right: Jael would be laughed out of any professional agency.
All of this makes me curious to see if
can keep this week's streak going by booting off the right player. One problem: I can't say I care who stays or goes during this boring season. Moving the show to China (not a tropical island!) in the fall may be just what the franchise needs to wake it (and us) up again.