To be honest, I love Sanjaya the first time I saw him at the American Idol audition. I loved him even more when he showed his love for his sister as soon as he knew his sister didn't made it to the next round at Hollywood audition.
If you read the forum at the American Idol website, you knew he was the most popular guy until Antonella Barba case was exposed. Barba didn't lasted long in the show but Sanjaya fame continues to rise not because of his talent but his personality and hairdo.
The rating of the show continues to fall but I don't think anyone should blame Sanjaya. The show is bland: Melinda Doolittle and Lakisha Jones are flawless even Simon didn't know what to comment anymore, Ryan Seacrest and Simon and their homophobic jokes, Randy Jackson and his same ol' "It was a little bit too pitchy for me" comment and Paula, I don't even want to talk about her.
The American Idol show is now depending on Sanjaya for publicity. I don't watch the show as regularly as I did before. I just tune in because I want to see if he performs really bad that week and I don't want to miss the moment if he's voted off. But hey, there are other contestants like Phil Stacey and Haley Scarnato who are far worse than Sanjaya who should be voted off first but they continue to stay on.
Going into my main point, people like Gina Glocksen, Chris Sligh and my favourite Stephanie Edwards are the victims of the voting system. I have long disagree with this so-called democratic approach to find a talented singer. We didn't make a mistake the first time when we decided that Jaclyn Victor is the well-deserved winner of Malaysian Idol. But look at what happened to Malaysian Idol in season 2.
Another significant weakness of the voting system was shown in Akademi Fantasia. Mawi is not my favourite contestant in AF3 but this man deserves to win because he's really popular. But what happened to other contestants in the same batch with him? The huge gap between Mawi and his fellow friends was very demotivating because you know you did your best and received applause from judges but you will never be able to match the popularity of Mawi even though he made mistakes like forgetting lyrics, sang out of tune or received bad reviews from the judges.
Once I heard that some contestants from Blast Off spent thousands of ringgit to ensure they will go far in the competition. Another contestant in Astro Talent Quest not only won the competition through the voting system but also represented Malaysia in a TVB8 singing contest and won the most sms votes despite his lack of popularity and losing in the singing contest judged by Hong Kong celebrities.
To me the voting system is a total rip off of viewers money because for each vote, you are paying like 50 sen or 65 sen. And now Akademi Fantasia is introducing Afundi Sakan whereby viewers can place 3 or 5 votes with each call. What is so democratic about the system?
The moral of the story: the voting system in reality shows is the symbol of the democratic world we live in. Look at the suffering world around us. The influential and rich will always win or have better advantage than those who doesn't. But since we accepted the system, we made decisions on who becoming our leaders (whether you vote them or not) and hence we will have to bear the consequences of our own action.