Archive for March, 2009

Little girl crying over Sanjaya: Teen idol and bishonen phenomena

Monday, March 9th, 2009

First posted at Jersey Goddess, March 2007, but had to replace video. Posting here in preparation for the 2009 American Idol, that includes at least one Bishonen.

I know why the little girl cried.

little girl cries american idolOkay, so the little blonde girl, Ashley Ferl (Ashley’s story), cried for Melinda Doolittle too, which proves nothing. Melinda’s good. And at the end when they brought the girl up on stage, she cried over all the American Idol contestants; well, she’s young and stricken by stars, but did you see her the first time the cameras caught her as she cried over Sanjaya Malakar tonight (<--recap)? He performed "You Really Got Me Going" by British group The Kinks.

The girl appeared to be about 10 or 11 years old (I’ve since learned she’s 13). They asked her did she like Sanjaya. She shook her head to a definite “Yes!” (This would be a good time to read my article on child temperament. Some are more excitable than others.) The little blonde girl’s probably too young to vote for American Idol without her parents’ permission, but America has millions of teenage girls, I’m sure, who affect AI voting and who probably worship Sanjaya.

“I’ve been saying it. I’ve been saying it. Miguel, ain’t I been saying it?” (a quote from the movie Independence Day).
Yes, I’m going to quote myself on Sanjaya.

sanjayaWhat I’ve been saying is that American Idol contestant Sanjaya is bishonen. While he’s not necessarily extremely capable, a trait associated with the Japanese anime concept of bishonen, he is a beautiful boy, which is a required Bishonen trait.

And it’s not just Japanese girls that like bishonen/pretty boys. American girls have a thing for them too. My daughter tells me young girls come into her bookstore all the time to buy anime and manga about Bishonen males. When it comes to music, the bishonen appear in the form of male teen idols. When was the last time you saw a teen idol who wasn’t good-looking?

Many teen idols are pretty, and they aren’t necessarily the best singers or performers. Sanjaya is ripe for the teen idol worshiping crowd; he appeals to young girls, period.

I didn’t just say this tonight after I saw the little girl crying so desperately over him on AI. I also said it in my comments last week at the Elisa’s recap of AI at Blogher:

I think Sanjaya is still there because he looks like a teen idol. As young girls in Japan adore bishonen males, American teen girls like pretty boys, and since young girls have telephones attached to their earlobes, they vote for Sanjaya. That’s all conjecture on my part. (from last week’s comments at Idol Recap)

That little blonde girl crying tonight reminded me of young girls at concerts when their idols perform or descend to the tarmac from an arriving jet.

We’ve seen this madness with the young Elvis, and an even younger Michael Jackson as well as with his brothers as The Jackson Five; we’ve seen it with the Beatles back in the day, and Prince also (young Prince photo), who is still pretty, plus Fabian and Donny Osmond. We’ve even seen it with David Cassidy and also his brother Shaun Cassidy, remember them? We’ve seen it more recently with little girls screaming over boy bands like NSync.

bobby shermanAnd of course, Bobby Sherman was quite the pretty boy. I wasn’t into Bobby or the Cassidy boys much, but I had friends who were.

An article at talks about teen idols and male beauty:

1. Male beauty. Without these boys, we might have thought that the boys that we grew up beside in grade school & in the neighborhood were healthy & attractive kids. But once we’d seen the teen idols, with their straight white teeth, their symmetrical cheekbones and their blow-dried hair, we realized physical perfection is attainable & that we should treat any man who did not live up to those standards as if he were second-class goods. In order to deserve such beautiful men, of course, we would have to become their female equivalent. Thus, obsession with ideal standards of beauty led to self-examination and … well, girls, you know.

2. Obsession and the cult of celebrity. Once, we actually believed that after the TV was turned off, or the song stopped playing on the radio, it was OK to stop thinking about the actor or singer. We’d already rewarded him with our attention & the transaction had been successfully completed; we should have been able to get on with our lives. We didn’t know, until trained properly, that we were supposed to keep thinking about him, that we should purchase objects with his face printed on them, that we should want to read about him, learn about his personal life. Teen idols taught us proper merchandising and consumption and People-magazine-reading habits. (Ape Culture)

If you want to see real teen idol mania, look at the fans on this video of the Beatles singing “Twist and Shout.” (The OutKast music video “Hey Ya” spoofs this phenomena.)

The Beatles are an exception under the teen idol mania banner, as are Elvis, Michael Jackson, and Prince: they all later transcended teen idol status to become mega-adult stars for many years beyond their youth.

Sanjaya’s performance was much better tonight. He’s really trying to tap into the Bishonen trait of charisma, but I still don’t think he should win. Some speculate that a website called may be influencing votes and contributing to Sanjaya’s avoiding dismissal. Click this link for video at According to the video story, Howard Stern is among people encouraging people to vote for Sanjaya.


Also click here for CelebTV video of “Sanjaya’s Sob Story” and other clips of last night’s performances on American Idol (added March 21).

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Do You Really Think Rush Limbaugh Does Conservatives Good?

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

This post is not a dead New Jersey blog post resurrected. It was written today, 3/07/09, in response to a conservative who’s been rattled by comments at BlogHer on a post about whether Rush Limbaugh is the leader of the GOP. It ran pretty long, and I accidentally hit the publish button when I’d meant to hit the preview button after deciding I would probably not publish the full comment at BlogHer, but still needed to get a response off my chest. It’s posted here in case anyone wanted to see what I had to say. Otherwise, I’m moving on to critical life chores.

From BlogHer Comments

What I’m about to say has nothing to do with whether Rush Limbaugh uses hate speech, whether he’s a racist or a homophobe. What I’m talking about now is motivation, and while you may have more to say about economics, I have more to say about people, perceptions, and the end goal of a communications strategy:

In my opinion, Rush is doing a service by pounding on this theme. He is an entertainer…and he is an educator. Whether or not he’s “taken the bait” offered by the administration is immaterial in my mind. If by taking the bait, he is expanding his audience base…then I say good.

I don’t know if you recall when Bill Bennett made the highly inflammatory statement that the crime rates would go down if we’d abort black babies, but if you don’t recall it, you can google it. Anyway, I wrote a post back then that is now offline but in it I asserted that Bennett, who claimed he was trying to bring pro-life issues to the forefront, was no friend of the pro-life movement if he kept talking like that.

Why? Because his statement did not cause anyone to focus on pro-life issues. It boosted attention on him his radio show for a while, and offered the opportunity for well-known hate groups to have a field day about killing off black babies, but that was that.

And I wasn’t the only one who thought Bennett had done a disservice to the pro-life movement. Many people in the pro-life movement were dismayed that he’d derailed the conversation for a while. Whatever reasoning Bennett gave for making the statement got lost and as a result there are some moderate people on the fence who may have listened to Bennett despite his being conservative who now think he lacks credibility.

When Louis Farrakhan made his comment about Hitler being wickedly great, do you think that helped his cause? I could tell you what he really meant, but does it matter? Furthermore, a narrow focus on that one statement, no matter how brilliantly someone explained what he really meant by it, can be quickly expanded to broader vision by his many other statements that sound hateful because they are.

Ironically, if you remove some of Farakhan’s bigoted, inflammatory rhetoric, he’d sound like a fiscal conservative and one that Rush Limbaugh would agree with when it comes to a view that black people should stop relying on the Federal Government for financial help:

Farrakhan preaches the virtues of personal responsibility, especially for black men, and advocates black self-sufficiency. Farrakhan’s message has appealed primarily to urban blacks and draws on a long history of black nationalists who have called for black self-reliance in the face of economic injustice and white racism. (Encarta)

Despite white fears that most black people follow Farrakhan, they don’t. If they did, the crime rate would be lower, black business would probably be thriving, and black people would probably ignore white people until there was a war over land or water right or something.

Farrakan’ s not a “black” leader. He’s a Nation of Islam leader, a religious leader who makes social commentary, but since most black people are not members of the Nation of Islam, he doesn’t have the kind of influence white people think he does. BTW, Nation of Islam and traditional Islam are not the same.

One major difference between Farrakhan and Limbaugh is motivation, however. When Farrakhan makes inflammatory statements, generally he’s not trying to boost ratings on a radio show nor is he trying to influence government policy, however, like many religious leaders he sometimes comments about government.

So, you have Farrakan, a man preaching that black people should separate themselves from white people economically and be self-reliant, and yet you don’t see a bunch of whites, not even conservatives, applauding his work. I doubt you’ll see Jewish people applauding his work. And you have many black people who used to find him credible who have stepped away. While they agree with him about self-reliance and even on some of the points he makes about the sins of America against black people, they’ve stepped away from the Farrakhan. Why do you think that is?

In addition, you’ll rarely hear other people who’ve been identified as black leaders quote Farrakhan or give him props on national radio or TV. They aren’t as hard on him as whites and so don’t shun him completely, but they’re doing nothing to promote him. And certainly, if one of them said something about him similar to what Michael Steele said about Rush Limbaugh, the one who said it wouldn’t have to go apologize. Why do you think that is?

I’ll tell you why. One, Farrakhan doesn’t have that kind of power. Two, people who want genuine dialogue about race, the economy, how we can work things through, know that they sabotage that dialogue by clinging to people who make divisive statements repeatedly. In addition, unlike what I see in Rush Limbaugh discussions, people who genuinely want to work things through will allow historical facts on the table that give leeway for people to express pain and anger regarding oppression, bu that’s another topic.

It’s been my experience that people tend to lose respect when they see anyone sabotaging a worthwhile goal for personal gain. Rush Limbaugh consistently sabotages genuine discussion because he’s found that inflammatory language rather than productive discourse earns him more money. So, we see his true allegiance. And yet conservative whites jump up and defend him constantly. I’m not talking about a few fringe people who also read KKK websites or some of the angriest people who lack education and resources defending him; I’m talking about powerful mainstream people who hold public office and ordinary, otherwise sensible, white people.

So, my point on Rush Limbaugh is that by taking the bait, actively participating in what he knew was a strawman tactic that would throw the GOP into further disarray and a tactic that is also clearly a disctraction, Limbaugh is not doing the conservative movement a favor. It’s not about keeping eyes on what’s going on in D.C. It’s about him. You think he’s pounding issues that will move you forward, but actually he’s quite crafty, keeping all eyes on Rush.

Case in point, what has this blog post forum become but a discusion about Rush Limbaugh?

It’s theater, smoke and mirrors, and he is complicit:

People keep saying let’s get back on topic. Oooh, look what they’re really doing in Washington and Obama’s administration set Rush up. If the Obama administration had a gun at Rush Limbaugh’s feet, shooting bullets to make him dance, that would indeed be a case of power slamming Rush. The truth is Rush likes the spotlight and Rush wants to dance even if his dancing and his showmanship hurts the Republican Party.

We can argue for the next four years about whether Rush Limbaugh is the leader of the conservative movement or the GOP and Republicans can keep up the talking points that he’s not because he’s not technically been elected to anything. The reality is Rush is leader because millions of conservatives follow him, defend him, and apologize to him.

They don’t want to give him up. Limbaugh to the Republicans is like the hot, seductive mistress that appeals to a man’s baser instincts and is helping to wreck his family but the man keeps going back because he likes the sex.

If anyone has a complaint that Rahm Emanuel and Obama set up Limbaugh and that they did it to take the public eye off what they’re really doing in Washington, then they should also have a complaint that Limbaugh’s played along.

Consider how differently the Steele-Limbaugh exchange would have gone if Rush had never said “I want Obama to fail,” a statement he made after knowing the Whitehouse was setting him up as the strawman, and if he had never blasted Steele for the “ugly entertainment” comment by telling Steele bascially to go back to the kitchen.

We know Emanuel’s and the Dems’ motivation for targeting Rush, and their communications strategy was easy to implement. Rush’s ego is huge and so it’s all been like shooting fish in the barrel.

The plan keeps eyes off how things are going in D.C. and has conservatives jumping up and down like specks on the sideline of the Rush parade saying “But we want to talk issues, we want to talk money.”

Limbaugh is an exceptional communicator and strategist. He knows that’s what’s going on. Why is he playing along and why do you think that’s okay?

Score: Obama administration=1, Rush Limbaugh=1, Conservative Movement=0