Karaoke reinforces the democratic idea that anyone can, if s/he wants to, but also that everyone wants to, if s/he can.
The idea of karaoke basically derives from old fairground mock-up photographs. An anonymous person sticks his/her head into the opening in a photograph and then, for a few pennies, buys the joy provided by a picture in the company of a famous person, wearing the costume of a historical figure or being in famous scenery.
What is the basis of the attraction of karaoke? Presumably, what makes it so attractive is its simplicity and stupidity as well as the ambiguity of its participants’ situation: by singing someone else’s song the amateur honours the original Sinatra or Madonna while, at the same time, debunking its musical authority through his/her amateur rendition, which makes the original appear ridiculous. The theft of the star aura or, in other words, the overthrowing of hierarchy, never goes beyond harmless entertainment. The performer is anonymous.
Karaoke is the entertainment of anonymous people, whereby the guise of anonymity enables them to fulfil their secret desires within existing codes (of technology, genre etc). People practising karaoke are anything but revolutionaries, innovators or people who will change the world.
Karaoke culture is based on the idea of exorcising the anonymous ego by means of a game of simulation. It is as if people were more interested in escaping from themselves than in trying to understand their own authentic I. I has become boring. It is more interesting to transform oneself into someone else than to rummage in one’s own soul. The culture of narcissism has undergone a mutation, creating the culture of karaoke.