Susan Boyle

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aka Mycroft
Susan Boyle

I hate to go along with the crowd but this video of Susan Boyle on "Britain's Got Talent" has to be one of the most incredible things I've seen.Not only because it's the classic story of an ordinairy unassuming person doing something absolutely remarkable but because that triumph came on the heels of naked hostility and scorn shown to her by the audience prior to her performance.

This piece by Tanya Gold in the Guardian is the best feminist analysis I've seen of the phenom.

Quote:
Is Susan Boyle ugly? Or are we? On Saturday night she stood on the stage in Britain's Got Talent; small and rather chubby, with a squashed face, unruly teeth and unkempt hair. She wore a gold lace dress, which made her look like a piece of pork sitting on a doily. Interviewed by Ant and Dec beforehand, she told them that she is unemployed, single, lives with a cat called Pebbles and has never been kissed. Susan then walked out to chatter, giggling, and a long and unpleasant wolf whistle.

Why are we so shocked when "ugly" women can do things, rather than sitting at home weeping and wishing they were somebody else? Men are allowed to be ugly and talented. Alan Sugar looks like a burst bag of flour. Gordon Ramsay has a dried-up riverbed for a face. Justin Lee Collins looks like Cousin It from The Addams Family. Graham Norton is a baboon in mascara. I could go on. But a woman has to have the bright, empty beauty of a toy - or get off the screen. We don't want to look at you. Except on the news, where you can weep because some awful personal tragedy has befallen you.

Simon Cowell, now buffed to the sheen of an ornamental pebble, asked this strange creature, this alien, how old she was. "I'm nearly 47," she said. Simon rolled his eyes until they threatened to roll out of his head, down the aisle and out into street. "But that's only one side of me," Susan added, and wiggled her hips. The camera cut to the other male judge, Piers Morgan, who winced. Didn't Susan know she was not supposed to be sexual? The audience's reaction was equally disgusting. They giggled with embarrassment, and when Susan said she wanted to be a professional singer, the camera spun to a young girl, who seemed to be at least half mascara.

She gave an "As if!" squeak and smirked. Amanda Holden, the female judge, a woman with improbably raised eyebrows and snail trails of Botox over her perfectly smooth face, chose neutrality. And then Susan sang. She stood with her feet apart, like a Scottish Edith Piaf, and very slowly began to sing Les Miserables' I Dreamed A Dream. It was wonderful.

The judges were astonished. They gasped, they gaped, they clapped. They looked almost ashamed. I was briefly worried that Simon might stab himself with a pencil, and mutter, "Et tu, Piers, for we have wronged Susan in thinking that because she is a munter, she is entirely useless." How could they have misjudged her, they gesticulated. But how could they not? No makeup? Bad teeth? Funny hair? Is she insane, this sad little Scottish spinster, beloved only of Pebbles the Cat?

When Susan had finished singing, and Piers had finished gasping, he said this. It was a comment of incredible spite. "When you stood there with that cheeky grin and said, 'I want to be like Elaine Paige', everyone was laughing at you. No one is laughing now." And it was over to Amanda Holden, a woman most notable for playing a psychotic hairdresser in the Manchester hair-extensions saga Cutting It. "I am so thrilled," said Amanda, "because I know that everybody was against you." "Everybody was against you," she said, as if Susan might have been hanged for her presumption. Why? Can't "ugly" people dream, you flat-packed, hair-ironed, over-plucked monstrous fool?

 

Star Spangled C...

I also typically enver get caught up in these sort of "viral sensations" but this one really did live up to the hype. Truly a wonderful little moment. I remember yesterday walking around the office and hearing this constantly on peoples' computers.

N.R.KISSED

I also thought this was an interesting microcosm of class dynamics, The judges were not only smug and entitled they are also talentless and clueless. Simon Cowell is a "producer" but like members of the ruling class he actually doesn't do anything productive or creative and also like the ruling class he is in the position to appropriate and exploit the productive and creative actions of others.

Slumberjack

Her composure even before the song began, when everyone was snickering at her was inspiring.  She said she'd never been given the chance before, in response to being asked why she hadn't yet realized her dream of becoming a professional singer.  It seemed that with every note that she sang, it towered over all the obstacles and societal limitations that had ever been placed in her way.

Polly B Polly B's picture

She has a brilliant voice and I truly hope she carries on to win this stupid contest.

The judges are morons, yes.

aka Mycroft

I loved it when she just walked off after her song as if she was thinking "I've shown you and I don't need to stay around so you can pass judgment on me". Of course, she wasn't thinking that but wouldn't it have been great if she hadn't turned around and just walked off the stage.

Pride for Red D...

She's a role model for women evereywhere.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Call me cynical but I feel she's being used.

Slumberjack

No doubt, but aren't they all on those programs.  If she does instead wind up using that vehicle to realize her goal, then good for her.

Michelle

It's funny, I read the article that Mycroft linked to above, and from the description of the woman, I thought when I watched the video that she was going to be absolutely ogrish, like, really out-of-the-ordinary ugly.  And then I saw the video.  I mean, she's kind of plain (by conventional standards - I'm not a big believer in those), but she's not horribly ugly or anything! 

In fact, from the interview beforehand, she seems quite charming and funny.  I'd say that most people aren't all that great looking, but it's their personality lighting up their features that make them attractive.  Which is why so many people aren't "photogenic", or feel like they look way worse in pictures than they do in real life.  Because in real life, your personality is mitigating your visual flaws, or perhaps even highlighting them in a way that makes them attractive.

I've been with guys before who, when people asked me if they were "hot" or "good-looking", I hesitate.  Because if you just go by looks completely, most of them have been kind of average (although a few have been quite nice looking by society's standards), and one or two have been downright plain.  And yet, I thought they were all the most beautiful people when I was with them, and loved their looks because of their facial expressions, their mannerisms, their laughter, etc.  And I don't mean that I liked them in spite of their looks - I mean that I felt as attracted to their looks as I would had they had model looks, and felt good whenever I looked at them because they were THEM.  So my hesitation would come in because I would think the guy was absolutely lovely, but I knew that without knowing the guy, others might just sort of shrug and think he was plain.

People are beautiful.  Interesting how, the older I get, the less I get asked that sort of question when talking about someone I'm seeing.  I used to get that question all the time when I was in my 20's and the subject of boyfriends or spouses came up.  I think as people get older, though, the "model" type of good looks becomes much less important.  If anything, I find that people in my life generally think about other people's looks, if they're in the judging mood at all, in terms of whether the person is making the most of what they've got, as opposed to whether they've got model looks to begin with.

I also often wonder whether my feelings about this would be different if I were conventionally gorgeous or had "model looks".  Sometimes I think it's a blessing in disguise to be ordinary or plain, because as you grow to accept yourself and even see some beauty in yourself, I think you see beauty in others who are not conventionally beautiful.  And life is so much more pleasant when you can see beauty in all the people around you, as opposed to feeling like everyone is ugly or plain. :)

aka Mycroft

Susan Boyle sings "Cry Me A River" from a community charity CD made in 1999.

Jerk Jaws

I think this Susan Boyle thing is a sad commentary on our society.  It constantly amazes me how, even in this day and age where it is commonplace for women to be out in the workforce and many are working alongside men doing the same jobs, that this blatantly sexist drivel continues.  For goodness sake, she is a good singer; but these talent shows are full of good singers!!  Is Susan Boyle an exceptionally good singer or is all the hype really about a less than conventionally attractive woman having a singing voice that could realistically land her a recording contract, world tour and/or long career on British Broadway?  I suspect the latter, hence my disgust at our so-called educated society continuing to treat people like Ms Boyle as though they were circus freaks-- but neither am I a musical expert so I may be missing something here?   

Unionist

Thanks, Jerk Jaws, I'm with you. She seems to have had some voice training, but personally I find her voice grating - confirmed by listening to her "Cry Me A River" in 1999. More importantly, I find the whole spectacle revolting. Tanya Gold (see OP) said it best:

Quote:
Susan will probably win Britain's Got Talent. She will be the little munter that could sing, served up for the British public every Saturday night. Look! It's "ugly"! It sings! And I know that we think that this will make us better people. But Susan Boyle will be the freakish exception that makes the rule. By raising this Susan up, we will forgive ourselves for grinding every other Susan into the dust. It will be a very partial and poisoned redemption. Because Britain's Got Malice. Sing, Susan, sing - to an ugly crowd that doesn't deserve you.

I will sit up and take notice when human rights legislation in Canada and elsewhere is amended to prohibit discrimination in employment, provision of services, etc. on the ground of personal appearance. Short of that societal advance, the beatification of Susan Boyle and like phenomena will represent self-gratifying tokenism, not progress.

 

Ghislaine

Unionist wrote:

Thanks, Jerk Jaws, I'm with you. She seems to have had some voice training, but personally I find her voice grating - confirmed by listening to her "Cry Me A River" in 1999. More importantly, I find the whole spectacle revolting. Tanya Gold (see OP) said it best:

Quote:
Susan will probably win Britain's Got Talent. She will be the little munter that could sing, served up for the British public every Saturday night. Look! It's "ugly"! It sings! And I know that we think that this will make us better people. But Susan Boyle will be the freakish exception that makes the rule. By raising this Susan up, we will forgive ourselves for grinding every other Susan into the dust. It will be a very partial and poisoned redemption. Because Britain's Got Malice. Sing, Susan, sing - to an ugly crowd that doesn't deserve you.

I will sit up and take notice when human rights legislation in Canada and elsewhere is amended to prohibit discrimination in employment, provision of services, etc. on the ground of personal appearance. Short of that societal advance, the beatification of Susan Boyle and like phenomena will represent self-gratifying tokenism, not progress.

 

I agree with you overall unionist. This episode did not warm my heart or anything like that. I found her voice grating and the worldwide amazement that someone who is supposedly "ugly" can carry a tune very revealing.

Your human rights proposal might cause problems for modelling agencies, strip clubs, escort services and Hooters when trying to hire - would it not? Tongue out

remind remind's picture

Hmm ever think it was the other way around that her lack of looks influenced your perception of her singing?

Unionist

Ghislaine wrote:

Your human rights proposal might cause problems for modelling agencies, strip clubs, escort services and Hooters when trying to hire - would it not? Tongue out

Hopefully, yes, it would. Laughing

But no more than the already existing (but unenforced) prohibitions on age discrimination.

Star Spangled C...

People at work are still talking about this and something someone brought up yesterday made me think.

When people think of a typical "pop star", they tend to be the conventionally attractive type; think Brittney Spears or Christina Aguilera for women or justin Timerlake for men. However, when you have these "talent show" contests like Britain's Got Talent or American Idol, the winners tend NOT to be these traditionally attractive people. Reuben and Fantasia from American Idol are both quite overweight, Clay Aiken doesn't exaclty look like Leo Dicaprio. Maybe what it shows is that the people who are "groomed" for pop stardom like Justin Timberlake and Brittney Spears, who ahve both been performing since they were kids, tend to be the attractive ones with a slew of managers, agents, record labels all hyping them. But when it comes down to a contest, when it's about pure talent and people are actually allowed to vote, these people aren't the ones who are winning. It's people like Susan Boyle.

Jerk Jaws

Pride for Red Dolores wrote:

She's a role model for women evereywhere.

Guaranteed-- but only if she doesn't get that makeover she's apparently considering.  It's too bad we will not see the same woman on her next appearance Yell  And, I went back and watched both performances on You Tube-- and now firmly believe that a latter-day Andrew Lloyd Webber or even Lord Andy himself, will be calling Susan very soon.  She is a wonderful singer!!  You Go, Girl!!   

Makwa Makwa's picture

I think people are surprised and endeared by Ms. Boyle, because they have forgotton what actual singing is.  Years ago, the English 'dancehall' and the American gospel environments  produced prodigious voices, often carried by less-than-movie-starish appearing women.  Opera, to my knowledge, has never succumbed to the lure of physical beauty over majesty of voice, nor has traditional music of the non-western-urban planetary world, as evidenced in places as diverse as South Africa and Bulgaria. The 'beautiful' singers of today can't actually sing, in any real fashion.  Overproduced, monotone wailing over derivative electro-polyrhythmic fashion of the moment noise has been substituted for the universal movement of the heart and mind that can be stirred by the human voice expressed fully.  Ms. Boyle, like most of us, may be pug ugly, but she has the voice of an angel.

Peter3

I sang in choirs when I was younger, and met a few folks along the way with considerable vocal ability and talent whose entire careers were spent in local groups (usually church related).  They did it, in part, for the enjoyment of their community but mostly because they felt a need to sing.  I allowed them to say things they could not articulate any other way.

I expect that whatever training Susan Boyle has had over the years came from a similar experience. It is clear that she is a shy person when speaking, and uncertain of how to respond.  She was so petrified she had to grope for the word "villages" while being questioned by Simon What's-it. 

I pity those who listened to her and were unable to hear what she expressed.  The piece she performed is a lament for dreams unrealized by someone whom fate has scorned.  It was sung by someone whose whole heart was in its expression and who understood its meaning in ways that are more fundamental than mere analysis. I expect that there is no point in discussng this with anyone who would describe Ms. Boyle's performance or her voice as grating. You are deaf in ways you cannot imagine.

I hate these stupid shows for reasons others have already articulated.  I am glad, however, that Susan Boyle saw this spectacle as a chance to be heard and risked ridicule and contempt to get in front of the cameras.  Of course she is being used; the system uses us all. But every so often the bastards end up having their smugness thrown back in their faces.  This is one of those times and I am grateful to her for that almost as much as for the extraordinary gift of her singing.

Unionist

Peter3 wrote:

I pity those who listened to her and were unable to hear what she expressed.

Thank you. I feel better already.

Quote:
I expect that there is no point in discussng this with anyone who would describe Ms. Boyle's performance or her voice as grating.

No, please, do go on, I'm so sorry, I will struggle to grasp your subtle nuance! Please! Pretty please!

Quote:
You are deaf in ways you cannot imagine.

Pardon?

 

Bookish Agrarian

I am not sure why it is so surprising given the last internet sensation from this very same show.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1k08yxu57NA

Peter3

Unionist wrote:

No, please, do go on, I'm so sorry, I will struggle to grasp your subtle nuance! Please! Pretty please!

Quote:
You are deaf in ways you cannot imagine.

Pardon?

Thanks for making the point so aptly.

Unionist

Is the man humourless in addition to being rude? Tune in next week for the answer.

 

Peter3

Unionist wrote:

Is the man humourless in addition to being rude? Tune in next week for the answer.

 

Hardly.  The fact that you would call someone else rude without any apparent attempt at irony cracked me up.

Star Spangled C...

To follow up to Makwa's point...there seems to be a divide between those singers (or actors or whatever) categorized as 'stars" versus those who are "talented". I mean, look at opera, the very originator of the idea of "fat lady sings...". Luciano Pavorati wasn't much to look at but is revered as an insaely talented singer in a way that some boy band singer never will be. You get the same with actors and actresses. Philip Seymour Hoffman is well regarded as a terific actor but he's unlikely to get "leading man" roles that will go to people with half his talent but who are more handsome.

Bookish Agrarian

Are you suggesting they will not be celebrating Menudo 50 years from now?

 

On the other hand Maria Callas certainly wasn't hurt by her beauty after a mid career body shape change.  Of course she was also a once in a generation talent.

Hardly surprising that there just might be a beauty double standard for men and women.

N.R.KISSED

For those who are being critical of her singing abilities it is worth noting that she is an amateur who is singing live not only in front of an audience that is much larger than I would imagine she has ever faced but also in front of Cameras for a National television show.This would be daunting even for a professional. Most singing that we tend to hear is not live and professionals have had the training coaching and experience that is necessary to shape talent. There are also a number of voice modulating technologies that are utilized by many pro's usually those with weaker voices but even those with amazing voices depend on getting the right mix, effects etc that highligts there voice, someone coming on a show like this is not going to have that luxurey.

Having said that I find her voice gorgeous powerful and deeply soulful even though I'm not a fan of show tunes. I don't get the grating comments but I suppose taste is taste. Personally I don't find a powerful and evocative expression of the human soul as ever being grating.

I'm also not (for a change) being overly cynical in terms of peoples response (beyond the idiot judges) to this song, I think many people were genuinely moved not only by her powerful voice but also by her pluck. I agree with Michelle I was found her charming and endearing before she ever sang. I also like Makway believe that people long for genuine authentic creative expressions from the heart and it is rare in the mediated manipulated culture to experience that so when we do we are genuinely moved.

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

I hadn't heard about this until I read it here. I watched the clip.  Wonderful.  I just reloaded it to show someone else and in the 4 or 5 hours since I first watched it's gotten a million more views.  Wow. 

Cueball Cueball's picture

N.R.KISSED wrote:

For those who are being critical of her singing abilities it is worth noting that she is an amateur who is singing live not only in front of an audience that is much larger than I would imagine she has ever faced but also in front of Cameras for a National television show.

I don't think anyone is really crititiquing the technical aspects of her singing, which is obviously first rate. I didn't actually find in remarkable in terms of its delivery, but rather to be standard fair for people who have trained that kind of voice for themself.  I personally preferred the torch arrangement in her earlier recorded preformance to the televised one, it had way more charchater. Even then it's rock solid. But, as in the Stanley Cup playoff's, as solid performance is always safer than a flashy one, so I can see why she used the stock delivery in televised piece.

Wow. very revealing debate. Bookish Agrarian introduced us to the previous winner above, and its good that he did because we can see the that the trope is repeated, complete with the point where the smirking derrision of the judges is overcome in the miraculous moment of "discovery". I am sure the show also takes care to make sure that there are enough "wannabes" and embarrassed blooper clowns to make fun of in order to make the diamond in the rough Cinderella theme believable, as well was entertaining.

Fact is that Susan Boyle doesn't have a chance, and never had a chance and is only useful in as much as she plays to the set up trope of the show, and it definitely is a set up and a trope, and Susan, and her B+/A- rock solid but not too adventurous MOR singing voice is only useful in as much as it plays to the trope, and the chimera of rags to riches super stardom, which is regularly doled out by the corporates media as an example to others that "anything is possible," even when we are talking about frumpy middle aged women from Scotland.

Keep on dreaming folks!

That said I like Susan and if she can get some headway here for herself against the tide of corporate class warfare in the UK and some respect, all the more power to her. That personal achievement should not be underated.

My ex-Scotish, Celtics fan, ex-gf, once made the comment in reference to one of my relatives that the "empire was founded on old battleaxes like that". This episode reminded me of that for some reason: Respect.

Back in the day, when pre-packaged music was not delivered up in every possible nook and cranny of our society from elevators to bars, people had every reason and opportunity to hone their talents, and many did so. Not so long ago music was indeed the domain of the ordinary person, and it only became commodified with the advent of radio and TV, which has literally drowned out the voice of the ordinary man or woman, and even the institution of the "local" band, and replaced the local pub hero with an easily commodifiable star system, where the "talent" is centralized and commodifiable.

It is even a material fact, enforced by the way music is disseminated: All other voices simply can not be heard above the cacophany eminating from every possible electronic conduit availalble.

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

Cueball I'm not sure what you mean that Susan Boyle doesn't have a chance. Chance at what exactly?

 

Cueball Cueball's picture

The music industry is predicated upon controlling the media in such a way that corporations can control the "talent'. In order to do so it limits the access to choice in the market place by forwarding "talent A" over "talent B". By eliminating "talent B" from the market place by not allowing it access to the radio, or to distribution in stores, or to promotion on television, the consumer is not aware even of the existance of "talent B". Profit is about strategically positioning the company so that it controls the market, and offering limited choice for selection.

In fact, the whole show is premised on the "suprise" and "shock" caused by the idea that such "talent B" could even be possible in the form of a frumpy middle aged villager from Scotland, outside of the label system. That is how succesful the industry has been at positioning itself as the arbiter of taste through controlling the market. No one would have been shocked or suprised 100 years ago at the appearance of a voice enabled middle aged Scotish villager. They would, indeed, expect such a person.

 "Contracts" essentially guarantee nothing in terms of promotion or payment, but instead offer a "partnership" model where the label is lending the money to the artist predicated on the basic principle that all costs incurred in the production, distribution and marketing of the product will be recouped against the future profits of the CD. This is a very convenient arrangement since essentially other than covering the costs of inhouse production facilities, and salaries of a few people the label actually invests nothing, while at the same time assessing the value of those services way above the actual costs incurred by the label.

It is not as if the A&R people just throw up all the sticks in the air and say: "pick what you want!". No they select talent, and then the marketing department then exclude as many competing options as possible. It is even a known practice to deliberately sign artists that are competative in a particular market precisely for the purpose of gaining the rights to an artist work so that their work can be controlled and then submerged in the market simply by not promoting the product, something which essentially costs the label nothing since they invested nothing other than the basic cost of making a recording. This is done in order to preference the work of artists established in a particular genre which the label also controls, by promoting one and not the other.

Susan Boyle does not have a chance of being a succesful music star, except, as I pointed out, as she plays to the set up trope of the  Cinderella routine. She might be able to get some milage out of that I suppose, but the music industry is not interested in Susan Boyles voice, they are interested in controlling it.

She was tartly dismissed even, when the third judge instructed her that: "you can go back to the village with your head held high".

I suppose that deserves some analysis in terms of how class relationships are overtly expressed in Britain as opposed to the US and Canada where the myth that class doesn't really exist in the realm of the social is more essential to the ruling ideology.

 

Unionist

Tanya Gold wrote:
But Susan Boyle will be the freakish exception that makes the rule.

The sheer rapture - on the internet, in this very thread - reminds me of Obama becoming president - the euphoric hope that America is not endemically racist after all, that Reverend Wright is wrong, that even the most unlikely young person can become president!!

Tanya Gold said it very well. And so did Cueball. If you just change a few words (Obama for Boyle, military-industrial complex for entertainment industry, and Cueball's concept of "control") - the parallel is eerily perfect. We don't need to change society. We can effect change one individual at a time. Right.

 

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

Thanks for answering Cueball. I'm more clear on what you are saying now.

Slumberjack

The class element was initially written on the faces of the privileged audience through the disgusted and disbelieving facial expressions.  The audience exchanged disgust and snobbery for expressions of surprise, shock, and perhaps guilt and shame.  To draw that range of expression in one performance is quite an achievement in it's own right.  The audience didn't magically change, they saw some benefit in it for themselves, if only for the entertainment value, as did the judges.  The audience sought talent in the traditional sense, where natural gift takes a backseat to packaged and commercialized beauty. 

Genuine music is not expressed through the meaningless regurgitation of memorized lyrics.  It must convey legitimacy in it's ability to trigger the senses and move the 'soul,' it must be believable.  For a brief moment, the listener is inexorably drawn into the life experiences that are selectively conveyed by the singer, each to their ability.

Makwa Makwa's picture

To my chagrin, I realize that my contribution is not even remotely feminist in thought.  Oopsy, sorry.  Just wondering, why couldn't Ms. Boyle find some cross-over success like Rita MacNeil?  Every singer doesn't have to be young and conventionally attractive.

Hoodeet

Susan Boyle did have voice and music lessons for years. It´s her passion. 
She is also currently unemployed after having worked for a charity and spent years looking after her parents, both dead now.

I cheer for her because she represents the spunkiest of the underclass in that class-bound society, and as others have pointed out in this thread, her physical appearance is not at all unusual in the world of opera (at least until appearance and "star quality" became important career criteria) and of church and community choirs. 

Personally, I preferred her "Cry me a river" to the overly-exaggerated tremolo of her Miz solo she sang for the talent show.

 

Ktown

There are an incredible amount of untalented people who go on these glorified talent shows  to make nothing but a mockery of the program. Good on them, but I think it is rediculous for folks here to criticize the judges or audience for being apprehensive about Ms. Boyle or her ass wiggling episode before her audition.  Talented she was, and good on her to take the step that may offer her a more prosperous futures.

Cueball Cueball's picture

You really believe there is no selection process and people just sign up and go on? People are chosen, the judges may not know why, but they are chosen. Regardless, the clearly are performing a well worked out schtick. They did the self-same performance for last years winner with the addition of the female judge being so awestruck with emotion she cried. They may even be tipped off in advance. If you think this kind of thing is a freely given performance by the judges and other "promoters" off stage and in the "audience" you are sadly mistaken.

They choose bloopers, clowns and throw in raw talent occassionaly just to add to the show dynamics. It's a circus. It's showbiz buddy. Get with it.

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

 Cueball. So what? Take away the contrived editing, the 'story' that was created for the 'showbiz' aspect of that segmant and you still have Ms. Boyle getting up on that stage in front of millions of people and singing her heart out because despite it all that's what she wanted to do and she was good. Really good.  That's what many are responding too. With all of the numbers of people who are now viewing that segmant around the world due to the wonders of the nets I don't expect that the majority have even, will even watch the whole show or really care much about the show. People aren't responding to the whole thing in the context of the show but to the single performance and if the commentary that follows those viewings is any indication, for a myriad of different reasons. The biggest conclusion it seems is that people want to hear her sing more whether it's on the show or somewhere else because for whatever reasons her actual singing touched them.

I'm not sure about last years winner. I didn't see it. The year before that's winner, awkward car phone sales guy who had the crazy desire to sing opera,  won and went on to have a pretty decent career doing what he wanted to do and is still doing it, with success, two years later. He's sold over two million records world wide, tours in some pretty major venues (for Opera) , has won some pretty major awards just this year and his first record was ranked the number four classical record in the world. Mainly though, he gets to sing and people like to listen to him sing. Why is that such a bad thing? Sure he's not going to change the world, or provide some sort of profound statement on the state of society and the 'showbiz' industry but why does he have too. He just wants to sing because he loves it.  I don't think you can base his success and people wanting to listen to him only on the fact that he played under dog guy on some two bit talent show two years ago. One of my relatives got his album last year, loves it and until yesterday didn't have a clue that he even was on that show. They just heard him somewhere, liked it and got it.  My husband, who likes Opera for some reason, after viewing some youtube videos yesterday when I discovered them after looking at Boyle, loved him and now has his album on his B-day wish list. He could care less about the stupid show. He just likes what he heard.

 

Back to the OP and the whole question of Susan Boyle story. Since I read about it hear before I ever watched it I couldn't get a full honest reaction myself to what I saw. I knew when she walked out on stage that she was going to do well and wasn't one of those people that they put into shows like this for the audience to mock and cringe at in the OMG that's painful way.  Even so I was still surprised when she opened her mouth. I liked her singing and it did move me, beyond just, wow decent singer who can carry a tune. 

So anyways I tried my own experiment with two people who hadn't heard of Boyle or the story.  When they got home I had the Cry Me a River song just playing in the background without comment. They both like that music and both commented on that song and asked who it was because they really liked it. I said I wasn't sure it was just some random music I found on the nets. They then tried to figure out who it was and went through a bunch of well known singers but couldn't place it.  Then about ten minutes later I loaded up the Susan Boyle segmant and said with a big grin, "Oh hey you gotta check this out."   Well they both laughed when they saw her, one raised a eyebrow and the wiggle brought some rolling of the eyes. Before she started singing, one did say "Is she any good, cause I can't watch these shows that purposely put people on to embarass them. I hate them."  I just shrugged. Then she started singing and both were floored. "Holy shyte that's amazing," was one comment and then just a bunch of smiles and grins and really when it came down to it they just enjoyed it and enjoyed her singing.  After it was over I filled them in on some of the background and more smiles and grins. Really it just made them happy.   I did say, 'well look both of you laughed and giggled and acted much like the people on the show did."  One was a little embarassed and the other said 'yeah, but that's what a lot of these shows do on purpose and it stinks but it's hard not to think that way. That's one of the reasons I hate watching these type of shows because I hate thinking like that. It makes me feel horrible."  We talked some more about manipulation of the medium, shows like this and what they do, about looks and perception verses talent, ageism and a whole bunch of other things similar to some of peoples comments here.  It's not that they were mistaken on how it all works or didn't get what was going on, or that in the background there was production manipulation or any of that.  They just really liked Susan Boyle, connected with her when she was singing, despite all of the background noise and crap and were glad that someone like her, who normally wouldn't have a chance because she doesn't 'fit' with mainstream music norm,  to get up on stage because they liked and really enjoyed hearing HER sing, so much so that they played the song part over three times.

After all that I told them that the song I was playing when they got home was actually her ten years ago. More surprise, but happy surprise. That's great. I'm glad she's getting a chance. If she continues to sing like that I hope she does more. I hope the music people don't screw her up too much because I really liked it.

I think that meta type analysis has it's place. I think that talking about 'why' is important. I think that a certain level of cynisim is warrented in this media contrived age but I also think that sometimes despite it all it really is just about heart, passion and singing and people responding to that, despite the venue that they hear it from.

Unionist

It's exploitative reality TV, cleverer than most - because instead of mocking the "ugly person" (which they do plenty of, as ElizaQ points out), in this case it "redeems" her because she turns out to have one redeeming feature. Many YouTube comments have said that the lesson here is "you can't tell a book by its cover". That's the message, all right - the cover is "ugly", but there might be some different type of star inside. That message brings no comfort to youth and adults who are daily humiliated and marginalized because of their personal appearance and who are pressured to conform to an impossible ideal.

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

Maybe you should speak for yourself Unionist.  Are you connected to the minds of all adults and youth who are or have at one time been in that situation?  I don't think so but yes I get it, you just know somehow. If her example doesn't speak to you fair enough but you don't speak for everyone. 

Unionist

ElizaQ wrote:

Maybe you should speak for yourself Unionist.

You sound angry - I'm not sure why. Did I say something to offend you? Do you have a problem with my expressing an opinion as to the effect I think such spectacles have on ordinary-looking people, like me and most of the people I know?

I'll repeat my opinion in clear terms. The message I hear, not only in this horrendous TV program, but in many comments on the internet (including here), is that if you don't meet some norm of physical appearance, you'd best have something else going for you. The message is not that "it's okay to look like this". And that's what makes it disturbing to me.

 

Slumberjack

The message to me is that some people can hear things that others can't, or won't.  Strip away the TV program and the personalities of the hosts and audience in all it's ugliness, and just listen to the voice and the message contained within the choice of the song.  Emphasising appearance in the debate just plays into what everyone else is discussing, which shows were we are really at with it, not far removed from what we are condemning.

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

  No not mad. Not at all.  Just pointing out that your making broad statements about  people making comments that you don't know. You're making an assumption that your interpretation of the 'message' is the only one and that, that's the message that all of those people are responding too.

 I don't have a problem at all with your particular opinion about the message only that it's not necessarily THE message that all of those commenters are responding too and that the message as they hear it can't bring people some comfort to them or others as miniscule as it might be. 

 I'm one of those ordinary people who in my youth was much maligned, teased and bullied for my looks and other nerdy geeky things and I hear the message differently then you do. The message I hear is that it IS perfectly A- okay to look like this because people as human are always much more then just what they appear to be on the outside. When I read a comment, 'you can't judge a book by it's cover' it's a positive rather then a negative because it's really quite true. You can't and you shouldn't.  I hear many of those  commenters  as possible 'pretty' people who sees this as a reminder or as possible 'not so pretty' people who might actually be one of those people who you said would get no comfort  from Boyles example and 'message' and write those words in confirmation of what they know to be true from their actual experiences.

 

 

 

Bookish Agrarian

Some people just refuse to see the forest for the trees.  Yep it is all contrived clap trap.  But Ms Boyle is real.  That's what people are responding to.  In a world of fakery, a real person was able to shove her foot in the door and flip them all the bird.  Good for her, and the rest of us get to imagine for a moment we had her courage to try to do it too.

Cueball Cueball's picture

No one has said anything against Ms. Boyle.

Fidel

I think that the attention given to Ms Boyle is a sign that our capitalist societies are on the verge of realizing that things in general are broken. With currently existing capitalism, usually only the best of the best are rewarded for their talents. And then those elite groups of people are paid ridiculous amounts of money and tends to reflect the overall elitist structure of our socieities.

And the tiny few who do manage to enter into professional entertainer stardom, good looks also tend to be a factor. Economist [url=/http://creativeclass.com/]Richard Florida[/url] appeared on CBC's The Hour a week or two ago. And he talked about how some of the largest cities in the USA  "get it" while the flyover states don' seem to get it. He says major change is needed, and that we should nurture a creative class of people. Perhaps in a more modern and progressive economy, talented people like Ms Boyle will be encouraged a lot moreso than now.

 

 

Daedalus Daedalus's picture

Fidel wrote:
With currently existing capitalism, usually only the best of the best are rewarded for their talents.

 

Are you saying that the bloated, juvenile ursine parasites and overgrown toddlers who are running this society are the "best of the best"? I'm surprised we're not in more dire straits than we really are, if so.

Personally I think that things get very nepotistic, not meritocratic, as one rises into the social stratosphere. The cream rises a little, but nowhere near as high as simple advantage.

As for Susan Boyle, I agree with the sentiments expressed by Tanya Gold, Cueball, and Unionist.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Quote:
She knew the whole drivelling song by heart, it seemed. Her voice floated upward with the sweet summer air, very tuneful, charged with a sort of happy melancholy. One had the feeling that she would have been perfectly content, if the June evening had been endless and the supply of clothes inexhaustible, to remain there for a thousand years, pegging out diapers and singing rubbish. It struck him as a curious fact that he had never heard a member of the Party singing alone and spontaneously. It would even have seemed slightly unorthodox, a dangerous eccentricity, like talking to oneself. Perhaps it was only when people were somewhere near the starvation level that they had anything to sing about.

Some of you might recognize the source, but it is from here.

Bookish Agrarian

Cueball wrote:

No one has said anything against Ms. Boyle.

 

Not suggesting anyone did.  What I was refering to was the lack of understanding what people are responding too.  Some want to go on about the fakery of the show, when that is self-evident given this very same strategy was used before, which I linked to.  Others want to go on about the power and manipulation of showbiz especially the music industry.  Well, duh, no kidding, ever hear of this thing called the punk movenment, which was all about rebelling against that.  Of course it was eventually co-opted, just like all the other genre's before it. 

None of that is why PEOPLE are responding.  They are responding to someone quite ordinary in the best sense of the word who had the courage to stand up and be herself and not giving a crap how people were reacting.  That, regardless of how fake the show is, how anti-creative the music industry is, is really the point that many of posters are missing.

In other words they can't see the forest for all the damn trees.

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