Susan Boyle

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Cueball Cueball's picture

I don't think anyone is missing that point. Some people can see that the forest is made up of trees. What you seem to be missing is that raising objections to media manipulation, classism, or deconstructing the social relations surrounding the show itself, is not necessarily an objection to what you are saying. It is as if you are insisting that the only thing that is relevant is Ms. Boyles temerity to stand up for herself, and that any wider discussion is some kind of insult to that, and we should all shut up therefore. If you had bothered to read what I wrote, for example, my postings fully acknowledged her personal achievment, as when I said:

Quote:
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.

You are just picking a fight for some reason only known to yourself. At one point I considered taking up the issue of the John Lydon case, and the discovery that even a grass roots reaction against corporatization of music, one that directly challenges it, can be commodified. Punk is the perfect example. I laugh every time Henry Rollins tells everyone to "turn off your TV's now!" on national televisions -- its makes for great TV.

 

Bookish Agrarian

Actually Cueball it seems to be you that is trying to pick a fight for no reason.  I don't really disagree with anything you've said.  For a time I was helping out with someone trying to make it in the music business.  That was a lot of years ago, but I doubt much has changed.  However, some of the other posters have been unable to contemplate why a lot of people might think - good for her, even if their idea of good music has little to do with showtunes!

You know just because I post something doesn't mean it is critical of you!Kiss

Cueball Cueball's picture

Bookish Agrarian wrote:

Actually Cueball it seems to be you that is trying to pick a fight for no reason.  I don't really disagree with anything you've said.  For a time I was helping out with someone trying to make it in the music business.  That was a lot of years ago, but I doubt much has changed.  However, some of the other posters have been unable to contemplate why a lot of people might think - good for her, even if their idea of good music has little to do with showtunes!

You know just because I post something doesn't mean it is critical of you!Kiss

 

Sorry. I guess I was off-base in thinking you comments were directed at me. You have to admit it's hard to tell when you start your attack by using a quote from me as a starting point, and then touch on subjects which I undertook at length such as the "power and manipulation of showbiz especially the music industry", and dismisses that critique with a "well, duh, no kidding."

Unionist

Cueball wrote:
What you seem to be missing is that raising objections to media manipulation, classism, or deconstructing the social relations surrounding the show itself, is not necessarily an objection to what you are saying. It is as if you are insisting that the only thing that is relevant is Ms. Boyles temerity to stand up for herself, and that any wider discussion is some kind of insult to that, and we should all shut up therefore.

Very observant. One notes the same emotional reaction throughout this thread. I think it shows the power of the manipulation which took place. Once the paradigm is posed: "You're either for Susan Boyle or you're against her", the manipulators get off scot free.

Remember the racist expression, "a credit to his/her race"? In the over-the-top praise and defiant defence of Ms. Boyle, there may be more than a touch of condescension.

There is a social issue, and it needs to be addressed. Let discrimination and harassment on the basis of personal appearance be ostracized, socially and legally, the way it is for other prohibited grounds that the person cannot control (race, sex, colour, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, etc.). That is a cause worth fighting for. Not any individual.

Bookish Agrarian wrote:
However, some of the other posters have been unable to contemplate why a lot of people might think - good for her,...

Oh, I have my theory on that. It's akin to the impoverished nice selfless working-class senior who buys a lottery ticket and wins. "Good for her!", we all say, or feel! It's not a deep emotion, nor necessarily a very worthy one. It salves the conscience. It leaves the defective world as is, but hails the exception which proves the rule (as Tanya Gold aptly said).

 

remind remind's picture

So much for feminist analysis, so far it is just a bunch of men getting their feelings hurt and a critique of the music industries exploitive nature. :rolleyes:

Ms Boyle, is at a stage in her life where women are completely devalued. For her to take this step and expose herself to the world at large, is a significant role model action for middle aged women who want to pursue their dreams still,  in the face of patriarchial society wanting them to be invisible. It will dispense courage and confidence to other middle aged women, and apparently,  from what I can gather from some of the male voices in this thread, it bothers them, though perhaps on a subconscious level.

 

 

Unionist

You don't have to agree with Tanya Gold's analysis, but you might at least acknowledge that it's a tenable one.

 

Daedalus Daedalus's picture

remind wrote:
Ms Boyle, is at a stage in her life where women are completely devalued. For her to take this step and expose herself to the world at large, is a significant role model action for middle aged women who want to pursue their dreams still,  in the face of patriarchial society wanting them to be invisible. It will dispense courage and confidence to other middle aged women

 

I don't think anyone is taking issue with that.

The criticism has to do with the reactions and presumptions involved in those reactions. Why should surprise be other than a shameful confession of prejudice against people like Ms. Boyle? So many seem elated and euphoric to express surprise, and it really shouldn't come as a shock that a middle-aged working-class woman like Ms. Boyle could have talent.

My reaction was mostly anger and sadness at the crowd. I was very impressed with Ms. Boyle, although I really didn't find it surprising. I wasn't just impressed with her talent, but also her stoicism - how could she not show so much as a trace of resentment when she walked out to be met with rolling eyes and dismissive airs? I would've just flipped them the bird and walked off, I don't have that kind of fortitude or dignity. But I didn't really find that surprising either. I have long known the kind of fortitude of character that people like Ms. Boyle possess. I know some people like her who strike me as similar to Atlas holding up the sky.

One can be angered at the surprised reaction of those who obviously don't identify with Ms. Boyle, and still commend her and be pleased that she will give strength to those who identify with her. I don't see these things as being mutually exclusive.

Fidel

Daedalus wrote:

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.

No. I believe I used the word elitist in describing our western societies. Britain is a bit like Canada, however, in that actors and entertainers arent marketed and worshipped like they are in the USA. In the USA, there are Hollywood stars, Nashville singing elites, MTV idols etc, but not a lot of talent recognized or rewarded nearly the same in between those higher plateau's of talent. We sometimes hear the typical rags to riches stories from people whove made it big time. Living in motels and sometimes their cars one day and playing the Grand ol Oprey the next kinda thing. And I'm thinking many a talented entertainer have given up because the road to fame and fortune, the elite level, is just too difficult. Perhaps there are some number of talented people who were forced to give up their life calling due to a lack of money at a time when it could have made all the difference in their lives.

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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.

Absolutely. I think there are a relative handful of people, king-makers and queen-makers so to speak, deciding who makes it and who doesnt.  And it's not very democratic for sure.

Cueball Cueball's picture

remind wrote:

So much for feminist analysis, so far it is just a bunch of men getting their feelings hurt and a critique of the music industries exploitive nature. :rolleyes:

Ms Boyle, is at a stage in her life where women are completely devalued. For her to take this step and expose herself to the world at large, is a significant role model action for middle aged women who want to pursue their dreams still,  in the face of patriarchial society wanting them to be invisible. It will dispense courage and confidence to other middle aged women, and apparently,  from what I can gather from some of the male voices in this thread, it bothers them, though perhaps on a subconscious level.

Yeah that is what its about Remind. As far as they are concerned this is just a good marketing angle, and maybe 10 minutes of good tv. They will sell anything, and Cindrella is a classice fairy tale. Even bettter if you can float it with some postive social politics. I guess I'll be off now since 8 years in the music industry watching peoples dreams being shattered or exploited (usually both) has been trumped by identity politics.

"Susan: You are a little tiger aren't you. You can go back to the village now with your head held high."

This show is over. G'night.

remind remind's picture

Unionist wrote:
You don't have to agree with Tanya Gold's analysis, but you might at least acknowledge that it's a tenable one.
Never said a word about tanya's analysis actually, however now that you have mentioned it, I do disagree with portions, while agree with others,  but I find her every bit as condescendingly lookish, as those others she accuses of being so.

First of all, I do no think Ms Boyle is ugly, in fact if something was done with her hair and her eyebrows had a narrowing, she would be attractive. Not stunning, but attractive for a middle aged woman. Nor do I think she looked like a lump of pork on a doily,  nor is her face squashed in. As such,  I really have no use for Tanya's critique of Ms Boyle's appearance.

remind remind's picture

Cueball wrote:
Yeah that is what its about Remind. As far as they are concerned this is just a good marketing angle, and maybe 10 minutes of good tv. They will sell anything, and Cindrella is a classice fairy tale. Even bettter if you can float it with some postive social politics. I guess I'll be off now since 8 years in the music industry watching peoples dreams being shattered or exploited (usually both) has been trumped by identity politics.

"Susan: You are a little tiger aren't you. You can go back to the village now with your head held high."

This show is over. G'night.

You just don't get it. It is not about a cinderella story, it is about courage to strive when you are a middle aged woman who does not fit societal stereotypes. The show, nor the industry have sfa to do with it actually. And you always bring out the "identity politics" red herring when called  on your flawed analysis.

Daedalus Daedalus's picture

remind wrote:
it is about courage to strive when you are a middle aged woman who does not fit societal stereotypes. The show, nor the industry have sfa to do with it actually.

Sure, that's one part of it. But it's not the only part. If you can't feel sad or angry that anyone should be surprised she had talent, I think you're missing another aspect of the whole thing - one that's not at all a criticism of her or of anyone who finds her inspiring.

And, well, it is a Cinderella story. That's exactly what Cinderella was about - a woman at the bottom of the pecking order being recognized for her talents. Heck, according to wikipedia, "The word "cinderella" has, by analogy, come to mean one whose attributes are unrecognised, or one who unexpectedly achieves recognition or success after a period of obscurity and neglect." Not just wikipedia either: Webster's dictionary says much the same.

remind remind's picture

Alrighty then, I guess I as a woman have no clue, what the cinderella complex means to women, and I am not angry nor sad, that anyone was surprised, it is just fucking typical is all.

Cinderella did not have talent, she got dressed and objectified to catch a rich man.

Daedalus Daedalus's picture

remind wrote:
Cinderella did not have talent, she got dressed and objectified to catch a rich man.

 

Cinderella had more personal merit than her advantaged stepsisters, which only becomes obvious when she's put on an equal footing with them. It holds out this fantasy for people brutally shoved down to the bottom of the pecking order that someday, by freak chance or magic or whatever, they'll get a shot at competing on an equal, meritocratic footing. That's why it's been around for over 2000 years, because that's a powerful and alluring fantasy - one that's seen in other social myths and fairy tales (eg the "rags to riches" one a la Dick Whittington). Even religions have appealed to that underlying fantasy.

There are lots of things wrapped up in any fairy tale, and I agree that the objectification aspect is probably one of the things in Cinderella. But that's true of this case, as well. Ms. Boyle is portrayed to us in a way as if to say she is utterly worthless, apart from her saving grace. Which is supposed to be a big shock. She is presented to us as having no inherent value worthy of respect as a person other than her ability to please and amuse the audience - that much is clear by the way she was greeted when she appeared on stage.

remind remind's picture

Which brings me back to  my analysis, that you are still failing to get, along with Cinderella and its negative use against women. This is the feminist forum afterall.

martin dufresne

"Cinderella had more personal merit than her advantaged stepsisters..."

Oh... and why is that, Daedalus? Because she was submissive enough to do the housework without protest...?

Daedalus Daedalus's picture

remind wrote:
Which brings me back to  my analysis, that you are still failing to get

I don't think anybody is criticizing Ms Boyle and I'm sure everyone appreciates what a boost of courage she is to some people. She inspires the disempowered and defies a stereotype. Not just the disempowered; I'm sure even young, spoiled upper middle class urban women derive some comfort: "Hey, if that frumpy old village peasant can do it, surely I must be able to!"

Jingles

Quote:
it is about courage to strive when you are a middle aged woman who does not fit societal stereotypes

You don't think Ms. Boyle is complicit in perpetuating those stereotypes? Not consciously, but by allowing herself to be manipulated by the machine, she is playing her part.

I'd like to see a youtube video of her on Oprah, Leno, or whatever venue she's given to offer a critique of the poisonous cultural expectations that propelled her into the spotlight.

 

remind remind's picture

OFFS

Bookish Agrarian

remind wrote:

OFFS

Exactly!  

aka Mycroft

The reason the Susan Boyle clip is so compelling is because it adheres so closely to the human desire to see the underdog triumph - a narrative that is a recurring element of fables going back centuries. I don't think she should be criticised for that or accused of complicity - she is not in a position of power and she has a completely reasonable desire to have her talent recognized and to make a "success" out of her life.

But yes, she is being exploited by the media and by Simon Cowell (who owns Britain's Got Talent) who I'm sure was well aware of the great story Susan provided them and how profitable it could be to them, particulary during a period of deep recession and growing antipathy towards the elite when people are looking for working class heroes, underdogs and fairy tales.

Daedalus Daedalus's picture

martin dufresne wrote:

"Cinderella had more personal merit than her advantaged stepsisters..."

Oh... and why is that, Daedalus? Because she was submissive enough to do the housework without protest...?

Well, yeah. It's a 2000 year old story. Historical context, please! They weren't all that progressive at the time, you know. Not all of her qualities would be considered positive today. You'd have to believe in universal moral truth to think that an ancient Roman author could have the same ideals of personal merit as we do, particularly in women. The author portrayed a woman with what were considered to be good personal qualities at the time (stoicism, submission to the social order, forgiveness, hardworking etc - only some of which can be seen as positive when viewed from a modern perspective) and it was, for most of the time it's been circulating, read as a fantasy of a meritous but unrecognized individual getting the opportunity to compete with less meritous social superiors on an equal footing, and prevailing. It's difficult to read it that way today, because in a modern context, alot of things that were intended to be personal virtues are now seen to be personal failings and character flaws.

Without historical context, a modern reader has as much trouble comprehending and relating to the underlying fantasy as a Roman would have if the character were a male. To understand the essence of the story's appeal to historical audiences, it's necessary to view it in an appropriate historical context. Viewed through modern eyes it just seems archaic and barbaric, and the underlying fantasy and its tremendous appeal for two millenia cannot be comprehended.

Might explain why some are seeking an updated version ...

 

abnormal

Hate to say it but she's become a phenomenon because of her appearance, not in spite of it.  If she was just a garden variety pretty twenty something people would think she had a good voice but that's about it.  Of course if she were a cute 12 year old that would be a different story again.

One of the UK reviews I read included interviews with a number of performers from the West End and they were pretty much uniformly of the opinion that her voice was somewhere between okay and good but definitely not spectacular - most of them pointed out that there is any number of singers working in the theatre with equally good voices.  (I'm not qualified to comment on that latter statement.) 

If she has a makeover the quality that makes her standout will be gone (and if anyone really believes that Simon Cowell was as surprised as he let on I do have some swampland in Florida that I can make you a deal on).

Having said that, it will be interesting to see how the judges handle a contest where the public has pre-determined the winner.

aka Mycroft

The reason the Susan Boyle clip is so compelling is because it adheres so closely to the human desire to see the underdog triumph - a narrative that is a recurring element of fables going back centuries. I don't think she should be criticised for that or accused of complicity - she is not in a position of power and she has a completely reasonable desire to have her talent recognized and to make a "success" out of her life. It's even more compelling because she's a middle aged "frumpy" woman whose performance challenges sexist and lookist assumptons. (As if Britain's Got Talent couldn't afford professional hair and make up people to ensure that people looked their best for their minute in the spotlight - I'm certain Susan was left the way she was because doing so provided a better story - even if the producers weren't aware of her talent and didn't know if the story would end up being comedy or drama) The show was actually taped several weeks ago but only aired last weekend so what was aired was not a live happening but had an element of production including the selection of audience reaction shots.

Yes, she is being exploited by the media and by Simon Cowell (who owns Britain's Got Talent) who I'm sure was well aware of the great story Susan provided them and how profitable it could be to them, particularly during a period of deep recession and growing antipathy towards the elite when people are looking for working class heroes, underdogs and fairy tales.

aka Mycroft

At this point if she loses the judges will be lynched so unless the public mood changes she will win. After all, Cowell is a businessman and he's not oblivious to the fact that meeting a public demand is a good way to make coin (it must be great to own the show and be a judge on it - makes you wonder whether the whole "reality show" concept is fated to one day strike an iceberg shaped like the 1950s quiz show scandal). Reportedly he's already "negotiating" a recording contract for Susan. Let's hope a friend of hers pulls her aside and tells her to get an agent to defend her interests rather than let Cowell take care of everything for her.

remind remind's picture

Daedalus wrote:
for most of the time it's been circulating, read as a fantasy of a meritous but unrecognized individual getting the opportunity to compete with less meritous social superiors on an equal footing, and prevailing. It's difficult to read it that way today, because in a modern context, alot of things that were intended to be personal virtues are now seen to be personal failings and character flaws.

Without historical context, a modern reader has as much trouble comprehending and relating to the underlying fantasy as a Roman would have if the character were a male. To understand the essence of the story's appeal to historical audiences, it's necessary to view it in an appropriate historical context. Viewed through modern eyes it just seems archaic and barbaric, and the underlying fantasy and its tremendous appeal for two millenia cannot be comprehended.

No...for most of the time it has been circulating it has been used as an operant conditioning tool against women for patriarchy and I repeat it does not indicate prevailing on equal terms with social superiors, it depicts women as either greedy grasping and mean, or subserviant pliant objects. Hence it tremendous appeal, to men, to use against women. Which I am sure you recognize as you state  Romans would have had a hard time comprehending it if the charater were a male. That it is because of course it was geared to defame women and make them objects of service, awaiting their prince charming. As such, it is not hard to comprehend the so called "tremendous appeal" as it is pure propaganda imposed upon women over and over again throughout history by patriarchy. The damage it has done to women is significant.

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

remind wrote:

Which brings me back to  my analysis, that you are still failing to get, along with Cinderella and its negative use against women. This is the feminist forum afterall.

 I pretty much agree with you about the Cinderella story. While I do suppose that there is some analogy that can be derived from it in a metaphorical sense,  in the end of it all her victory is really still based on looks  and winning the love of the prince through having a magical makeover due to the intervention of someone else.  Sure there's aspects of her inner beauty finally being allowed to show through but it was also matched with incredible outer beauty that in the story was one of the aspects that was put down. She was an incredible beauty to start with both outwardly and inwardly.  Would the prince have been enchanted by her if she hadn't actually matched the conventions of what is outwardly beautiful as well?

At one time as a young girl I could say that this story had some meaning to me. It's great to dream of a fairy tale becoming a beautiful princess and living happily ever after. The thing with Cinderella as an example though that mean't trying to change outward appearances and station. If only I could get the right and in fashion haircut, if only I could wear the right clothes, if only I could get my makeup just right, if only I could get my body to match what society and the 'beautiful important' people (the Prince) to see me as beautiful and then fall in love with the inside, if maybe I tried to fake something I was not on the outside.  Where in the hell is my fairy godmother to help me! Gah.  This of course was well before the days of 'extreme makeover'  type shows on the tee vees. The modern day versions of a fairy godmother.

If there's a fairy tale or metaphorical story that would fit better here I would say that the 'Ugly Duckling' is a better fit. Not perfect but better. This story was one that I personally indentified a whole lot more with growing up then any of the magical makeover princess stories where success depended on some sort of magical intervention and finding that prince.  In that story the duckling didn't fit and was made to think he was ugly and weird by all those around them and felt like an outsider.  He internalized that derision and after getting beat around an firghtened decided to hide himself from the world. That hiding almost killed him. He did get some help from a farmers family but the thing was that he didn't change himself. He didn't get a makeover to try to fit into what all of those other people said he should look and be like.  In the end he discovered that the main problem was he never was a duck to begin with and was trying to be something he was not and trying to meet that ideal imposed on him.   His change came when he eventually discovered and understood who he actually was, found a place of acceptance both inwardly and outwardly and it ended up being beautiful.

 

abnormal

aka Mycroft wrote:
At this point if she loses the judges will be lynched so unless the public mood changes she will win.

I believe that the judges make the decision as to whether or not someone progresses to the next round but the final winner is a function of popular vote [pay your dollar and dial the relevant number].  However, even that is subject to manipulation simply by choosing the order the contestants appear in.  Whoever appears last has a decided advantage.

remind remind's picture

Excellent observation about a more accurate fable in respect to Ms Boyle..

Jingles

It's frightening how easily we are all manipulated by mass media. In this thread, people are getting emotionally involved in a non-event. The entertainment industry tells us what to discuss, sets the terms of the debate, and off we go.

Already the narrative has coaleseced around the theme that Ms. Boyle is the underdog for whom we must cheer, facing off against a nameless, facesless foe that strives to keep people like her (like us) down. If we depart from that view, we are either defending the patriarchy, envious and spiteful men whom hate to see women "succeed" (as if the mere appearance on that insipid two-minute hate is a success), or we just don't have the emotional depth to appreciate or understand the music. Bullshit.

It's a great example of totalitarian control. We have a manufactured event in which we must take a side; an event that is essentially meaningless and irrelevant to anyones' life.

Simon Cowel is laughing his ass off at us all, while he rolls naked upon piles and piles of cash.

remind remind's picture

Another person who does not get conceptual frameworks below the surface of this stupid show.

al-Qa'bong

remind wrote:

 

Cinderella did not have talent, she got dressed and objectified to catch a rich man.

 

I dunno, I read that she was pretty good at housework.

 

Say, does anyone here have Diana Krall or Shania Twain records?

 

Why?

Daedalus Daedalus's picture

remind wrote:
No...for most of the time it has been circulating it has been used as an operant conditioning tool against women for patriarchy

Sure, it is that too. It really shouldn't be read by children until they're old enough to take a critical view.

Quote:
That it is because of course it was geared to defame women and make them objects of service, awaiting their prince charming.

I think that's more a case of art imitating life. That was the social reality, the social model, and it was reflected in the story. I very much doubt it was consciously written as a propaganda tool. In fact, I suspect it has a basis in fact and wasn't really written at all.

It's a good criticism of the story, but a poor analysis of its appeal - you seem to be mixing the two things up. In terms of the latter, I think you're being overly ideological. It wasn't just foisted on little girls by their fathers, in fact I suspect that would've been rather unusual to say the least, and it certainly wouldn't explain why it appealed to little girls; if what you say were true, they should've regarded it as a boring, chore-like sort of thing that they endured for their parent's sake, but they do seem to have independantly enjoyed it. I imagine, in actuality, it was mostly introduced to little girls by their mothers.  Keep in mind that for about 90% of its history, most transmission would've been oral since the masses weren't literate, so its difficult even to argue that male publishers were foisting this on women until quite recently. In fact, for most of the story's history, it completely lacks the element you most object to - the fairy godmother waving her magic wand and decking the character out in fancy threads. In the original, Roman version a laundrywoman/slave loses her slipper, which somehow makes its way with her (female) owners to the Pharoah's court. Apparently he has some sort of foot fetish and decides to find the woman the slipper belongs to. A completely plausible story, so it may even have started out as a (high-profile, and possibly scandalous) real event.

I think (at least at the conscious level) it's a simple case that the fantasy had appealed to the mother as a child, and so she passed it along to her children. Although perhaps it could be argued that the mother was also passing along values with which she had been indoctrinated ... or as a socially acceptable fantasy. Or all of these things.

ElizaQ wrote:
If there's a fairy tale or metaphorical story that would fit better here I would say that the 'Ugly Duckling' is a better fit .... In the end he discovered that the main problem was he never was a duck to begin with and was trying to be something he was not and trying to meet that ideal imposed on him. His change came when he eventually discovered and understood who he actually was, found a place of acceptance both inwardly and outwardly and it ended up being beautiful.

This doesn't really strike me as resembling Ms. Boyle at all. Did she undergo any sort of personal realization prior to coming on the show? She's been singing for quite some time, she just hadn't been discovered by corporate media yet. I think the impression of transformation is part of the spectacle served up by corporate media - the frumpy middle aged woman transformed, before your very eyes, into an international star by the magic of the "Britains Got Talent" television show.

 

remind wrote:

Another person who does not get conceptual frameworks below the surface of this stupid show.

I'm getting the sense that there are some who won't tolerate any negative comment regarding this manufactured corporate spectacle (not Ms Boyle) at all, in a knee-jerk sort of fashion. Perhaps they've manage to tap into some irresistably powerful and compelling archetype and project it onto Ms Boyle ...

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

Daedalus wrote:

 

ElizaQ wrote:
If there's a fairy tale or metaphorical story that would fit better here I would say that the 'Ugly Duckling' is a better fit .... In the end he discovered that the main problem was he never was a duck to begin with and was trying to be something he was not and trying to meet that ideal imposed on him. His change came when he eventually discovered and understood who he actually was, found a place of acceptance both inwardly and outwardly and it ended up being beautiful.

This doesn't really strike me as resembling Ms. Boyle at all. Did she undergo any sort of personal realization prior to coming on the show? She's been singing for quite some time, she just hadn't been discovered by corporate media yet. I think the impression of transformation is part of the spectacle served up by corporate media - the frumpy middle aged woman transformed, before your very eyes, into an international star by the magic of the "Britains Got Talent" television show.

 

 I wasn't really talking about Ms. Boyles personal realizations or that the show was her 'transformation' point that made her 'realize' something about herself or was  something that she needed for such realization. If her actions before hand and some interviews I saw after she's well aware she's had it rough, that she isn't percieved as MSM beauty (not a duck) and none of that mattered. She just wanted to sing because she liked singing and knew she was a decent singer.    I was commenting more about using Cinderalla as a metaphor and the disscussion about the methaphorical points of that story. Namely the difference between needing to outwardly change who you are and what you look like to get the metaphorical prince (Cinderella) vs just being who you are and any change coming from within rather then without (Ugly Duckling) because it's already there and it's always been there.   Both fables have aspects of the outside world imposing their perceptions and bias and the protaganists struggling with that but in the first story Cinderella ends up meeting the expectations of the outside world in terms of changing her looks and station in a superficial magical manner and wins whereas with the ugly duckling it's more the outside world that's has the bigger problem and the 'duck' pretty much ends up the way he always was and wins.

 

 

remind remind's picture

good points Eliza, and I see exactly what you are meaning, however, feminist analysis seems beyond some people, in as much as they love to tell women that we have not been indoctrinated by patriarchial society by cinderella stories.

Daedalus Daedalus's picture

ElizaQ wrote:
Both fables have aspects of the outside world imposing their perceptions and bias and the protaganists struggling with that but in the first story Cinderella ends up meeting the expectations of the outside world in terms of changing her looks and station in a superficial magical manner and wins whereas with the ugly duckling it's more the outside world that's has the bigger problem and the 'duck' pretty much ends up the way he always was and wins.

Yeah ... you're right. It is more apt. At least, more apt than the modern version of Cinderella. In the original version there is no magical transformation at all.

 

remind wrote:
good points Eliza, and I see exactly what you are meaning, however, feminist analysis seems beyond some people, in as much as they love to tell women that we have not been indoctrinated by patriarchial society by cinderella stories.

 

I presume thats a dig at me. It's a clumsy and obvious misrepresentation, as I clearly agreed - in plain language - that women had been indoctrinated by that particular fable.

Unionist

Yes, and likewise with religious myths. And urban legends of today.

martin dufresne

Whether any Cinderella/Ugly Duckling figure is saved by hard work snd bootstraps athletics, or redeemed by accepting their true station in life - and what about The Prince and the Pauper, eh? -, these stories certainly deserve both a class analysis and an examination of who is telling them to whom, with what usual reaction and to what purpose. It is often by looking at cultural variations of similar narratives that their politics become more evident.

(Don't drop the thread, Daedalus, you'll find your way out...)

Unionist

Remind is right on IMO on this story, like other variations of "damsel in distress" and "ordinary girl makes good" by being rescued and/or finding the magic way (usually by self-objectification or self-abnegation) to appeal to the omnipotent Male. Rapunzel... Sleeping Beauty... Lot's daughters... It's the oldest form of exploitation of humans by humans, the most adaptive, and the most resistant to being defeated.

Now, I just happen to think the Susan Boyle epiphany is another variant, but I may be wrong on that.

 

remind remind's picture

No, Daedalus, you clearly stated women had indoctrinated  themselves and that women really enjoyed it, and exonerated males from having any part, not once, but twice, as follows;

Quote:
t's a good criticism of the story, but a poor analysis of its appeal - you seem to be mixing the two things up. In terms of the latter, I think you're being overly ideological. It wasn't just foisted on little girls by their fathers, in fact I suspect that would've been rather unusual to say the least, and it certainly wouldn't explain why it appealed to little girls; if what you say were true, they should've regarded it as a boring, chore-like sort of thing that they endured for their parent's sake, but they do seem to have independantly enjoyed it. I imagine, in actuality, it was mostly introduced to little girls by their mothers.  Keep in mind that for about 90% of its history, most transmission would've been oral since the masses weren't literate, so its difficult even to argue that male publishers were foisting this on women until quite recently.

making sure to cover the home front, and the publishing world and thus  wrongly trying to exonerate men from any culpability. You are  espousing premises that are completely devoid of feminist analysis, or even sociological/psychological, analysis of  indoctrination and operant conditioning of women, historically to present day, patriarchial norms.

It does not matter if it wasn't written as a indoctrination tool,  it has been used as one for a very long time, and it spawned other templates of the same sort. Man rescues poor helpless, ditsy female who cannot even keep track of time, nor her shoes, and is willingly compliant and exploitable. Then with the opposite twist of an evil woman exploiting the other woman, or being jealous, etc etc. 2 conceptual frames of reference for a woman, either evil or stupid.

Then as a male you tell me, I have poor analysis of the appeal of Cinderella and  then further tell me I am clumsy and obviously misrepresenting you, get a grip, eh, I know full well where you are coming from and the story of Cinderella in its latter day formas too! In fact, in its earliest format it was also the male rescuing the "poor" female slave, from her "female" owners.  Ya right, the Pharoh owned the women of his court, and their slaves.

 

remind remind's picture

No, Susan Boyle empowered herself to take the national stage, what happens, or happened, after that is irrespective to the initial action of hers, whereby she siezes her life and puts herself outside of her comfort zone, to take a chance on HERSELF, not a man.

Refuge Refuge's picture

I agree with Remind, ElizaQ, Unionist and anyone else that agrees with them about Cinderella.

(sarcasm) I mean when you view the story in modern times it's's easy to see how society no longer tells women they don't need to look pretty so they can attract a man and then go home and wait to be rescued by him, I mean in today's world EVERYONE knows that's bad (/sarcasm)

Please Daedalus, when you are in the feminist forum put down the keyboard and pick up the mouse so you can learn from people who live these issues.

Daedalus Daedalus's picture

remind wrote:
No, Daedalus, you clearly stated women had indoctrinated  themselves and that women really enjoyed it, and exonerated males from having any part, not once, but twice making sure to cover the home front, and the publishing world.

I never stated that women enjoyed being indoctrinated - I stated that little girls appear to have enjoyed the story of Cinderella. I very much doubt anyone even realized the sorts of things that are wrong with the story until quite recently.

Did they assist in indoctrinating their daughters? Yes. How can you find anything startling or controversial about that, when, even today, there are women who are brainwashed into promoting patriarchy and indoctrinate their daughters with it? There are plenty of women in the religious right who do just that.

I didn't exonerate males either. Or publishers. I mentioned that publishers couldn't have been behind any conspiracy to foist the story on the masses for its first 1800 years or so, because only a tiny proportion of the populace was literate. That doesn't exonerate them from the last couple of centuries. It just notes a factual impossibility.

Quote:
You are  espousing premises that are completely devoid of feminist analysis, or even sociological/psychological, analysis of  indoctrination and operant conditioning of women, historically, to present day, patriarchial norms.

No, I'm putting things in historical context. You're trying to apply a modern feminist perspective to historical populations who didn't have one. They didn't understand or perceive the elements of the story that way. In fact, the elements that we find so offensive didn't even exist until the story was about 1700 years old. They're quite recent.

Your analysis of its flaws is fine, but it really doesn't offer anything in the way of explanation for why the story persisted for so long. It has a history in European culture that is older than the Bible. I don't think it's exceptional among many other folk myths which persisted for a similar length of time (such as the Tortoise and the Hair). You certainly haven't provided any reason why it would be, other than your desire to perceive it that way.

Quote:
It does not matter if it was written as a indoctrination tool, it has been used as one for a very long time

Yes, it definately has always been an indoctrination tool, but it originally had a very different purpose.

Quote:
In fact, in its earliest format it was also the male rescuing the "poor" female slave, from her "female" owners. Ya right, the Pharoh owned the women of his court, and their slaves.

 In its original form, its actually a dig on the supposedly superstitious and barbaric nature of the Egyptians. The heroine is a Greco-Roman slave and the story is meant for a Greco-Roman audience; obviously . She gets abused at the hands of the dirty Egyptians until one day she loses a slipper, a bird snatches it, and drops it in the lap of the Pharoah. He thinks the bird is Horus and it's a sign from heaven. He's no Prince Charming - he's a supersititous cretin with a foot fetish, and he seizes her as his queen. She is attributed with building the pyramids during this time - before she charms a merchant, relieves him of his gold, and flees back to Greece where she takes up a life as a hetaera, who were independant, educated women - they were courtesans, but they also took part in academic gatherings as scholars.

It's a comical polemic that employs stereotypes to take a shot at Egyptians and promote ideas of Roman cultural and moral superiority. The heroine represents Greco-Roman civilization enduring and outwitting the stupid Egyptians and eventually going on to demonstrate their superiority in engineering, academia, cleverness, etc etc.

So, yes, I find your sophomoric and dogmatic interpretation of the historical context to the story severely lacking.

al-Qa'bong

Say whatever you want, but this Susan Boyle business is good TV and is bound to sell many viewers to advertisers.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Yep.  Bums in seats.

Nice to see something uplifting via reality tv for a change.

Now, if you really want a discussion on feminism/patriarchy/sexism and reality tv, try The Cougar on for size. 

ETA:  Link!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEW8bZ5_S2E

torontoprofessor

Suppose that a plain middle-aged woman with cats got up and sang -- showing courage, pluck, fortitude, charm -- and just sounded ordinary: a little off-key, not too awful, sort of like a middling karaoke singer. Would we still be as impressed by her courage as we are in this case? (We should be.) Would we count her as role model for women everywhere?

Refuge Refuge's picture

torontoprofessor wrote:

Suppose that a plain middle-aged woman with cats got up and sang -- showing courage, pluck, fortitude, charm -- and just sounded ordinary: a little off-key, not too awful, sort of like a middling karaoke singer. Would we still be as impressed by her courage as we are in this case? (We should be.) Would we count her as role model for women everywhere?

Smile

Thankyou torontoprofessor, I have been trying to figure out what it is that bothers me about the world's reaction to this event in particular and to others that are similar.  You just nailed it.

Star Spangled C...

torontoprofessor wrote:

Suppose that a plain middle-aged woman with cats got up and sang -- showing courage, pluck, fortitude, charm -- and just sounded ordinary: a little off-key, not too awful, sort of like a middling karaoke singer. Would we still be as impressed by her courage as we are in this case? (We should be.) Would we count her as role model for women everywhere?

Impressed with her courage, perhaps, yes. But what's impressive about Susan Boyle isn't  that she she had the courage to get up and sign in front of a large audience. Plenty of completely talentless people get up and sing on American Idol-type shows and make fools of themselves. What makes Susan Boyle a role model and worthy of admiration is that she obviously worked incredibly hard to develop that level of talent through many years of practice. There were no doubt many people who discouraged her, told her she'd never make it, that she was wasting her time but she refused to give up or to let her dream die and had that drive to succeed.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Is that the sound of feminist and mass media analysis whooshing over SSC's head?

Star Spangled C...

Is is "un-feminist" to commend a women for saying "screw you" to all of the naysayers and steadfastly pursuing her dream?

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