17 April 2009


A couple days ago, I watched the video clip from "Britain's Got Talent", in which Susan Boyle wowed the judges with her rendition of "I Dreamed A Dream" from Les Misérables. In case you've been living under a rock the past week, here is the clip with the actual song beginning at the 1:44 mark.

Ms. Boyle has been the darling of the Internet ... aye, the world even ... based on this simple Google search. Why, she even already has her own Wikipedia page. Her voice has been described as "angelic", "pitch perfect", and "breathtaking".

I have to admit that the first time I watched the video, I was incredibly impressed as well. But upon further viewing, I realized that I had fallen for one of the oldest tricks in the book.

See, Ms. Boyle isn't what a great number of us would call attractive. I get the impression that this self admitted "never been kissed" woman might not be the most socially adept person in her hometown of Blackburn, Scotland. It is for these reasons, her homely looks and her awkward manners, that we have been duped into believing her talents to be more than they really are.

What we see in Ms. Boyle is a bit of ourselves. We see our own commonness. We see our own wish to achieve a dream. We see our own hope to pursue that which we love. And in seeing part of ourselves in her, we elevate her own abilities higher than they truly are. Don't get me wrong. Ms. Boyle has a nice voice. I would even go as far as to say it's lovely. But "angelic"? "Pitch perfect"? "Breathtaking"? Hardly. She is simply enjoying the fruits of exceeding the very low expectations we had of her upon first impression.

These aren't sour grapes. Nor am I trying to tear Ms. Boyle down. I simply want things to be kept in perspective. The world had done her no favors by mocking her appearance before and it continues to do her no favors by exaggerating her talents now.

I sincerely wish her the best as she moves forward in this competition. I even hope she wins the whole enchilada. But let's not fool ourselves here ... she isn't going to be the next Elaine Page.

1 comment:

Raspberry Delusions said...

100% in agreement. Until I actually saw the whole video on YouTube, all I heard and saw were the snippets on the news shows that purposely cut out the less-angelic portions of her singing. I'll admit, I was definitely surprised, mostly because she reminded me of Curly from the 3 Stooges in drag. But visual revulsion aside, her voice is nice, forceful, and melodic.

However, I disagree with the view that what we see in her is our own "commonness." I think people were surprised, and people like pleasant surprises. At the end of the day, the very same reason that mocked her will be the one to knock her down: her looks. It's going to be difficult for her to ever re-image herself into a product that will sell outside of the blind community. She should take it from me, I know firsthand :-P