First. allow me to admit my admiration for and surprise by the sounds that emitted from Ms. Boyle’s seemingly matronly larynx when she bravely appeared in front of the nefarious Simon Cowell et al, on a program similar to one I’ve never watched. This very act exposed Boyle to all manner of potential cruelty from the likes of Cowell, whose stock and trade is playing Roman Emperor, callously undoing people willing to do most anything to get a break. That Cowell cooed despite Boyle’s unremarkable appearance, devoid of gimmicks, theatrics, costuming, etc.– because of the sublime beauty that is her voice is a testament to her ample gifts.
One of my criticisms of “American Idol” and its ilk is that they promote some of the worst aspects of our culture, our obsession with youth, beauty and flamboyance, which encourages excess among performers: gimmickry, over-singing, over-interpreting, over-performing and a generally over-the-top stage presence that is often the key to earning high praise from judges as well as voters. I also think that those chosen to participate don’t accurately represent our true populace.
Don’t get me wrong, such programs have “tokens.” There are token ordinary folks, token “older” folks, token “fat” folks but by and large, lithe, young, attractive performers grace AI’s stage. The underlying message seems to be if you’re older, ordinary, frumpy or average looking, if you can’t dance and smile as dazzlingly as you sing, despite your voice, you’ll likely be voted off the island (oops-I’m mixing up shows I’ve never watched). So to see Susan Boyle, to hear her back-story, to experience her lovely, pure voice makes her seem more an oddity than an entertainer–a singing “frog” if you will (no cultural/geographic reference intended).
My point is, the world has millions of “Susan Boyles” and most never get the opportunity to display their gifts vis-a-vis “American Idol” or similar forum. Our preoccupation with appearance makes us amazed when someone as ordinary looking as Ms. Boyle proves to be, in fact, extraordinary. We’re simply slack-jawed.
I applaud Ms. Boyle’s success, praise her BRILLIANT gift but despise the values that make the Susan Boyles of this world seem so amazing. Every day, ordinary people do exceptional things, yet because they look or act unspectacular, they are ignored. Every so often we need a Susan Boyle to show us how shallow-as well as how special we really are.
PS: Susan, PLEASE sing other songs! PLEASE. I love your voice and even the song at first but it’s become a knitting needle in one ear, clean through my grey matter and out the other side. I beg of you- PLEASE sing a different song, SOON.
And that’s all I have to say about that.