Overheard on Twitter
Susan Boyle: Her Talent and Her Looks
Why are we so amazed by her?
-April Daniels Hussar @aprilhussar
When I first saw the video of Susan Boyle on America’s Got Talent, I, like many others, burst into tears. Not just damp eyes, we’re talking serious sobs. I’ll hand it to the producers: They played on our emotions perfectly– cutting to the snarkiest, most disdainful-looking people in the audience, building up our anxiety perfectly before she started to sing. And when Susan Boyle did start to sing–when she opened up and let loose something so pure and rich and lovely–the tears, oh, they flowed.
But why, exactly?
Since that episode aired, of course, Susan Boyle has become one of those proverbial “overnight sensations.” The more I read about Susan Boyle, the more I hear people talking about her or posting about her on Twitter and Facebook, the more I wonder….What is it exactly that was so moving about her performance and her story? Isn’t there something, well, a little patronizing and condescending to all this adoration? Am I being patronizing? Is it really so freaking amazing to think “someone like her” could have a voice like that?
Over the weekend, this tweet from one of my favorite mommy bloggers struck a chord:
@mommymelee Instead of apologizing to Susan Boyle, shouldn’t we (they? everyone?) be apologizing to every woman who looks just like her and CAN’T sing?
And really, to me, that just sums it up.
Yes, Susan Boyle doesn’t look like Britney Spears. She doesn’t look like the alarmingly ageless, fiercely toned Madonna. She doesn’t look like a “Real Housewife”–she looks more like a…real housewife. And so what? Why should it be so INCREDIBLE to us that her talent doesn’t come pre-packaged in a slick Disney-approved wrapper? Why is it understood that we obviously didn’t expect much of her when she came onstage? Why was it understandable that people snickered and laughed?
And–most important–if Susan Boyle hadn’t been a very good singer, would she have then deserved the dismissal so many were quick to hand her?
Something else that needs to be said: When I read that Amanda Holden vowed, “I won’t let Simon Cowell give her a Hollywood makeover!” I wanted to scream. According to Amanda, Susan Boyle “needs to stay exactly as she is because that’s the reason we love her….The minute we turn her into a glamourpuss is when it’s spoilt.”
Screw you, Amanda! What if Susan wants a makeover? What is she, some kind of mascot or trick pony? I would want a “Hollywood makeover” if I had the chance–why shouldn’t she? Nothing will be “spoiled,” because it’s not about her hair and it’s not about her eyebrows; it’s about her voice and her spirit.
I’m rooting for you Susan Boyle. Not because of the way you look, or don’t look, but because all this time you have had this dream, this ability–and now you’re 47 and you’ve been given the chance of a lifetime–the opportunity to realize that dream, to share yourself, to move people with the exquisiteness of your God-given talent. And if it sounds like fun to get a makeover–go for it! Why shouldn’t you? And if you don’t want to, then don’t. Because what most of us have fallen in love with is YOU–your voice, your story, your dream.
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