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April 17, 2009

I know you have seen THAT video. It is viral. Super viral. I got it in my e-mail numerous times and it has surfaced on two of my siblingsblogs. I’ll just come out and say it: I have a problem with this video. No really, I have two problems with the video. I know you can’t wait to find out, so straight to number 1:

1. Please indulge me and at least sample each of these videos. Focus on the intro and the commentary after the performance:




(Sorry–embedding has been disabled all over the internet)

Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent
Uploaded by dwarthy

(And by the way, if this was America’s Got Talent, these three would have been sining Mariah Carey–that is about as classic as we get).

See any similarities? The hard-luck story, the skeptical interviews, the girl judge aghast, Piers nodding, eyes a-twinkle, slack-jawed Simon, teary audience members, crying judge, crowd won over, and judges tripping over themselves to say how surprised they are. Doesn’t it become significantly less charming now that it is so clearly formulaic? Surely when you hold such a competition, you cannot actually be surprised when people with talent appear, can you? It’s TV–the drama is in the unexpected, so tear them down and then when they go against the expectations established, you love it, and you’ll tune in for the finals. Suckers.

2. My second problem is not with the actual video, but rather with the reaction to it. People love it, I guess, because of the dichotomy between their expectations and the actual results of the performance. And of course, the expectations are set by a 30 second interview, so it is basically set on Susan’s appearance. Just why is it so unbelievable that someone who is not magazine-ready might have talent? Surely we can accept that not all talented individuals look like models, can’t we? Or have we hidden the plain and homely away from sight for so long that we forgot they might have something to offer?

Don’t get me wrong: Susan has a nice voice, and she seems like an interesting and even fun person–I hold nothing against her. But people talk about her as if she is an elephant woman. She is a regular person with a particular talent.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Lindsay permalink
    April 17, 2009 6:36 pm

    I think the difference was her personality. In the first two they were pretty quiet and lacking confidence. Susan was weird and confident, and had not been for the build up (which made me assume that she actually was good) I probably would have expected her to be awful as well.

  2. esodhiambo permalink*
    April 17, 2009 8:18 pm

    Apparently, most people DID expect her to be awful–that is what I am complaining about.

  3. Amanda permalink
    April 18, 2009 8:50 pm

    I’m with Lindsay. People expected her to be bad because she was odd…talking about her cat Pebbles, swaying her hips…And as I am new to YouTube, this is the first time I’ve seen the other two…which thank you, clarifys something Lorna was telling me the other day. However, with her accent, she ket saying “Pol Pot” and you can imagine why I had a hard time comparing Susan Boyle to a Cambodian dictator…

  4. esodhiambo permalink*
    April 18, 2009 9:42 pm

    Again, is it unthinkable that an artist/talent might be quirky? I think not.

  5. esodhiambo permalink*
    April 18, 2009 9:46 pm

    And for the record: Susan Boyle could TOTALLY be a dictator, she just needs to switch musicals to Evita.

  6. Amy permalink
    April 20, 2009 4:26 pm

    I like the clip because you see Simon smile so much, and that is rare on American Idol. I also much prefer the 2 hosts to Ryan Seacrest. Why does everything seem so much more charming and likeable when spoken with a British accent?

  7. esodhiambo permalink*
    April 20, 2009 8:46 pm

    Well, almost anyone could be a better host than Jerry Springer, right?

    And my question is this: with both Piers and Simon on one panel, who gets to be the jerk?

  8. Amanda permalink
    April 21, 2009 11:41 pm

    In response to your comment after mine: No, really most people probably don’t expect a 48-year-old woman in that type of dress with that type of oddness about her to be talented. Sorry, but that’s the truth. It was a very happy surprise. I think the juxtaposition of her, her oddities and her beautiful voice are what has made, and will continue to make her, a star.

  9. Meg permalink
    April 23, 2009 12:39 am

    I expected her to be good (mostly because I’ve seen the opera guy’s clip before), but I didn’t really like her once he got on stage. I didn’t like the audience’s reaction to her, either, though… And I agree with Lindsay. That kind of confidence on stage is often followed by a bad performance.

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