If you’ve spent any time on the internet this week, you’ve probably seen clips of, or at least heard of Susan Boyle (If not, watch the clip of her performance here), and her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” on “Britain’s Got Talent.”
The Today Show describes her as “47, unemployed, lives alone with her cat and has never had a date or been kissed.” Her appearance lines up with this stereotypical description. So, when she walked out on stage the audience snickered and cringed, and apparently had zero expectations.
When she started singing and people realized she actually had a voice, everyone went nuts. The judges are described as “gaping in disbelief.” The audience went crazy. The internet has been abuzz with talk of the performance. She has received more than 20 million clicks on YouTube.
I’m intrigued by people’s reaction to her. It all seems a tad weird to me. Don’t get me wrong—she really does have an amazing voice. It’s nice that people are taking notice of her talent. She should certainly be recognized for her abilities. But why are people so touched and surprised? Why so shocked? Because someone who doesn’t look like a model actually has talent?
Doesn’t it seem a little insulting? What does this say about our society? About the music world? I might be wrong about this, but I imagine if she were younger and better looking the internet wouldn’t be buzzing quite so much.
On the other hand, I’m intrigued by the extent of many people’s reaction. Why do so many people say they actually cried while watching the clip? Have our expectations of the art/entertainment world become cynical, even resigned? Does the recognition of Boyle’s talent provide some momentary relief from the typical, superficial requirements of our culture?
In any case, I hope Boyle will not just serve to give us a touching underdog story, but as a reminder—however brief—that music is an art form, and that artists come in many shapes.