Wednesday, April 15, 2009
This video has gone viral*, so you've probably seen it already. If you haven't, watch it now.
If you have, maybe you had the same reaction to it that I did. Watching this video made me bawl. Not a polite little trickle of tears but a full-blown sobbing meltdown.
It's not just because Susan Boyle has an amazing voice, though she does. It's not just because the poshly hateful judges on the U.K.'s version of American Idol got their expectations upset, though they did, and I was thrilled about it.
It's because this video highlights--painfully, vividly, undeniably--just how far our obsession with appearance extends, and how much we punish one another and ourselves for how we look.
Watching this reminded me all too viscerally of how I felt about myself as a teenager and young woman: Unattractive, and ashamed of it. Hideous outside and, therefore, inside too. I've grown up since then, thank goodness. I've made peace with myself both inside and out. I no longer feel hideously unattractive (though there are moments). Most of all, I think--I hope--I've learned to temper my own judgmentalism about other people based on how they look.
I cried partly in awe of Susan Boyle's sassy spirit. She didn't creep onto that stage; she took it over. I love how she blows kisses at the audience on her way out--she might have given them all the finger, but she's much classier than that.
Do yourself a favor. Give this a look. Think about it.
*Normally I would have embedded the video, but YouTube is preventing it from being embedded. I wonder why.
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I had much the same reaction to that video as you!
Whomever posts videos on YouTube can choose to allow it to be embedded or not. I don't know if YouTube disabled embedding or if whomever uploaded it did.
Thanks for this post. I'm not very connected to the TV world so I would probably have missed ...
Good for her and her sassy attitude, confidence and ability. The fact that the expectation before she sang was low and she turned that expectation totally upside down 10 seconds into the song is wonderful. It is too bad that the early expectation was set based on her appearance. If a few people learned to change their views based on this then it is a total success...
Thanks for the post...
I haven't had a chance to watch the video yet, but I wanted you to know that the UK had "Pop Idol" (the original idol series) before the States had "American Idol", so this show isn't just a version of a tv show that the US stole from Britain in the first place!
Wow. She has a beautiful voice and a beautiful spirit. She is a beautiful woman. I hate how we are all so judged by our outer appearance. Like you, I've struggled with accepting myself as I am. This low self-esteem is what initially triggered my anorexia. I know that's not the cause of eating disorders, but emphasis on thinness and outward appearance in our culture doesn't help. (I shed a few tears watching that video, too!)
I think it's actually part of the '...Got Talent' series, also created by Simon Cowell. I doubt that Susan Boyle would even have gotten onto the stage for Pop Idol, but the Britain's Got Talent format is more forgiving. The first winner was Paul Potts, a fat singer who belted out opera songs.
Ah, I loved seeing that so damn much, thank you for sharing it here, too.
One note though - this isn't on Pop Idol (the model on which American Idol is based). It's Britain's Got Talent, which isn't about singing, necessarily: the people are competing for a spot on the Royal Variety Show, and thus can do anything as long as it's entertaining. Basically, they're competing to perform for the Queen.
I stand corrected--than you!
Great piece, Harriet. And in addition to the snarky judges, I also found those backstage commenters--I don't know who the guys were, stage hands of some kind--really derisive and offensive. Glad everybody there got a little reeducation!
Tears here too! I love when someone sings and god's voice shines through.
I also love her attitude and the little shake she gave them. I hope those with the eyes rolling felt at least a wee bit of shame after.
thanks for sharing this Harriet.
An older recording she did of "Cry me a river" is getting some notice now--it's fantastic.
Thanks Jane - the other song is absolutely wonderful too. Joan, the gruesome twosome "stage hands" like to think of themselves as something special here in the UK - their names are Ant and Dec and they often introduce reality/talent shows etc.
I agree with all of you. It was such a stirring performance and it is a shame that we have become so focused on the appearance of singers that we fail to look past it and look for true talent. It makes me sad to think that even after her discovery she may still end up doing behind the scenes work in a recording studio. And I think of what I've heard people ask before, would some talented popular musicians of the past have been voted off a show like American Idol because of their looks? Even Ella Fitzgerald was turned down by a big band because of her appearance.
Also, what struck me was the song she chose to sing, Fantine's "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables, which is one of my most favorite musicals. It is a song about regret and dreams that never came true. And in a world where looks are everything, I am sure there are many dreams that Susan Boyle had that were denied to her because of how she looks. You can really feel her pain when she sings this song.
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