Well, if you haven’t been on Mars for the past few weeks, you have experienced the performance of what some call the “Spectacular Spinster,” Susan Boyle from somewhere in Scotland. She brashly wowed not just the crowd but the judges of “Britain’s Got Talent,” with her spectacular voice and her interpreted version of “I Dream a Dream” from Les Mis. I watched it myself and within four bars found tears streaming down my face. From the hullabaloo ever since, my experience was not a singular one, but joined by say a billion or so others.
Inspirational? You bet. But the question is “Why?”
Rather than wax scholastically, let me quote a quite-fine blogger, David Marchese from The Spin Blog, (http://new.music.yahoo.com/blogs/spin/4911/why-susan-boyle-doesnt-matter/), who grasps the wrong answer from his deep pool of cynicism, even as he cites the right evidence.
Why Susan Boyle Doesn’t Matter
Posted Mon Apr 27, 2009:
“…We’re dealing with an ugly duckling tale. That’s it. Susan Boyle is by conventional pop standards, unattractive, but sings like an angel, and her notoriety, as the thinking goes, is thus a heartwarming rebuke to an entertainment culture that far too often values looks rather than skill. If this episode sounds familiar, it’s because it is–Britain’s Got Talent spawned the exact same story two years ago when Paul Potts, a stocky cell-phone store manager, won the competition on the strength of his renditions of tenor arias like “Nessun Dorma.” Your mother may have emailed you about him.
Of course, fairy tales are fiction. (Emphasis mine) Potts’ success did not result in a radical restructuring of show business norms (though his debut album, One Chance, did go double platinum in the U.K.)–extremely attractive entertainers are still more likely to get the good gigs. Susan Boyle’s moment will have a similarly unremarkable effect. For all the back patting (see, we’re not superficial!) her moment has allowed us to indulge in, the fact remains that popular entertainment is largely about helping us escape the mundane, whether it’s for two hours or the length of a YouTube clip. And it’s a lot easier to do that when the person doing the entertaining doesn’t look like a crazy cat lady who lives next door. Right now Susan Boyle is an exception. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking she’s going to be the rule.”
Marchese believes that fairy tales (like “The Ugly Duckling”) were made up by ill-meaning story trolls to make ugly people feel good. But they aren’t, they are teaching stories, very close to mythology that cite archetypes of reality, in most cases to give us hope that there is something fundamentally right about our world. As such, they are universal. (There are over 200 versions of Cinderella, from nearly as many cultures.)
Susan Boyle inspires us. This is real, not made up, and it is the stuff of hopes and dreams and a belief that we too can become who we are, despite the seemingly over-powering forces of selfishness and cynicism. Even Marchese acknowledges the star-power of Paul Potts, Britain’s other telephone-store-to-platinum-record phenom.
The next time you blow off a fairy tale, Mr. Marchese, consider Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter and Paul Potts more carefully. They were actually pretty popular.
Susan Boyle is the Rocky Balboa of the singing world right now, and we are cheering for her to knock the crap out of the conventional locked-in phony world of Show-Biz. Yep, it’s a fairy tale.
You go girl.