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The internet has been all abuzz with Susan Boyle. If you are the one person left who is saying, “Who the fuck is Susan Boyle?” – she is a contestant on Britain’s Got Talent. She is a dowdy 47 year old woman who, in a pre-performance interview, admits that she has never been on a date, never been kissed.
She comes out on stage to perform and talks to the judges, telling them she always wanted to be a professional singer. While the judges roll their eyes and look disgusted, the entire audience laughs at her.
The she starts to sing and she is incredible. She blows everyone away. Within a couple notes, the judges’ faces completely change – the audience is screaming and on their feet. The hosts are asking, “You didn’t expect that, did you?” It’s all framed as a “Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” story and it’s touching and sweet and warm and fuzzy.
After I saw the video, I just wanted to say, “Are you fucking kidding me??
Everyone in that video, other than Susan, came off as a COMPLETE FUCKING WANKER!! I’m not touched or moved by that. I’m disgusted. I’m disgusted and embarrassed that we – as a society – are so caught up in how people look that we associate appearance with everything – intelligence, success, character, and now talent.
I get that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Hell – I just wrote an entire post about that. But I will admit, I can see how it happens sometimes. Not that it’s right, but it’s understandable. For instance – when someone is dressed shabbily, you might make assumptions about his wealth or success. This is the very thing I wrote about in my “Need” post (only backwards). It’s wrong, but I can see how one thing might logically point to another.
But when we start judging peoples character and personality and morality and intelligence based on their physical appearance, we’re getting into dangerous territory. And worse than judging is actually acting on it – in this case – laughing and mocking her. It hurts. I’ve been there. I am overweight now, but I grew up thin. I gained weight in my twenties and then lost it all again. Then gained. Then lost. You get the picture. And I can tell you in all honesty, that people treat you differently when you are more attractive (in my case – thinner). People are friendlier. Salespeople are more helpful. When I was thin – they couldn’t wait to help me. With extra weight? They barely look my way, and they are sometimes downright disdainful. When you are thin, you can eat and entire 12 course meal with no hands and no one cares. Try eating a funnel cake when you are fat and see the looks you get. When you are what society has decided is unattractive, people assume you are stupid and lazy and boring and – most of all – unworthy. Unworthy of kindness, or friendship, of courtesy, of respect.
But hair color and tattoos and clothing style and skin color and weight and boob size have nothing to do with who that person is inside, and most people would agree it was wrong to assume differently (even if their actions speak otherwise). So why, then, is this video different? Why should I be “moved” because a bunch of assholes were impressed by someone’s talent?
Why on Earth should I be surprised by her performance? Why would the hosts assume that “I wasn’t expecting that?” I wasn’t aware that talent and physical beauty/youth/big boobs/whatever were somehow related. And regardless of how surprised everyone was, regardless of how they cheered and applauded and complimented her after she sang? What matters is what happened before she sang, when she was treated like a joke – something to be mocked and not taken seriously.
And now she’s being lauded and paraded all over the internet and TV and newspapers and magazines while everyone involved pats themselves on the back for the “inspiration” of it all. But meanwhile, this treatment is no better than the boos and jeers that she got before she ever opened her mouth – it’s focusing not on her talent, but on her appearance. It’s like an old-time freakshow – “Look – the beast can sing! Put down your pitchforks – the monster is worthy!” So what does that say? That it’s OK to mock and ridicule the ugly or fat or tall or short or black or white or bald or disabled person, as long as they don’t have a special talent?
I hope Susan Boyle milks this for all it’s worth. I hope something good comes out of this for her. And then I hope she tells the whole world to fuck the hell off.
Here is the video, in case you’ve missed it (it can’t be embedded)