20090420

Who wants to Sing?

Susan Boyle is a great singer and now very famous. She is also old and homely.

Everyone and their twin brother has been dissecting her miraculous conversion of an obviously skeptical and even hostile audience into a standing ovation complete with tears of pure bliss. The judges themselves noted this, and seemed chastened by their personal failure to look past the book's cover. The event has been called a real life fable.

I have, however, the unique perspective of having read a week's worth of commentary before watching the video. That hasn't made the video less inspiring or heartwarming, but has tempered my measure of it's after affects. Susan Boyle will no doubt become as famous and lauded as her cited idol. Given the momentum she has picked up, and her obvious skill, it's assured. Unfortunately, the world will still think ugly, awkward people are naturally untalented and should be ignored.

We need another 10 Susan Boyles at least. The good news is that every talent agency and TV show will now be looking for them in order to duplicate the incredible phenomena, and television viewers across the globe will be as well. The bad news is if they find too many everyone will probably get a little tired of ugly people surprising them by actually having talent.

Even with the good news, I don't find myself particularly hopeful. Vogue won't really see their subscriptions or sales drop, ugly newscasters aren't going to crop up, and supermodels aren't going to find themselves starving and out of a job (just starving).

I'm not trying to rain on anyone's parade, but Susan Boyle isn't going to singlehandedly change how people think about being ugly anymore than Barack Obama was going to magically fix the economy, the world's opinion of the nation, and all our other problems just by being elected.

8 comments:

360 Trooper said...

The problem with prejudices is that, no matter how much you may soften them, they will always be there. Having watched the video, the reason we won't be losing these stereotypes about ugly people is because these stereotypes exist in the first place. It's a sad fact of human nature that we will always be surprised when the ugly person turns out to be talented. History has provided us with 10,000 examples of talented geniuses who were, let's be honest, pug fugly. And we're still surprised when they pop up.

Phyvo said...

I think one interesting thing that was pointed out to me about this, though, is that Simon in Britain is actually a pretty nice guy. But in America he is the judge who tears people apart until they cry.

We love seeing people torn down. I think it's as unhealthy as our tolerance of, or perhaps fascination with, violence.

kalliope said...

Prejudices. Something, that will not go away, ever. We all have our agenda, and, let's face it, we all prefer eating a nice looking cake rather one that looks like it has been eaten once already.
The "good" thing is, that it's possible to use this, especially as a woman. And it is not a secret that looking good can help. If you prove to have some talent, you're on to a winner.
It's only about a first impression, you can go on and dress down for example afterwards, but the first impression has to be good. This is something, everyone (unless they are actually struck with some tragic illness) can do something about, but mostly they do things for the worse. If people think that they can walk around without washing themselves and their clothes, wearing skirts, jeans or tops that are 3 sizes too small for them because they like it - fair enough. But - and this also applies to people who actually are very slim but also make this mistake - if they want to look like a tied up salami, then this implies that they cannot even apply the simplest logic of choosing the correct size, i.e. they lack the ability to judge things correctly. This again adds to the prejudice that someone who looks like this, is stupid.

Same goes for people who don't do their hair - they look like they don't care about themselves, so probably not for others either or about how to make a good impression on others. this may affect the ability to present products to potential clients properly, etc etc etc.

Personally, I do both... i love dressing up every once in a while, but running around in a tight shirt with baggy pants is just as awesome.

and this just got a bit out of hand.

360 Trooper said...

You say it's something anyone without a tragic illness can do something about. I've seen some horse-faced girls that nothing short of extensive plastic surgery could ever hope to fix.

Not to bash on the beautiful people, but some things can't be fixed by personal effort. It's like those Horatio Alger stories where the poor man pulls himself up by his bootstraps. And then we remember that the story was written by an upper-middle class WASP male in a time when the working class was a step away from becoming slave labor.

I think, for the purposes of prejudices, I was lucky to have grown up around some naturally ugly people. It's not an issue of hair, clothes, or hygiene. Nothing will change the fact that some people look like the illegitimate offspring of barnyard animals. And I am not judging their character or abilities (okay, ChickenGirl was a bit bitchy), I'm just saying that they were grossly unattractive.

It is worse for women. They can use this and be abused by this far more than men will. But what I'm trying to say is that some things can't be fixed with effort by any one person.

kalliope said...

I disagree with you on this one. I'm not raving on about beauty pageants or something along the lines - there is always a way to underline the good things people have (and everyone does have good features) to make the bad ones less significant. Sometimes, alone the choice of the colour for eye shadow (yeah, that's girl specific, I know) can do wonders.
Thinking in terms of prejudice... I can't say I am ugly or anything, but for 12 years I have been ridiculed at school for looking "very weird" and such, so I do know what it is like to be laughed at and avoided/ignored. I am friends with people who are by far no beauty queens or kings, and none of my ex boyfriends was handsome at all. They managed to shine otherwise. However, all of them could have done something about it, but they didn't care.

When it comes to hiring people, it depends on the position. Is it for back end programming? Looks should not matter at all (and normally they don't, at least where I used to work so far. Some of them even didn't manage to take a shower or wash their clothes yet, that is a bit disgusting...). Representation, marketing, stage moderation...? If I want to market something, looks are important, not just contents. After all, it's your eye that makes contact first.
Guess why most pop stars are scantily clothed? ;)

360 Trooper said...

We've run into a fundamental difference in our approaches to the world. Both of us recognize a prejudice. But while I see an injustice (for lack of a better term) that should be corrected, you see a fact of life to be worked around. I'll admit it's a pragmatic view, and what I'm about to say is a rather melodramatic comparison, but one of these approaches lead to the civil rights movement and the other was just apathetic.

kalliope said...

Well, you can do both.
Personally, you can abuse the prejudice. But also, you can help make things a bit different by, when employing people yourself, not going by looks at all. That's how I do it. But in first place I take care of my own career, because if I don't, others will run me over. Harsh as it may sound, but it is a damn cruel world, especially in "my" industry.

However, you seem to be an interesting person to talk to.

Aikonar said...

I have nothing but a literary comment to make. I believe the word you were hoping to use in the first paragraph was "homely."

Comely is an attractive individual. I am assuming that you mean to say that Mrs. Boyle is not attractive.

-Aikonar