Monday, 1 June 2009

Poor Susan!

Clinic tends to Boyle

Unless you've been living under an especially big rock for the past few months (or working in a Vodaphone call centre, apparently), you probably know about Susan Boyle. A Britain's got Talent contestant who was launched into World Wide Superstardom because she's not as attractive as most crap singers. Not that she is a crap singer, but apparently, she should be crap. Because she's ugly, and only pretty people can sing. There's some mythical equation in the music and entertainment industry, where attractiveness is directly proportional to performing talent. Also, as with most British Reality talent contests these days, there's a category of contestants which doesn't exist officially but blatantly does. Not sure what they're called, but to understand what I'm talking about, remember that in the 18/19th centuries, wealthy folks used to visit mental asylums, where the patients were prodded and stared at, purely as entertainment.
Britain's Got Talent, X-factor and other shite like that, they offer do the same thing, only you don't have to leave your home and the inmates haven't been diagnosed yet. Susan Boyle looks like she should have been one of these, but she wasn't you see, she could actually do a bit of singing. Thing is, she could still have been mad and recent evidence suggests she still is, but she doesn't look nice in the traditional sense.
The first wave of publicity was about how inspirational she was. She was an ugly woman who showed that you didn't have to be attractive to be talented. Nobody actually ever thought that, I've never heard anyone ever say that, but it's nice to be told what we are thinking by the media groups who decide what we are thinking on our behalf when they make things we watch or buy.
I always found it ironic that they kept mentioning how she defied our appearance obsessed culture by being so ugly. That this ugly, hideous, shambling, hairy, grotesque woman, and God she's rancid, should be able to sing, despite looking like the Rancor's mother, well that shows how appearance obsessed everyone except the media is. Hmm...
But yeah. She didn't win, apparently. She came second. But the pressures she's experienced, which must admittedly been insane, has driven her to the Priory. People seemed surprised that a 50+ spinster who seems mentally unsound and has never left her village in Scotland would be badly affected by the most intense media scrutiny anyone's ever experienced. Nobody saw it coming, apparently. Except anyone with any know how.
That's why the BBC did the article linked above. What the experts say about the way she was treated. There's some suspicion that reality TV may be exploiting people. In other news, Earth goes round the Sun. But the article itself seems to be very media-biased to me, even the Government funded BBC. Note how all the TV pundits and pop psychologists get big sections with photos, and the true experts get seven or eight lines and no pics at all. Interestingly, the pop psychologists seem far more supportive of Britain's Got Talent producers etc., (you don't bite the hand that feeds you I suppose), whereas the real experts are more scathing, or as much as you can be with seven short lines to get your point across.
It could be argued that the pop psychologists have TV experience and a media profile, whereas the others do not, so they are less able to make a punchy, concise argument for mass consumption. Why, then, does Charlie Brooker, by far the most famous person in the article, get a seriously reduced section? And no pic? He's also the most critical of the media involvement in her breakdown too, weird that.

On a finishing note, I find it very appropriate that Britain's Got Talent, a show supposedly displaying the best of all that is British, is sponsored by Domino's Pizza; An American Business selling Italian Cuisine staffed largely by middle-eastern or East European immigrants. If that doesn't symbolise the multi-cultural Britain I know, nothing does.

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