Saturday, April 18, 2009

Right For All The Wrong Reasons

Not since Chocolate Rain has the Innertubes seen a bigger feel-good-story-cum-meme than that of Susan Boyle. My genuine hope is that Ms. Boyle is able to translate her 15 minutes into a modest singing career. By all measures that matter, she deserves it.

But here's the rub: parts of her story makes me damned angry.

As she walked out on to the stage, my very first thought was that I was seeing a character from a Wallace & Gromit film. I mean that only in a good way - middle-class English from a snug little village where people tend to their own lives. Her cat, Pebbles, was just icing on the cake.

On one level, her story is remarkable, of course. Out of nowhere special comes an obviously gifted voice and a secret drive to share it with an audience (beyond Pebbles, of course). But there is an ugliness at work, too. It was in the audience that night and it's on the news every night since.

Like a story with a surprise ending, Susan Boyle doesn't look the part - and we're startled to discover otherwise. She's not glamourous or fashionable or thin or blonde or glib or whatever she's supposed to be. And for all that, we have no expectation of greatness for this woman. And when she proves otherwise, we shriek and clap and say "Good for you, Susan" in a voice typically reserved for speaking with foreigners and the infirm.

Good for you, Susan. And I really mean it.