Sunday, April 26, 2009


The First Few Notes of a Song

In recent days I, like so many others, have struggled to hold back tears as I sat in front of my computer screen mesmerized by the video of Scotland’s Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent. An ordinary woman with an extraordinary gift, she accomplished a feat I would not have dreamed possible. In the first few notes of a song, her lovely voice effectively silenced the snarky, arrogant attitude that seems to permeate the culture of fame. In the first few notes of a song, she drew a technicolour line between talent and celebrity, placing both in sharp contrast and illustrating clearly how rarely the two intersect. Just why was everyone in that audience so certain this woman was incapable of such a performance?
Simple answer, really. She didn’t look the part.

So often these days it seems appearance trumps everything else. In Hollywood, apparently, there is such a sparse folder of acceptable definitions for beauty that people are willing to do just about anything to make certain their visage falls within the corporately validated range. True individuality, and the courage to retain it, seems rather thin on the ground at the moment. A naturally aging face or a bit of a crooked nose, both of which I happily own, are often difficult to find in the halls of celebrity.

Perhaps this is part of the reason that dear Susan Boyle has so transfixed the world. She has challenged the current, paperthin definition of beauty and has, just perhaps, made us wonder how many others just like her are out there in the crowd. How many talented, brilliant, remarkable souls are casually dismissed for appearance sake, and just how much wonder has our culture been denied as a result? I have often heard it said that Abraham Lincoln could never have been elected president in this media driven day. He just would not look the part.
A shudder worthy thought, to be sure.

It is quite impossible to fathom the white hot glare of the lights now focused on Ms. Boyle or what effect that glare will have. Indeed, I have recently read that she has undergone a makeover of sorts.
I do hope those blazing lights do her no harm.
And I hope she gets to sing for the Queen.


Painting above: The Mirror of Venus by Edward Burne-Jones

45 comments:

  1. Wonderful post. Thank you. As one of the "not-beautiful people" I have experienced other judging before they know me.

    Susan Boyle touches my soul with her voice and her inner beauty.

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  2. I have just this minute watched the video for the umteenth time and can't get over her stunnng voice. Tears come to my eyes when looking at the nastiness written on so many faces before she began to sing. A very poor reflection on our society.

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  3. I couldn't agree more Pamela, xv.

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  4. I don't watch the show, and I resisted watching the video, but when I did, I was torn between anger at the initial reaction and tears when she sang. I hope she gets to where she want to be, I for one would be buying her CD. I have a feeling that even if she doesn't win, she will be going places with her amazing voice.

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  5. I agree with everything you say here Pamela, it will be interesting to see what becomes of her. I shed a little tear too.

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  6. I so agree with you Pamela. I wonder if this will perhaps open the door to a change in the way people are valued? So that in future a narrow range of looks are not used as a measure and a constraint.

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  7. As soon and the video began circulation, "makeover" seemed to be the prevailing follow up conversation. It is sad but many things in our society seem to be about the packaging.

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  8. Yes, we are in a horribly 'looksist' world.
    Susan Boyle's voice stunned me in its loveliness.
    A true delight.
    Yes, I would buy a CD of her singing more amazing songs.

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  9. Bravo Pamela! I too am just amazed at her voice! WOW! I cannot wait until she comes out with a CD!
    It will be interesting to see just
    what "her Makeover" reveals!

    Carol

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  10. I feel like we are truly judged by what we look like. The bar for beauty is too high. Yet, Susan did show us didn't she --

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  11. Hi Pamela! I watched the video a number of times and couldn't get over the transfixed face of a certain Mr. Cowell. Did you see those cartoon Pound signs where his pupils should have been? I fear he will take this woman and change her dramatically, giving her opportunity, yes, but irrevocably making her someone she's not. I only hope she can retain her natural, deep beauty. Simon has money on his mind, that's all I know.

    Kat

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  12. She makes all the surface-only-pretties around her pale into insignificance in the presence of her real beauty.

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  13. I wholeheartedly agree. Her voice reduced me to tears, as did her conviction.

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  14. i know.........this is a true life fairytale of sorts.

    it is inspiring, and hopeful to be sure.
    xx

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  15. Hopefully no "makeover" can change her beautiful voice!

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  16. Apparently her makeover has not soiled her soul for she wears a leather jacket she bought at the thrift shop in the photo I have seen.
    That is one of the reasons that blogging is so special, one does not draw judgment of a person by their appearance rather by their gift of writing or creativity.
    You see it matters not to me if you have a crooked nose or I greying hair only that what we write sings from our soul. And for that I am most grateful.
    xo Susan

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  17. I believe that our soul reveals it's own true beauty. Great post and I loved the previous one, the imagery of Edward chasing the bunny - priceless :)

    Kim x

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  18. I am awed by her voice and wonder at those that think she needs a makeover. Who is the authority on what a lady is supposed to look like? She is amazing...love this post!

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  19. A well thought reflection. I find it fascinating how this incident has captured the world.

    I like how blogging gets away from appearances and just makes us listen and look without pre-judgement.

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  20. My daughter, who is in Niger, West Africa, forwarded me the Youtube clip of Susan Boyle a couple of days after the show. Susan's astonishing performance has made it all over the globe. I can usually never watch these "American Idol" types of shows, because they are built on snarkiness and put-downs. Who needs it? Susan Boyle's pure voice overcame all of that, and it was very satisfying to see it happen. Were they USING her, though? Achh, maybe so, but I hope she realizes her dream.

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  21. Sadly, our perfectionistic Western values have encouraged unreal and wrong expectations about people. Media and Hollywood push even further in that direction. And I'm afraid Poetikat's comment is close to the truth:(

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  22. so very true, what does it say about this society in which we live that folks instantly decide about another just by their looks, so so sad. i was so overwhelmed when i watched susan sing, and watched the faces change as they could hardly believe wahat they saw. wonderful lady!

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  23. A touchy and wonderful post. I always say the outside body is only the shell, what is inside counts. I too get teary hearing her sing. xoxo

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  24. I love your words as they touch a chord in all of our hearts. I am in awe of this woman and hope, like you, that this "make-over" is what makes HER happy - the rest of us can just search our own hearts and souls and learn her exceptional lesson of not only not judging a book by it's cover, but WHY we should "judge" at all?? And who gets to determine what a "pretty" cover should look like anyway??

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  25. It is a sad thing that we live in a world that judge on appearance.
    I hope that she goes on to win and gets to sing in front of the queen.
    She's truly talented.

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  26. Beautiful post hon!! Beautifully put!! She is a wonderful being!! I loved watching the faces change from laughing at her to being amazed!! What a gift to this world!!
    BTW Lucy thinks Edward is pretty handsome too!!

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  27. Hear hear!

    Shockingly sad but true. In some ways we are all victims of it. Us, the not-so-perfect perfectly wonderful people!

    I like to think that once above a certain age the majority of people get a good dose of cop-on too!

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  28. a fabulous wake up call to one and all - one of my favorite things on the planet - the underdog victorious!

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  29. Susan Boyle certainly won my heart...so unpretentious and genuine...

    She is blessed with a great talent.

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  30. Well said, my dear. Don't rib me about Nash. Believe me, I struggled with the honesty! You did get a hearty laugh out of me, though!
    Catherine

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  31. I don't watch the show, but I think her story is amazing, and it really does send a signal out that we shouldn't judge by appearances...

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  32. You put my thoughts into words and Susan Boyle
    Boyle put her voice into song! I actually thought she had so much charm - in an innocent way. Let's bring back innocence and virtue to the stage. I hope they keep her spirit intact.
    pve

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  33. So true!
    I watched the utube clip and felt the same emotion as so many others. Her voice, devoid of electronic enhancement or over-dubbing, was a joy to hear. I hope she get a chance to sing for the queen!

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  34. Well said... and something else to think of... we as an audience go to these auditions in order to jeer,laugh, and shudder at someones misfoutunes...it pleasures us for some odd reason. Beheadings and hangings used to fill the square with gawkers. But with Susan, the unexpected happened from an unsuspecting source - a double whammy per se and it took our breath away. We experienced in reality what we go to movies to experience - the possibility of grandeur coming from a humble and honest soul and it shocked us.

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  35. Hello P&E,

    Pity that the mirror of venus doesn't reflect what's on the inside. I believe Ms Boyle has now had her hair dyed and eyebrows plucked. We'll see how much further the transformation might go.

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  36. Obviously came in late on this Pamela, but thank you for posting about Susna Boyle. I echo your sentiments.I know dear souls who are judged by their appearance - so presumptuous of others, and I sincerely hope I am not guilty of it myself. I try hard not to be. What a wake-up call to everybody and I wish Susan Boyle every success.

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  37. I was so disgusted with the eye rolling and sneers on everyone's faces when Susan came on stage...as if talent has anything to do with how a person looks. From the moment that precious woman opened her mouth and began to sing, tears were rolling down my cheeks. I respect her so much for not getting discouraged by people's initial reaction to her. I'm not sure I could have stood up to that.

    I too hope that the spotlight doesn't harm sweet Susan.

    Thanks for this post! ~Lori

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  38. Hubby and I often get confused when watching films about who is who if they have the same hair colour as actresses especially look so similar. I would like to see a wider definition of beauty. I did like it when clothes designers in these competition serials design for people who aren't 6ft size 0 models. It's time there are clothes and shoes for real bodies. I think Susan Boyle is likely to change further now the spotlight is on her.

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  39. A wonderful post expressing exactly how most of us who have watched her performance feel. Such a stunning voice, it literally gave me goosebumps. I, too, hope she isn't spoilt by the dazzling lights. She only had her hair cut and coloured at a local salon!! Sounds ok to me.

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I love to read your comments! Each and every one! Though I'm always reading your comments, I may not respond in the comment section. If you want to write me directly, you may do so at pamela@pamelaterry.net. Thank you for reading!