After having been sent many e-mails extolling the wonder of Susan Boyle's recent performance on the Britain's Got Talent show, I could not help but make some of my feelings known....
Singers these days are like the new gladiators. No lions in the ring now, instead the unfortunate hopefuls are put into a ring of "emotional fire," faced with the same kind of foolish spectators, who are, as of old, ravaged by crowd mentality.
And like olden times, this crowd of spectators also looks to Royalty (the expert panel) to gauge how they should feel.
BAD MANNERS WIN THE DAY
It is deemed ok (in fact, it is encouraged, for TV ratings) to jeer and snipe at the person onstage - to belittle and find fault with looks, deportment, age, dress, and general beingness of the singer until (and unless), low and behold, the singer has the hutspah to display real talent.
And then.... my goodness, we discover that someone who is not gloriously beautiful and cool and well-heeled, young and modern-looking, slender and well-dressed and on and on.... deserves to be heard?!!!!!! Has something to say?!!!!! Is worth spending time with?!!!!!!!
Who would have thunk it?
(These spectators-in-a-crowd are not too bright. And they have short memories, it would seem. Remember Paul Potts?)
And then - when the talent shines for all to see, suddenly everyone becomes loudly grateful for the opportunity to hear this fine (if unkempt-looking) person, who, READY OR NOT, is thrust into instant stardom with all the of the ridiculous pressures that contemporary stardom entails. Only, (and often, I suspect) to find that their fragile talent cannot endure the enormous weight of foolish expectations. And then, if they falter, they are called once again into ridicule: "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!"
It's a giant mockery of this noble thing called (vocal) talent.
These hugely publicized "revelation" events give permission to and condone the new gladiator sport, where more often than not, hopeful singers are pilloried, humiliated and falsely blamed to the great glee of both the panel (with dollar signs in their eyes) and the audience (with self-satisfaction in their eyes - after yet another cathartic session of blood-letting).
I wish the best to Susan Boyle. May her talent withstand the great stupidities it must inevitably endure. May she remain as pure of spirit as she records her first CD. May she continue to express through her strong (yet oddly fragile) voice, the many colors of her unique life experience.
But I cannot celebrate the method of her discovery. It's an ancient, savage sport that we should, at this point in our evolution, have risen above.
- Barbara Lewis
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