- Politics and Social Issues
Susan Boyle breaks stereotypes of shallowness
Channel of a Subliminal Message
Hitting a collective raw nerve
Being forty-seven years old with windblown hair, plump, alone with just a cat for a companion and telling an audience that she has never been kissed in her life is a perfect package for harsh judgment and exclusion in the societies that we know. Before Susan Boyle opened her mouth for the first note of “I dreamed the dream” from Les Miserables, the moment was a glimpse of how her life was, before she was on the Britain’s Got Talent stage. Alone. Yes, with Pebbles, her cat. The BGT moment was a microcosm of how society defines social acceptability. It is as if the right to be loved is reserved only for the young and the wealthy. It is as if an unemployed woman has no right to tell the world about her dreams. The sneers of the audience and the suppressed laughter of Piers, Amanda and Simon before Susan sang her first line was a testimony to how mainstream society generally views a package like Susan walking on BGT stage and announcing her dream.
There is another side in people though – that side that is perfect. That perfect side is where the human spirit dwells. The global wave of interest in the Susan Boyle story is a manifestation of every person’s perfect side wanting to connect with the human spirit. Susan Boyle as an unemployed woman in the context of the global financial crisis puts across a subliminal message of solidarity. Each person who is unemployed or is supporting unemployed people has a Susan Boyle angst and longing inside himself or herself. The coming of Susan Boyle at the world stage is a reminder that people’s original nature is to connect with people. Compassion, humility, tolerance, acceptance and respect as society’s higher values came to the fore when Susan Boyle was on the BGT stage for the first time.
One justification for the current 47 million views of Susan Boyle in You Tube is the internet itself. It is there and people will necessarily go to the internet. But even with the internet being within reach if there is no reason for people to click the mouse, we cannot expect a staggering number of views. Why people get curious to click on the news is because the Susan Boyle story is a headline story. Why it is a headline story is because Susan Boyle blew up a stereotype at the BGT auditorium. There was no other way but for stereotypes to bow to talent.
There are moments when a force greater than society’s collective arrogance and shallowness just come unbidden. Susan Boyle was the channel of that irresistible force that suddenly told people that to be forty-seven and dreaming to be a professional singer is a birthright. Life can start at 90 or at any age if one hasn't arrived with one’s dream at an earlier time. To be forty-seven and telling the world that you have never been kissed wouldn’t have put Susan in a laughing stock status if respect, tolerance and compassion were the stuff that the world society was made of. Painfully, we as a human society has yet to evolve towards our higher selves. What if Susan’s voice was not the angelic one that we heard? Wouldn’t she have the right to express herself as a woman without being sneered at?
The Susan Boyle story is a woman’s story, not just a musical event. A woman of forty-seven and having never arrived at the music scene because of never having the right packaging at her command – this is the stuff that most women are made of – the stuff of marginalization, toil and sacrifice. To be 47 when people just adore youth and physical beauty is to get strangled by the age divide. Susan’s mother must have intuitively known that all that it would take for her daughter to reach her dream was to hang on and be unafraid. Even Susan’s choice of “I dream the dream of days gone by” brought goose bumps if not tears to most televiewers. Has Susan Boyle’s choice of that song for her BGT performance been a subliminal choice? Of course, only Susan Boyle would know how to respond to this question. Intuitively, we humans have a soft side for people who try hard. But society has come to a point when the assertion of the right brain has been drowned by the left brain. Among indigenous peoples all over the world, we would read about the ancients giving so much value to intuition which is a right brain function. As soon as societies started to give a lot of focus on the left brain as a mark of human achievement, indifference to people’s feelings became a trend. It is only in recent years that the concept of emotional intelligence has gotten a front seat again.
The reaction of the BGT audience, including those of the judges, to Susan Boyle’s responses to the interview questions before the actual performance, whether consciously or unconsciously, were eloquent microcosms of how most societies view women and aging. Why there is a growing interest in Susan Boyle’s videos at You Tube tells us that all of us are looking for the perfect side in ourselves and in people. But the problem is we are blocked by a mass conditioning that works in our mind every second of our lives – the conditioning that society has for “good packaging.” Susan Boyle just smashed off all those stereotypes.
This face keeps a song for the world
Stereotypes cannot but vow to talent.
Note: At the moment, embedding the You Tube videos on Susan Boyle, according to You Tube, has been disabled by request. Kindly go to You Tube directly to watch the Susan Boyle videos