Posted by Tania Kindersley.
I don't often put up links to Youtube sensations. It is partly because they seem to me often fleeting and not that pointful; partly because I'm not much for fiddling around with links; and mostly because the magnificent Sara Silverman singing I'm Fucking Matt Damon spoiled me forever for anything else. But this one is in a category all of its own.
I don't watch talent shows, and have only a sketchy idea of who Simon Cowell is or what he means. I know he is cynical and grumpy and apparently takes pleasure in telling deluded performers that they will never amount to anything. Clearly that was what he was gleefully preparing to do when a slightly awkward 47 year old Scottish woman walked onto the stage and said that she wanted to be as famous as Elaine Paige. She did not look the part; nothing about her was equipped for fame, from her unpainted face to her admission that she lived alone with her cat. Then she opened her mouth, and it turned out, in a glorious, shocking moment of surprise, that she could sing. Cowell went from sceptical rolling eyes to cartoonish jaw drop of pure astonishment. Then, to his credit, a smile of pure, uncontaminated pleasure spread over his face. The lovely Susan Boyle achieved something no one else in the country has ever been able to do: she made Simon Cowell look like a human being.
There are several fascinating things about this whole affair. Everyone was prepared to write Susan Boyle off, simply because she did not look right. The newspapers, even after her triumph, have used cruel descriptions of her - 'a dowdy spinster' said one reputable broadsheet. Interestingly, the audience was much more generous - the moment they saw she could sing like an angel, they went nuts; they were all for her, they were on her side, nothing else mattered but this beautiful voice. On the blogosphere, the thing everyone is saying is that it has taught them the most important and overlooked lesson of all: don't you go judging a book by its cover. The final thing, which affects me on a personal level, is that the media is defining her as a forty-seven year old woman who has never married. This comment does not have to be illuminated; it stands alone, meaning: freak. Well, I am a forty-two year old woman who has never married. I would like to stand in solidarity with the miraculous Miss Boyle and say that not doing the expected thing does not make one entirely beyond the pale.
Watch it, anyway. It is a little parable for our times. It is the classic story of the underdog coming out and beating all comers. It made me cry like a baby.