Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Boyle's queendom

I first heard about Susan Boyle from Sandy, as I don't tend to watch the show she featured on. Due to Sandy's ability to convey her innate compassion by the time I reached this bit: 
The first note was all it took for everyone to see.
I felt a slight lump in the throat just hearing the story of  a woman I'd never heard of. A lot of the reaction to the lady's triumphant win-around audition concentrating on the obvious looks angle feels a little bit too easy when we all have equally arbitrary and similar criterion by which we exclude people from the group and that isn't being discussed.

There's a slight air of judgementalism toward the audience but they did accept her on talent, which is more that can be said for those who exclude because people do not share their cultural background and idioms often couched as them "lacking in intelligence.

I watched the YouTube video of her audition (sans sound) before I heard her speak or sing. The story is that Mz Boyle has been scorned because she's neither beautiful, nor young and is plump to boot. That's fair enough as far as it goes, but it appears to be trying to tie her story to its context in a way that allows some to distance themselves from a story that is really a reminder to us all.

My immediate impression of her is that she has an ever so slightly unusual bearing; the way she holds and carries herself, her assertion which has an air of vulnerability nonetheless.

People who are not run of the mill are supposed to be subdued around the more 'socially skilled', if not that gives that would give their assumed ascendancy a bit of a shake.

We are supposed to get a sense of self worth through belonging and accepted, we sometimes give up things or put aside doubts in order to throw our lot in. "Outsiders" can disquiet us by disturbing the memory of that, if someone isn't accorded the privilege of being one of us, they should feel badly about that to soothe our disquiet at least.

To make it all seems worthwhile and correct.

If not, what do our compromises count for?

Looks aren't as simple a matter as is often made out anyway, I think it was Helena Rubinstein who alluded to it when she said, "there are no ugly women only lazy ones." I always felt "lazy" was a catch all which included disinterested or disobedient.

Or to put it another way, as long as you submit and pay constant tribute to society's beauty representations, you are often deemed acceptable regardless of whether you are a raving beauty or not.

Often its the paying  tribute that really matters more than your level of attractiveness, as you are showing that you are on board with certain values, that you submit to them. That is very important.

The thing I don't really like is the fury and rage about "beauty" from those who feel they lose out here, but are okay in the ones they are trained in which are sometimes less democratic and amenable to tribute.

There is supposed to be this great divide between treacherous beauty and meretricious intelligence, but is there?

Susan Boyle is unstyled we have no idea how she'd 'scrub up', how she would look if styled in the manner of middle aged women who preen and pluck themselves to the nth degree. Now no one must escape that, regardless of age or stature.

See Hillary Clinton as opposed to say Golda Meir.

There was some talk about a traumatic birth leaving her with a brain injury and some kind of  learning disability. This is possibly what the audience was picking up on and is often played up in this kind of programme as a trigger to respond sceptically. Tending to zero in on them as the early stages contestants showing people overly optimistic about their level of talent.
I find this almost painful, excruciatingly unwatchable-which is why I don't. I received notice, would I have reacted any differently to the audience without that? I'm not entirely sure.

At some point in all our lives, we will have to win people round often it is profoundly unfair, which is why it is so often the stuff of our deepest-"I'll show them!" style fantasies.

Whatever group, we all decide those who is like us and therefore part and those decidedly not and to disassociate from them too. Often outsider status rests on the same kinds of things present in Susan Boyle a seeming unworldliness about the rules of the clique and their acceptable codes of carriage, manner and dress, worse still if it seems to be combined with some or any appearance of confidence or self-belief. That as well as the opposite being upset by exclusion provokes amusement.

"Misfits" they may be, but they must get their tone even-no strong emotion that betrays they care unduly about their status. Rather than feeling complimented, it seems to make people wonder why you'd care so much about little old them?

We can re-confirm what we've (supposedly) gained in the group against the appearance of someone who never came close to the corps d'espirit.

Here's a woman that's had to rely on inner reserves to keep going in circumstances that have seen off others who may be a better fit, caring for an elderly person in their declining years. Her mother was 91 when she died and Susan looked after her for years.

She has also had to be strong to resist the campaign of bullying by local children, when she herself was one and as an adult too.

She was able to win people round in part because she was in her milieu, she's watched the show as a viewer, sung her songs locally, these are her people even if she's had an uneasy fit.

Those who'd have no place for her turn this into axe grinding about beauty and youth, rather than considering how we all push people to the margins of our snug habitats and what we expect them to do about that.

We all set people aside, write them off in ways no deeper or probing a judgement of the human character than one's hair or eyebrow styling.

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