Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Confronting our -isms
I wanted to be able to reflect on this more deeper (and longer) before posting, but I fear this 15 minute window will close quickly, and since the rest of my life is based on "just in time" fulfillment, why not go all in.
In fact, I am sure that there are a thousand posts on this topic right now. I have decided not to investigate that because
a). I could easily be convinced it is overkill and lose sight of the fact that most of This Readership don't read a lot of other blogs
2). I don't want to find out I agree with Heather Armstrong on much of anything
3). I am not actually connected to the Internet at this moment. I would like you think I am writing this on a yellow legal pad with a pen. I'm not. But please remember me when.
That intro is too long. It's like Rodgers and Hammerstein are my editors.
So everyone is talking about Susan Boyle, she of Britain's got it some talent. And yes, she is amazing. The Jury has (quite lit-rilly) ruled on that. I want to talk about why she blows us away.
What we say politely is that we can't imagine that voice came out of that woman. What we mean is we did not expect talent from someone Nanny would have said flatly "ain't a bit pretty," and Lee Smith would add, "....bless her heart..."
I call this essay Confronting Our -isms because I am not ashamed to say I was shocked by her performance, and I have spent a lot of time talking through why.
We can lay some of the blame on the Simon Cowell enterprise. We have become accustomed to the heartbreaking audition, the contestant in way over their head, but not even their closest friends would squash their dream. Simon, that ass hat, is glad to do so if it clears room for the "real" singers (you can say it like him, if you like, sneer and draw out that Rrrrr and a little Britishy through your nose).
Enter Billy Hung. I will not link to him. it makes me cry to watch.
American Idol would not even let someone Susan Boyle's age on. They thought Taylor Hicks was goofing us with his gray hair and dad-pants.
47 and Belle of Amherst virginal, Susan Boyle decks out her best Mother of the Bride and gives Simon a little cheek. (British cheek. Nothing risque) A lot of the kids who show up at the Family Show at Boston Improv are like this -- living room funny and over-indulged -- and it takes some effort to get them back to their seats when they have had the spotlight. When Susan opens with her awkward Goofy Aunt Bess pelvic thrust, you think you know what you are about it get.
but it was more like this, without the sad twist:
So, Britain's Got Talent, let's see if you'll deliver on your premise of finding the UK's next new star, undiscovered and unexpected. Will you will really coach Susan to her potential recording stardom and still let Susan be Susan? Or will she get a full makeover? And will we say what a great improvement it is, and what does that say about us?
I have an ongoing discussion with a dear friend about leg shaving. She reluctantly does it because she feels society expects it (esp. in her workplace). I agree with her on that point, but I also think body hair is revolting, so I do it to avoid looking less like a lower primate. But when it comes to whether I should know my best foundation shade or consider Lasix,the subject is closed and who wants more pie.
I want to be above thinking Susan could use a new do and an eyebrow treatment, because otherwise I have to accept that I could too. I want to applaud Justice Ginsberg for knowing that the lace jabot does not make the bench, but seriously.... Ruthy.... Ruthy...
I have written here before (my first post, in fact) about the time I heard Gloria Steinem read from her memoir Revolution Within, and how in the bathroom line after an hour of true inspiration, a pre-Boomer of Gloria's own cohort lamented that Gloria should do "something with her hair."
Certainly a recording star like Boyle could be as big as Elaine Paige just as she is. But I bet she gets handlers, and soon, and a couple of albums from now she will be back to singing in the shower because she just wanted to be heard, not seen.