Susan Boyle, Britain's Got Talent, and Society

>> Monday, April 13, 2009

As she prepared to sing, people in the audience rolled their eyes and mocked her. Apparently, kids have bullied her since she was a little girl because of a disability, and sadly, she told the Mirror, she still sees those kids as adults, and still, they shun her. She is not pretty by a media consumer's standards. And, at 48, she's old -- and we all know that old equals ugly times 2, bahhh!

As I started to watch the youtube clip a friend sent me, with the heading "The Next William Hung," I started to cry. I was devastated that anyone would send me something that deliberately targeted another human being for being different. First, I study teasing, and second, I adore my child with T21. Both of those things make a bit more sensitive than I would have been even 10 years ago.

When the woman, Susan, said she had never been kissed; my heart ached. Nobody should ever be deprived of such a joyous experience -- we all deserve love. I looked at Susan and saw a funny, slightly odd (like most of my friends are odd) woman who would be great company -- and I started to feel sad and angry as I watched this woman get set up for ridicule. What kind of society do we live in? Clearly, one that loves to find people we can ostracize to make ourselves feel better, somehow.

Yet, as Susan began to sing, the audience erupted in applause. They were shocked -- her talent was unexpected. See, we expect amazing things to be wrapped in beautiful packages -- even wrapping our female babies in "bows" to present them to world as beautiful and precious objects of attention. Yet, Susan didn't appear in bows and curly ribbon. She was wrapped, like many of us, in well-worn brown paper -- wrinkled from use and worn a bit on the edges. And, yet, when she "opened-up," her glory was revealed!

I wasn't so much surprised by Susan's talent. If I've learned anything on this journey with Miss Magic, it is to put aside my expectations and embrace the experience as it comes. But, I was stunned by the audience!

Apparently, even those hardened by cynicism, contempt, and derision can open up and experience beauty when it is presented. It provides hope for all of and reminds me that this is why inclusion is so important -- people can't see beauty if we don't share it with them. I may want to protect Maren; hold her back from the possibility of being ridiculed, yet, by doing so, I prevent those who are willing to embrace her -- who simply don't know it yet.

To all those who rolled their eyes, and subsequently wiped their tears -- thank you. I do not condemn you for being cynical; you are part and parcel of our society. But, I embrace you for your openness. It gives us hope for a more loving world. To those who were able to open your hearts to Susan and see the magic in her talent, I offer you a standing ovation.


Anonymous 10:42 PM  

great commentary...

Tara Marie 3:35 AM  

Wonderful post Carol....and so very, very true!

Betsy 8:30 AM  

I watched this video over and over. My heart cheered for Susan, and I wished I was standing off stage with open arms to celebrate with her.

I, too, was afraid I was about to witness another mockery at the expense of a fellow human being, but what I saw was so beautiful.

To see the transformation in the audience in the span of a mere three or four minutes was amazing...amazing, yet something some of are blessed to experience many times over in the every day course of our lifetimes.

I hope Susan realizes how beautiful she really is!

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

“… open your hearts to Susan and see the magic in her talent, I offer you a standing ovation”. This was perfectly said. You are speaking to how I feel. Susan is BEAUTIFUL indeed!

Anonymous 8:29 PM  

Thank you for sharing this.
Susan has an amazing voice!
I work with adults who have intellectual disabilities. I see, on a daily basis their ABILITIES not the "dis". What I hate to see is the obvious signs of doubt & worse on the faces of the audience but then the delight when they hear her sing brings tears to my eyes.
People need to see the person first not the disability!
Slowly but surely we are changing the way we look at each other!

Monica @ Monkey Musings 8:15 PM  

Great post. Susan Boyle is amazing and the audience, unfortunately, represents our society's biases against those who are even slightly different than the mainstream. I cried blubbery-eyed tears for her innocence and beautiful voice.

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