Why Singer Susan Boyle, No "American Idol," Is a Big Deal

She reminds us how shallow Hollywood's notions of beauty are.

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By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog.

Of all the online commentary I've seen on the Scottish answer to American I dol, singer Susan Boyle, this from Entertainment Weekly is by far the most, er, moronic:

All these words have been thrown around pretty liberally in reference to Susan Boyle, the unassuming 47-year-old Scottish woman who bowled over Simon Cowell with her rendition of a Les Miz song on Britain's Got Talent. Her clip went viral, and next thing you know, she's got 11 million hits on YouTube  and an endorsement from Patti LuPone herself on The Early Show (see clip above, and check out Ken Tucker's take here).

Not to be a grump, but am I the only one who finds this a little over-the-top and, frankly, a little condescending? Plenty of big-voiced PYTs sing their hearts out every week on American Idol (not to mention onstage in Broadway shows) without getting this kind of reaction. But Susan, because of her looks, because of the fact that people were snickering at her before she opened her mouth, becomes a sensation simply by being able to carry a tune. She has a decent voice, sure. But let's not get carried away.

I don't believe the world's admiration of this woman's incredible voice is over-the-top or condescending. What was condescending was the host's reaction and the audience's reaction to this obviously matronly woman trying out on what is normally a pretty young thing's platform.

I got goosebumps watching Susan's performance because she is incredibly talented. And it made me wonder how many similarly talented people who don't fit Hollywood's description of beautiful are denied careers due to the most regressive of American values: shallowness.

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