Thursday, April 16, 2009

I Dreamed a Dream

Here is the original video of the now-infamous Susan Boyle from Britain's Got Talent. If you've only seen clips, or if you haven't heard about this story at all, you absolutely must find a quiet place and watch all seven minutes of the video. I started crying halfway through the song and I can guarantee you it has nothing to do with "pregnancy hormones" because I haven't had any crying bouts since being pregnant.

The basics of the story are this - an older and not attractive woman auditions for Britain's Got Talent (the original version of American Idol) and is met with nothing but ill-will and cynicism from every audience member and host. Until she sings and effectively tells them to sit the &$%# down and shut the *&%$ up with the power and sheer beauty of her voice.

I was so overwhelmed with the story of the video and the fact that I was literally witnessing someone's greatest dream come true. I can only imagine what it feels like to long for something for 47 years and then to finally have it come to fruition. And while it's true that American Idol and it's predecessor get their ratings by capitalizing on those who think they can sing, but can't, the sheer contempt on the faces of the audience members when looking at this woman absolutely turned my stomach. They are all making fun of her and practically hate her before even hearing her.

It's something that has been hitting me with overwhelming force lately and this video is such a brilliant and accurate example of it. I'm feeling particularly disgusted and violently bored with our country's obsession with beauty and hollowness above all else. And don't get me wrong, I adore fashion, I love dressing up and think it's important to do so, and I have the deepest love affair imaginable with all forms of art and design - that's not what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about the absolute preoccupation and blinding obsession that surrounds us in regards to beauty IN LIEU OF substance. And maybe I'm more aware of it because I have the television on in the background for much of the day, so I'm exposed to so many commercials for so many awful programs. Or maybe it's because I'm living in this strange limbo with too much time on my hands and so I'm noticing the depth of the problem. Either way, it's making me extremely intolerant of such wretched and boorish behavior as is witnessed in the video.

B and I frequently sit around and wonder what the world would be like if we could celebrate intellect as a form of celebrity that could at least be equal to beauty. We reminisce about a time in which we never even lived in where the average person spoke with reverence about the great scientists of the day.

And again, I'm not in any way calling for a death of fun websites, trashy TV that makes you forget about the economic crisis, unnecessary shopping trips, etc. But there's got to be a better balance and I genuinely fear that it's not coming anytime soon. And this is especially hard when you know that you have a daughter on the way and you're going to have to create some kind of world for her (even if that "world" means your own house) where she's not anchored and pulled under by the one-sided viewpoint that currently exists.

I wish I had a more eloquent take on this problem or a better handle on a solution, but I don't. I just have to voice that this has been tugging on me for quite some time and it's why the video made me cry. I felt like that video was a giant middle finger for all of the people in the world who ever felt like they didn't belong or weren't good enough to sit at the cool table. And let's face it, it doesn't matter how old or how beautiful you are, no one ever feels good enough or beautiful enough - it's the human condition. So enjoy the video, turn up your speakers, and be sure to follow along with the lyrics.

I Dreamed a Dream (Les Miserables) - sung by Susan Boyle

(To see the lyrics, look to the gray info box to the right of the video and click "more info" and the lyrics will expand so you can read along while she sings)


feather nester said...

I hadn't heard about it at cool to see. I love that everyone had the courtesy to look sheepish and admit that they had been so judgmental before she started. It was a great lesson and it's episodes like that that will teach people the point you're trying to make.

die Frau said...

I JUST watched this an hour ago. Not kidding. I feel the same way--I was even a little insulted for her that the judges stated so baldly that they didn't expect anything from her because of the way she looked. The same thing happened with that guy Paul Potts on Britain's Got Talent as well.

We base way, WAY too much on looks. It's become such an incredibly visual world and our idea of beauty has become distorted: We fear gaining any sort of weight lest we be termed "fat", we are terrified of aging, we judge each other mercilessly on surface instead of substance.

I know I've mentioned the Dove Real Beauty campaign before--at least someone's out there realizing that people need to see what actual people look like.

Paula said...

Your comments about our world are eloquent and so sad. I guess we can make an effort to not judge on outward appearance but rather at least make an effort to look at the heart - first said by God to the prophet Samuel when he was looking to anoint a new king (turned out to be David- who was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination yet a "man after God's own heart" - interesting...

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