Friday, April 17, 2009

Sometimes a girl just wants to be happy

So, this woman, Susan Boyle performed on Britain's "Who's Got Talent" and basically blew everyone away. Today, Jezebel wrote an article questioning why it is that people are so excited about her:

The blogs are a-twitter with this Magical Woman, come to teach us Lessons. What fools we are! we self-castigate. Here's a dowdy lady who doesn't look like an American Idol contestant and we judge! Because she hasn't received validation from the patriarchy, we assume she's unworthy! And we were wrong! Stupid, stupid, shallow idiots! We judge! And are found wanting! Ad nauseam!

There is indeed something worrisome about plucking someone from obscurity and feting them for a week or so to make the rest of us feel better, reducing her to a two-dimensional character who reaffirms our belief in the Power of Dreams, never mind that Boyle seemed neither miserable before, nor particularly turned by the attention. (Indeed, she seems insufficiently willing to play the role for many of the interviewers, who seem reduced to portraying her as "lovable character" rather than "tragic redeemer.")

And sure, I guess I get that sort of criticism. I think there are definitely people out there who want to take Ms. Boyle and use her as a representation of the Great Hope for All Mankind or whatever- journalists, tv people, talk show hosts, sure. But that wasn't why I loved watching that performance.

I loved watching that performance because when you watch her sing, the sheer joy of singing almost overwhelms you. She is SO happy to be there, to be singing, to be on that stage (regardless of who she is or where she comes from) that you can't help but be moved by it, and the audience is and the judges are and for one beautiful moment you and everyone else are caught up in the triumph of music, of the moment, of the song, of her beautiful voice. For me, it was about that one pure moment of just utter love- not the stupid analysis that comes after it or the humble beginnings from which it sprung.

My brother and I had a discussion yesterday about whether it's rational to care about people you don't know. In this discussion, I was definitely the idealist of the two of us. I argued as rationally as I could that caring about others is not just the moral thing, but it's a necessity in a world where everything and everyone is so intricately connected. After the conversation though, I realized that although that's part of it for me, a large part of why I care about other people is because I want to believe in magic. I'm not talking about insipid tricks or potions or whatever- I'm talking about those very rare moments when the world seems to connect and life seems...possible. When you believe that all the shit that's happening in the world today can be overcome and even if not by you, by someone somehow. Susan Boyle's performance is an example of that for me where everyone is so surprised in those few brief moments that something (guard, cynicism, etc) is let down and everyone laughs and the whole world seems alight with childlike wonder. I want to believe in that.

And in things like this :)

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