What if Susan Boyle sucked?

April 20, 2009 | By | 2 Comments

Let’s suppose an alternate ending to Susan Boyle’s performance. What if she got up there and was absolutely terrible? In my mind, the problem persists. There is still a valuation of worth based on gifting. I remember winning the superlative “Tallest” in High School. Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was great and all. Actually, I thought it was kind of stupid. I have no control over how tall I am. To me, this was more akin to a Guiness Book of Senior Student Records than anything to be especially proud of. Even the word “superlative” has that bit about being “super” in there. If being tall made me super, what about people who are short? Why was there no superlative for them?

I read through many Youtube comments on Susan’s performance. They all spoke of what a beautiful person she is and I agree with their assessment. She showed a remarkable amount of courage and resolve. I wonder, though, if some people were suggesting that she is beautiful based on her voice. What if she got up there and was a bad singer or even a purely mediocre singer? Would people still be calling her beautiful? She still would have showed the same amount of courage. The only change is that she wouldn’t have been as gifted in the area of singing. There is a difference between having a beautiful gift and being a beautiful person.

I must confess that part of the video bothers me to no end. The girl with the sneering look at 1:24 in fills me with an amount of anger that is close to hatred. What a snobby jerk. I look down on her as much as she initially looked down upon Susan. I can’t really blame her, though, and maybe she was showing on the outside what I was thinking on the inside. Being young is in many ways about being cool. Being cool is in many ways about following trends and fitting in. Fitting in is in many ways about distancing yourself from others who don’t fit in. Being older with unremarkable looks and having never been kissed aren’t exactly attributes that our society values.

It took me some time to figure out why I was overcome with so much emotion while watching this video and the Paul Potts video as well. I don’t really know the answer, but I have a few ideas. We’ve all been in Susan’s shoes. We’ve stood alone and been on the outside looking in. We’ve all been dismissed as invaluable at one point or another.

I think it’s when the crowd gets up and starts cheering that gets me the most. It’s the looks on the faces when they move from sneering to confusion to amazement to acceptance to applause. Doubters are silenced and suddenly people are cheering. They are now rooting for success instead of failure. All the struggle finally sees a payoff as wrongs are being made right.

It touches something deep inside of us. It’s a frog being turned into a Prince and Julia Roberts going back to the clothing store. It’s me in high school giving my heart to silence everybody who didn’t think I should have made the team. It’s me right now getting into the best shape of my life to stick it to the snobby girls like the one at 1:24. Susan’s performance is for anyone who has ever said “you were wrong to treat me as inconsequential”. She was singing for us all.

I guess it can work in reverse order as well. I can’t help but recall the mob shouting “Hosanna in the highest!” followed up by “Crucify him!” one week later. The man who would touch lepers and hang out with prostitutes. The one who had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. The despised and rejected one who gave and continues to give all of us value – even the ones who spat in his very face.

(Update 6/2009 – I’ve felt convicted by some of the things I wrote in this post.  An addendum to this post can be found here.)

Susan’s Performance

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