I have something to say:
Probably most of you have seen (or at least heard) of Susan Boyle’s first audition on Britain’s Got Talent. If not, here it is:
It reminded me so much of the Paul Potts audition a couple of years back on the same program.
Because they are both talent people, you say? Well, yes. But that’s not why.
It’s because of the initial reaction of the judges and the audience. It is the mockery, the disdain, the ridicule of the audience over the appearance of the contestants. And, I’d like to note, especially toward Ms. Boyle.
Neither Mr. Potts nor Ms. Boyle are from the “beautiful people crowd”. They are everyday people. They are the people we work with or live down the block from. They are people we can identify with. They are average. So why are these everyday folks treated this way? Because our society (not just America but Britain and elsewhere) are obsessed with youth and beauty and fame. Without that, it follows that you have nothing to offer. You must be exceptional.
We are fascinated with Paris Hilton who is young and rich and famous and, I guess, beautiful. We are attracted to Britney Spears, who is young and rich and famous and beautiful. We build up the George Clooney’s and Leonardo Di Caprio’s and Johnny Depp’s and David Beckham’s; the Angelina Jolie’s and Halle Berry’s and Jennifer Aniston’s. Then, at some point, we want them to stumble – to fail at something – and we wait to watch them fall. When they do, we revel in it. And we are vicious toward them. Whether it’s weight gain, a nasty divorce, a substance abuse problem, bad or too much cosmetic surgery or (horrors) just getting older. Why? Because we covet beauty and fame and riches. We want it for ourselves, but if we can’t have it, we want to live vicariously through someone who does have it. Then we resent them.
Mr. Potts and Ms. Boyle possessed something that cannot be seen in an instant. Talent, yes, but heart and courage too. They put themselves on the line, and faced the judgment of the panel and audience. How quickly the smirks and eye-rolls stopped when these two started to perform. Suddenly they weren’t the jokes they were expected to be, they were special.
This is the kind of behavior we expect from children. Who among us can’t recall an incident in high school where someone on the ‘outside’ was treated repulsively from the in-crowd? The problem is that this behavior now extends to adults as well.
Are we so shallow that we only appreciate those who are pretty (as we define that)? Do we really believe that a person’s value is measured by their appearance? Is success only measured in dollars or the number of magazine covers someone is on? Can we not appreciate the individuality and gifts of every single person?
My mother said beauty is only skin deep but ugly goes clear through to the bone. She was right. Beauty was present on stage – a man in an ill-fitting suit who was working every day to support his family. Beauty was a 47-year old woman with heavy eyebrows and a not-too-svelte figure who put her aspirations of singing on hold for years to care for her elderly mother. Beauty was the grace they showed in the face of incredible odds and their passion in pursuing their dream. The ugly was sitting in the audience.
I watched Mr. Potts on You Tube after he won and I teared up each time. I choked up every time I watched Ms. Boyle as well. Beautiful voices to be sure, but so much more.
We need start looking beyond the surface. There are many beautiful people out there and we are missing them. We would be more beautiful people for knowing them.