Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sometimes When I'm Feeling Blue

...I watch this video of Susan's Boyle's first audition on Britain's Got Talent. I'm not a fan of musicals, and I'm not a watcher of shows that involve competitive singing. I didn't even like Glee that much past the first season. But this clip is my go-to when I need to see something incredible happening through art. And in this clip, a chubby, frumpy, awkward, nervous middle-aged woman with a bad haircut and an unkempt eyebrows does something amazing. She tells the world who she is, with no apologies. She is vulnerable and warm and honest, and she is astonishingly beautiful. I love the one little moment where she looks directly at the judge as she sings, "I had a dream", and in her eyes, you can see her saying, "I know you think I'm old and fat and funny-looking, but I'm a full human being and my desire counts. I feel, too." Her communication with the audience is so powerful that the formerly snickering crowd is completely taken over, instantly in love. 

I hope that we can all have this moment in our lives, artists or not. I hope that we can all have our coming out, our moment when all the labels and the externals and the trappings fly away, and we are exposed souls, singing our deepest desires and pain to an audience who didn't realize how deeply they needed to connect. 

(PS--Once I got the video up, it popped up a message saying the content was blocked. Eh, just hit play and click on the "Watch on YouTube" link. I'm too lazy tonight to re-edit or find a work-around.)

--Kristen McHenry


Frankly Curious said...

I remember the first time I watched this. The amazing thing is watching the judges who are clearly dismissive. And then she starts to sing. It is a beautiful thing.

But it bothers me too. She is the freak who can sing. If she couldn't sing, she would just be the freak. You are completely correct: we all deserve the respect she eventually gets. But unless someone is "useful" they rarely get that respect.

It reminds me of the ultimate question all artists get, "Do you get paid?" The implication is that it isn't valid if you don't get paid. As though, for example, your poetry is just something from high school you never got over.

In America, I think people use this as a way to avoid actually connecting with other people. If you were worth knowing, you'd be rich.

Kristen McHenry said...

I understand what you mean, Frank. It's sad to think of the many Susan Boyles out there who don't have crazy talent and who go through their lives unrecognized, unseen, or outright derided just because they aren't visually agreeable, or they're a little eccentric.

When someone has extraordinary artistic talent, I think the line can be very thin between that talent being truly appreciated and it being fetishized and used as way to further objectify the person who has it. America in general has a very hostile relationship to artists. (I consider entertainers to be in a different category, at least for the purposes of what I'm talking about here.)The only way to legitimize yourself as a artist in this culture is if you "make money at it"--otherwise you're just a hobbyist or you're just playing around or you probably don't have any real talent, etc.

Jo-Ann said...

I dont know if the world is as cynical as Frankly Curious states that "unless someone is 'useful' they rarely get that respect." I think it is true that we do make rash initial judgments (based on appearances). I also know, for the most part, that these judgments are usually proved wrong once we get to know the person. Respect and friendship develop once we find out what makes the person tick. That is about being human.

Celebrity status, however, is seldom about being human. And celebrities are seldom truly respected ... idolized and/or hated but seldom respected.

Regardless, thank you, Kristen, for the video clip (I dont have TV so hadnt seen this before) and the wish that "we can all have this moment in our lives".

Frankly Curious said...

@Jo-Ann - I don't think of myself as cynical, but I know the argument can be made. I think that people are generally pretty decent. Unfortunately, I think there are ways that our culture warps our relationships. But it is not something we have to accept. Part of fighting it is what we're all doing here: calling out society's nonsense.