The Wife of Bath Effect: The Glomming of Susan Boyle
The following linked video has been seen by millions--no doubt most of you who find this post will have viewed the clip on YouTube or watched it repeated ad nauseum on a parade of TV shows. If you haven't seen it, take a quick look:
Like most, when I first heard and saw this video, I was amazed. Still am, actually, since that's a damn hard song for anyone to sing. However, the fuss over Susan Boyle has a lot less to do with her talent--which seems ample based solely on this effort--than with her looks. When Boyle first steps up to the microphone, Simon Cowell's (yes, THAT Simon Cowell) look echoed my own: this woman thinks she can sing? Frankly, Boyle appears to be a cast member from a faithful film adaptation of The Canterbury Tales wherein she would be the Wife of Bath.
She proceeds to stun everyone in the audience, Cowell included, with her beautiful rendition of a song from Les Miserables. Yet, the more I repeatedly watched the video, the more I realized how petty I am still. Had a beautiful woman in her 30s stepped out onto that stage and belted out that very song, would I have been so thrilled? No. Would Simon Cowell have raised those estimable eyebrows with such improbation? No. Would over 11 million hits on this particular video have been recorded in less than a week? Again, no.
I was fascinated because Susan Boyle is not an attractive person. She doesn't look like a model; she doesn't have flawless skin nor a hip hair style. She dresses frumpily, and when she smiles, it appears to be more of a grimace. She is not someone I would go out of my way to say "hello" should we pass on the street. The epiphany struck me: I'm shallow. Why should I have been surprised? Good singers, pretty much like every other walk of life, aren't such because they're physically attractive. No, it's because they've been blessed with lovely pipes and perhaps have received a bit of training, as is the case with Susan Boyle.
So, I'm disappointed at myself. I should know better. Just when I think I've managed to accept people for who they are no matter how they appear, I find myself falling into old habits. And that's not a pretty sight. . .