Why Susan Boyle?

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | April 20, 2009 9:06 am

smilesimon.pngBy now, you’ve surely heard of Susan Boyle. Her performance has been watched by over 30 million people and finally made the NYTimes.  So why has one middle aged woman from Scotland captured everyone’s heart?

Perhaps it’s because she made the music industry’s veritable Scrooge smile like a child on Christmas morning.

Or is it hat we love to root for the underdog and she’s a modern Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger and real life Jamal Malik?

right

Maybe the carbon copy image of what stars should be finally got so overexposed, the public is bored to tears with more of the same.

No, I think all of that matters, but Susan struck a chord because in this troubled world, she represents the perseverance of the human spirit. We got to watch as the most unlikely individual rose to become a celebrated 21st century muse.  No matter how fickle fame is–or who Ms. Boyle turns out to be–we share in her moment of triumph.

So why this woman?  Because for a few minutes in 2009–perhaps more so than Obama himself–Susan Boyle personified hope.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Culture

Comments (12)

  1. Susan Boyle obviously shatters the stereotypical image of youthful beauty that is supposed to be the epitome of such shows. She gives us hope that there are gems among the mundane-looking people that we see on the street everyday. It’s like being in a forest only to discover that we are in the Rabbit Hole. Even if we catch glimpses of this rarely, it fills us up with wonder. Also, you must have heard of Paul Potts.

    In some ways Susan Boyle is like Dewey the Library Cat. Just like Dewey, Susan is also a welcome distraction from the difficulties of everyday life, who provides hope in a time of adversity.

  2. patrick
  3. Sarabeth

    Susan struck a chord because in this troubled world, she represents the perseverance of the human spirit.

    Yes, that’s exactly why.

  4. Tristan

    This is all lovely and everything, but I couldn’t help but feel bitter about how derisive the audience was by just seeing that she wasn’t some 120 pound teenage girl. And I might be alone on this, but I felt even more bitter when I saw how everyone turned on a fucking dime when she started singing. It was just so shamelessly two-faced I couldn’t stand it.

    That said, she is pretty amazing, and I did appreciate the judge’s praise.

  5. I couldn’t help but feel bitter about how derisive the audience was by just seeing that she wasn’t some 120 pound teenage girl. And I might be alone on this, but I felt even more bitter when I saw how everyone turned on a fucking dime when she started singing. It was just so shamelessly two-faced I couldn’t stand it.

    That’s what makes her performance so powerful. Susan didn’t need their approval and wasn’t swayed by the audience because she believed in herself.

  6. Tristan

    You’re completely right, and I hope I didn’t send the impression that I wasn’t as touched by it as anyone else. It’s just that, being the slight misanthrope I am, I can’t help but resent the audience for being so shallow despite that they were proven to be way wrong.

  7. CW

    It was inspiring. I agree.

  8. Humans will be humans, unless other humans sometimes induce them to behave otherwise

  9. okaasan59

    There is no doubt that she has a remarkable talent. But I hope the lesson we learn from Susan Boyle is that in every pub, every library, every office building or classroom there is someone who has undiscovered talents and unappreciated virtues. It may be someone with a creative genius, an uncommon wit, or a completely unselfish capacity for giving. I find that the older I get the more I am humbled by those around me.

  10. Why this woman? Because she put a lot of people in their place. If you watch a full clip you’ll notice that people are laughing just about as soon as she walks out on stage, as if “Oh here is this crazy lady, this is going to be a laughfest.” And when the judges asked her who she wanted to emulate and she replied Elaine Paige, the shot to the audience showed several younger kids laughing at her in a “Yah right.” sort of way.

    And then … she sang … and going back to the audience showed those same fools who had laughed at her … in total shock, catching flies their mouths were so wide open.

    Good for her, and I hope she becomes a star.

  11. MadScientist

    I never heard of her until she featured on the news. I still have absolutely no interest in her.

  12. Linda

    OMG Susan Boyle has A most beautiful voice, I hope to hear more.And what a boost for those who think their to old to go for it whatever it may be…U GO GIRL From Pennsylvania.

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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 info@hachettespeakersbureau.com For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at srkirshenbaum@yahoo.com.

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