Having worked (quite briefly) in music, I had some idea going in that this lady could surprise me. I admit that I was duly shocked by the chasm between my expectations and the reality.
I have long been amazed by the differences between the entertainment industries in the UK and the US. With so many more people to draw upon, the US really doesn’t seem to provide proportionately more, or greater talent. Is it because the first filter, appearance, cheats us of the majority and perhaps even the best of our available performers?
I think that the OP is trying to say that it is a shameful waste of talent (and lives) when we don’t see that the less-than-beautiful can be talented, and sometimes we find that beauty comes in forms not readily evident.
You also have to remember that the entertainment industry is a business, though. It’s not that lesser physically attractive people should not be appreciated for their talents. It’s just that physically attractive people are more marketable.
A couple of years ago my daughter became enchanted with Queens “Bohemian Rapsody”. I found a copy of the original video online - if you remember it it was ground breaking stuff at the time. I can’t seem to find a link to it now but this link shows parts of it.
Anyway - my kid gasped and said, “But Mum, they’re all so ugly!” I wonder how Freddie would have been treated on a talent show these days - would they have laughed him and his goofy teeth off the stage?
I suppose the classic victim of the whole looks thing is Michael Jackson - very sad.
That Susan Boyle from your link has Noel Gallagher eyebrows - a sign of talent if there ever was one!
To most people, music is about rocking out. It’s about sharing a social activity with other people. The originality and quality of music is really far down on the scale of importance. Saying to people who grew up with that music won’t change their mind that this is the best band EVAR, of course, but I’d still maintain that it is true.
But so, the appearance of the musicians is important. Heck, the perceived politics of the band is important.
We might all be able to appreciate when someone’s talented, but that doesn’t mean that we want to associate our personal image with that person.
Personally, I’d say that 90% of the bands that everyone knows the name of are bands that really kind of suck. They’re the bands that give a good show and get the audience rocking, but there ain’t a lot of emotion or technical skill in there.
When I first saw the Susan Boyle video, I thought I was watching the opening scenes of “Now, Voyager,” before Bette Davis’s transformation into a beautiful, sophisticated woman. It’ll be interesting to see how Boyle turns out.
And I have to agree with the OP. I wonder how much talent is undiscovered because the person doesn’t “look right.”
> I have long been amazed by the differences between the entertainment
> industries in the UK and the US. With so many more people to draw upon, the
> US really doesn’t seem to provide proportionately more, or greater talent. Is it
> because the first filter, appearance, cheats us of the majority and perhaps even
> the best of our available performers?
It may well be true that appearance cheats us of the best available performers, but this example doesn’t show that there’s any difference between the U.S. and the U.K. in this respect. Susan Boyle failed to make it in the U.K. anytime in her 47 years, presumably because she isn’t and probably never was very good-looking. There’s something even more interesting, I think, that’s pointed out by the competition on Britain’s Got Talent. It shows how little difference age makes. Susan Boyle is the big surprise of this year’s series, because she a brilliant singer who is 47 years old, rather homely, and unemployed (as if somehow those characteristics should disqualify a person from fame). The big surprise of two years ago was Connie Talbot, a 6-year-old who was (for her age) a wonderful singer. The thing that really bothers me is that American Idol is restricted in age. What’s the point of that except to restrict the competition to reasonably good-looking “sexy” people as nearly as possible without outright banning people who don’t fit that profile.
Yeah, but American Idol doesn’t claim to be looking for the most talented singer, does it? (I have to admit, I don’t watch the show, so perhaps I’m wrong here.) It’s looking for the next “idol,” the next pop star, which, whether we like it or not, is very much about image.
Ms. Boyle, with her amazingly beautiful voice that actually gave me chills, is never going to be a pop star. She just isn’t.
Exactly. The US doesn’t have a talent show which would allow Ms. Boyle on stage.
And no, this one example doesn’t show the full difference, but anyone who’s seen a BBC sitcom can see that the people on it are good actors (well, mostly!) who look like normal humans, not supermodels who can kinda sorta act.
Ms. Boyle doen’t sing pop. But really, take a look at the men in the bands some time. Are they really all that good-looking? Now look at the women.
We all know it’s true, what I think that Ms. Boyle shows beyond the shadow of a doubt it that we are missing out on a lot of great talent because of this filter.
And yes, I had chills too - why is that? Even the third time I listened to it it gave me chills.
It’s more than just appearance although that certainly weighs in. There are a lot of levels of success in the music business but also a lot of competition. You have to be determined and be willing to accept a certain amount of rejection. You have to network with others and be available for work. You have to be willing to work a lot for little money just to be heard. Sometimes you get a break but often that break is a result of continued effort.
That lady has a good singing voice but honestly, lots of people do. There isn’t room on the radio for everyone with a decent voice. Plenty of people have dreams but give up to easily when they find out how hard it is. It’s very cool that she’ll get some recognition and her moment in the sun.
Well there’s this guy. I’d agree in general that in the US we’re focused on the package the talent comes in especially trying to sell CDs, but I think a determined talented person can find their niche even if it isn’t in front of the TV cameras. The kind of singing she does she might have found work in stage shows but that requires a certain dedication as well.
It’s worthwhile noting that the show Britain’s Got Talent is not the same as American Idol or X-Factor.
It’s goal isn’t to get a new recording act. It’s goal is to find an act for a once off live performance at the Royal Variey Performance. Obviously if a Leona Lewis came from the show that would be a bonus but it’s not the goal.
Talent shows suck and very rarely turn up anything but curiosities. Real musicians work their asses off for years, refining their music and marketing themselves and gaining experience. I would say most musicians I enjoy are ugly. Of course, Modest Mouse, Ween, Beck, etc would all fare pretty poorly on American Idol. So would Bach. I can’t speak for Britain’s Got Talent, but American Idol is pretty much devoid of talent. It is all about image.
Susan Boyle is a cultural and social outlier. No mass media business - entertainment, information, whatever - can bother with outliers, except as contrast or caricature.
I suspect she really was brought on for some kind of quiet freak value, then surprised the shit out of everybody. So now they have to go with it.
She would not have gotten this far in the USA, I don’t think, unless she was a member of a recognized disadvantaged group. Ugly folk and spinsters are pretty much thought of as failures, not disadvantaged.
Well, there’s all kinds of problems with your theory.
You have not actually demonstrated that the United States doesn’t produce as much talent as you would expect it to, given its population. Talent for what? How do you measure it? Where are your numbers? You can’t even define “Talent,” so how on earth can you say with any authority what country produces more or recognizes it better?
Even given appearance, the entertainment industry is a highly flawed meritocracy; a lot of people who are both attractive and talented don’t make it. Your local theatre scene likely has people just as beautiful and as skilled as famous folk, but they don’t make it big because they just didn’t get a break. There’s no systemic, organized way whereby entertainment finds and develops talent, and so you can’t really say that talent is consistently rewarded in any way.
Even if you could demonstrate that the US produces less talent, proportionately, than, say, the UK, that doesn’t provbe the US favours looks; it may simple demonstrate that the UK has a greater interest in the performing arts. Canada produces more hockey players than the UK but this does not prove that Canadians are better athletes or that the UK has some built in bias that prevents them from recognizxing hockey talent; it’s just that Canadians play a lot of hockey and Britons do not. Perhaps the UK produces more talent because there’s more interest in it. But, again, you can’t prove it does produce more.
And come on… is there anyone in the world with an IQ above that of a turnip who is surprised that an ugly person can sing? Really, is anyone here SURPRISED that someone who looks like Susan Boyle can have a pretty voice? What, you’re never seen opera? I’m sorry, but if anyone here is shocked that an unattractive person can sing beautifully, you are an idiot; it’s logically equivalent to being surprised that an ugly person can’t be a good cook. The only reason it might have surprised anyone is that the setup was that Boyle was specifically presented in the way a lot of contestants are before putting on really dreadful performances on that particular show - frumpy, inappropriate clothing and a brassy attitude usually mean “Awful joke performance on the way” in the context of X Factor, American Idol, and other such shows.