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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Column – Homely talent uncovered in soloist Susan Boyle

To dream a dream, to entertain a fancy-many would have put her dream to bed at first sight. She is the perfect example of why not to judge a book by its cover, and neither Simon Cowell nor the world’s pop culture could see her coming.

An overnight sensation, and Britain’s favorite flower after her performance of “I Dreamed a Dream,” from the musical “Les Miserables,” on the TV show “Britain’s Got Talent,” Susan Boyle, may have become the fastest growing YouTube sensation since the website’s creation.

But why are we so fascinated by this 47-year-old Scot, whom CNN calls “the shy girl who has never been kissed?”

The truth is, she doesn’t have the face that society would put with her talent, and this is shocking people into a morbid curiosity worldwide. A curiosity that is hopefully accompanied by a genuine desire for the simple woman to win the show’s first place prize: to sing for Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Variety Show.

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She didn’t expect the attention, the fan mail, the extensive media coverage and the video of her performance scoring more than a million hits on YouTube. She has risen to No. 39 on the iTunes chart of top downloaded songs.

To see someone so homely get this kind of attention, is it inspirational or is it simply a novelty?

YouTube comments seem to be focused around the hopeful and prideful aspect.

A commenter on YouTube named xxVisuallKeii praised Boyle:

“You prove that you can not judge a book by it’s cover and should be very proud of yourself! You are an inspiration to all of us middle-aged women who think they are dreaming the impossible and are scared to get out and show the world what we are capable of! Congratulations Susan!!!!!!!”

But even the judges were saying the obvious. Until she opened her mouth, she was going to be like so many American Idol want-to-be’s who were laughed at, ridiculed and sent packing.

“Without a doubt, that was the biggest surprise I have had in three years of this show,” said former tabloid editor Piers Morgan, who is judging the contest along with Amanda Holden and the show’s creator, Simon Cowell.

“When you stood there with that cheeky grin and said I want to be like Elaine Page, everyone was laughing at you. No one is laughing now,” Morgan added.

Indeed, the audience did laugh when she took the stage. The judges looked apprehensive, and the hosts looked ready to burst.

Will this be a lesson to all that we have to stop judging people based on their appearance?

Most likely not, but at least for now, Susan Boyle has brought a little bit of hope to those who look more like real people and less like models.

She will remain the exception to the rule.

At the same time, she is giving many people a brief moment of satisfaction that an unemployed, middle-aged woman-who doesn’t change who she is and how she looks-can take the stage in front of the world’s most famously bad-tempered critic, and silence the doubters.

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