Susan Boyle, meet your doppelgnger
Wed Jul 22 2009
She was a small-town simpleton from up north, a church lady plucked from obscurity by an enormous organization desperate for a fresh star. Her big performance was surprisingly slick, watched by millions on YouTube and roundly applauded. Yet as the weeks rolled on, her transition to the big leagues hit a stumbling block. The world mocked her feeble intellect and provincial ways. Those initially moved by her debut began having second thoughts: In retrospect, her initial performance seemed stage-managed and fraudulent, her talent modest. As pressure mounted, she lost the competition that had so recently set her star into orbit. She mocked the victor—a classic sore loser.
So goes Susan Boyle, so goes Sarah Palin. The parallels between these two failures are astonishing. Their respective rises, at Britain's Got Talent and the 2008 Republican National Convention, were blindingly swift and initiated by the women's wicked makers. Alaska's outgoing governor and the Scottish feline aficionado (who is already on the comeback trail and just stopped by the Today show) were adored for similar attributes. They were outsiders, alternatively underestimated or ignored by the "elite." They talked funny and lacked fancy degrees, yet were praised for possessing "spunk." But the moment those YouTube clips began to fade—a process that approaches the speed of light—both women began to seem less and less appealing. The spotlight singed. Both were pawns, soon dispensed with by their creepy suntanned Satans, McCain and Cowell.
Obviously, only one of these women represented a threat to global civilization—and really, Boyle's singing isn't that bad. Now that both have officially fizzled, however, it's worth noting the shared shortcoming that helped sink the both of them: utter lack of preparation and aptitude. Of course, these inadequacies were part of the women's initial folksy charm. Their blip in the spotlight points to a harsh truth of the YouTube age, which will no doubt be felt by untold current stars—including the latest round of blink-and-you-miss-them indie-rock hotshots. Sometimes, there is a reason why the system squeezes certain people out while allowing others to prosper. Sometimes, the Man knows what he's doing.