Susan Boyle Hospitalized

Is fame too much for Susan Boyle? Apparently it is at least taking its toll on the dowdy diva.

The producers of Britain’s Got Talent are facing an investigation over their treatment of contestant Susan Boyle after she was admitted to The Priory clinic suffering exhaustion.

Media regulator Ofcom is considering launching an inquiry after receiving ‘a large number of complaints’ from viewers of the hit ITV programme.

The show’s bosses have come under fire for not withdrawing her from the contest after it emerged she had not been sleeping or eating properly in the week leading up to Saturday’s final.

A source from the watchdog told London’s Evening Standard: ‘There are a lot to go through. There are complaints about Susan Boyle being allowed to perform in the final.’

Police were summoned to her hotel following her shock loss to dance troupe Diversity and the 48-year-old was assessed under the Mental Health Act after she had an ’emotional breakdown’.

It gives more credence to those who said she’d have a hard time dealing with the fame–and she didn’t even win. Those of us who have worked closely with mentally challenged people of different types probably saw something like this coming. It doesn’t mean that Susan can’t be a singing star but it does mean that she needs good handlers–people who will be able to keep the limelight shining while allowing her to maintain some reclusive moments to escape the pressure of the public life.

When you’re a “star” everyone thinks they know you and that you have time for everyone that comes your way–and moreover, that you owe them a moment. If you don’t give them a moment or engage them then you’re “the bigshot who didn’t have time for the little people.” It’s a hopelessly impossible situation. You are balancing some kind of privacy with a public personna–and most people just don’t get it.

Even small time fame has broad strokes of troublesome times. My college roommate was on MTV’s Real World (Joe, from the Miami series–and I’m not answering any more questions about him) and I had a hard time walking down the street with him in nearly any city where he wasn’t recognized by someone who wanted to know 10 questions about the show. It was frankly annoying–even for me. College friends would even stop and merely ask him questions about the show and not about anything else and even worse would ignore anyone else who was with him in lieu of getting more “inside information”. A good friend once didn’t even notice I was standing next to him one day and apologized once he jumped out of the “star stupor.”

Some will certainly look at the likes of these reality and game show superstars and say “Oh wah-wah you’re life is so hard! You sing and get paid for it.” Or “You were on TV and it ruined your personal life.” And I think there’s some wisdom and truth to their criticism because after all, they did want this kind of fame and public recognition and the mistake is not thinking about the boundaries that you’d have to set up once fame sets in.

However, the real issue is that most likely fame is thrust upon unlikely people–like Susan. And fame moves very quickly and the pressure mounts even faster. Who is going to pick up the pieces when fame rears its ugly head on someone unprepared for the pressure it foists?

More on Susan Boyle

This got twittered to me:

From the fine Catholic News outlet in Minneapolis: The Catholic Spirit

According to British media, she has learning disabilities as a result of being starved of oxygen at birth. She is unemployed and, as a churchgoing Catholic, her social life revolves around her family and her parish of Our Lady of Lourdes. She also enjoys karaoke in her local pub.

Father Clark said, “When she gets up to sing it can either be wonderful or you can get the unpredictable eccentric behavior, but it is to do with the fact that she has learning difficulties.

“In a sense, there is a beautiful voice trapped in this damaged body,” he said. “It is an absolute contrast. There she was on television acting very peculiarly and the audience was expecting peculiar things to happen and then a voice of an angel comes out — and that’s Susan.”

Father Clark said that local people who knew Boyle, the youngest of nine children of a family descended from Irish migrants, were “enormously proud of her and wish her the best but they are aware of the risks she is running,” adding that her behavior has previously drawn cruel taunts from children.

“People are slightly worried about what might happen after this bout of fame,” he explained.

“I am quite worried for her,” he added. “I think it’s great at one level. It might just be the thing that will make her, but she is a very vulnerable person and it could be quite difficult.

“It is a great opportunity for her and as far as I am concerned she should make the best of it, and if it lasts, it lasts, and if it doesn’t, then it’s still more than almost any one of us will ever achieve,” he added. “It is important in sustaining her and making sure this is all a very, very beneficial experience.”

Boyle indeed has that bit of eccentricity in her. It may indeed be tough for her to deal with fame and prestige or for her to handle a salty barb from Simon or Piers. But it seems to me that she has plenty of people around her to keep her in check. I can’t wait for her next performance which is supposedly going to be Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Whistle Down the Wind” which is from the disastrous show Whistle Down the Wind that was so bad they once called it “Whistle Down the Drain.”

Hopefully, that’s not an omen for Susan Boyle.

What if Susan Boyle Couldn’t Sing?

CBS has this interview with Susan Boyle:×3.swf
Watch CBS Videos Online

And from the Huffington Post, a better question asked by writer Dennis Palumbo: What if Susan Boyle couldn’t sing?

What would the judges and the audience have thought, and said, had her voice been a creaky rasp, or an out-of-tune shriek? Would she still possess that “inner beauty?” Would we still acknowledge that the derisive treatment she received before performing was callous, insensitive and cruel?

The unspoken message of this whole episode is that, since Susan Boyle has a wonderful talent, we were wrong to judge her based on her looks and demeanor. Meaning what? That if she couldn’t sing so well, we were correct to judge her on that basis? That demeaning someone whose looks don’t match our impossible, media-reinforced standards of beauty is perfectly okay, unless some mitigating circumstance makes us re-think our opinion?

Personally, I’m gratified that her voice inspires so many, and reminds us of our tendency to judge and criticize based on shallow externals of beauty. What I mean is, I’m glad for her.

But I have no doubt that, had she performed poorly, Simon Cowell would be rolling his eyes still. And the audience would have hooted and booed with the relish of Roman spectators at the Colosseum. And that Susan Boyle’s appearance on the show would still be on YouTube, but as an object of derision and ridicule.

Indeed. Someone I know had the audacity to accuse her of lipsynching. I even found myself asking if she could sing anything else. Another friend said that if she wants to win the whole thing they’ll have to “clean her up a bit.” The world is still a tough audience even after a spectacular performance. And what of the dozens of people who take their turn on the stage and make complete fools of themselves? The issue at hand is not their foolishness but rather their desperation to be noticed. We crave that as humans and some go to unreasonable lengths to get it.

Society does indeed place people in the categories of being “cool” or “uncool” and Susan’s dowdy matronly demeanor qualifies her only to the latter status even with her amazing voice and not despite it. It’s almost as if we are saying that she’s better sing well because she’s got nothing else going for her.

Truth be told, Susan had the deep love in her heart that cared for her sick mother for years and has tons of friends at her local pub where her voice often sang karaoke–when she wasn’t lulling her mother to sleep with it. Her obvious kindness and friendship seems to surpass most people’s. Her mother’s death even seemed to throw her into a depression which stilled her voice for some time, but also has now propelled her into stardom.

These are indeed the people that Jesus warns the Pharisees about. He was careful to remind them that while they were people of the law that they had also forgot about the people who society had cast to the sidelines. The poor, the ignored, the lepers and those who had betrayed them like the hated tax collectors were all victims of derision. If Susan Boyle had been part of this society would Jesus have shamed the Pharisees by having her intone just one note?

The point that we need to see is not that Susan is wonderful because she sings, but that Susan is wonderful because she is Susan. She is one of us–a child of God in all her frump and dowdiness. Her voice betrays that to be sure–but our lesson is that we should’ve seen her worth long before her song.