Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The "Munter" Miss Susan Boyle, The Elephant Man, And The Polar Magnetism Of Mr Simon Cowell's Teeth
In the matter of deadly sins, I am far more likely to covet my neighbour's ox than to submit to jealousy. However, I can't deny that the unlikely success of the Blackburn chanteuse, Miss Susan Boyle, has set my heart aflutter with unusual palpitations.
To be clear, I do not envy the woman her fate. Anyone submitting themselves to the slings and arrows of reality television will come, I suspect, to regret the decision. Reality television, which has little to do with reality, and not much to do with television, is an idiot contest in which victory can quickly come to seem like defeat, as was evidenced by the unfortunate Miss Jade Goody, who was compared in death to Princess Diana, yet had far more in common with the Elephant Man, Mr John Merrick. She was served up as a freak, lived a freak's life, and died a freakish death full of simulated emotion and hard cash. May she rest in peace and be remembered fondly by her family and no one else.
Miss Boyle is slightly different, in that she has talent. She can sing. But singing is not what is being celebrated here. Miss Boyle may have achieved her celebrity on a programme called (with suitable disregard for grammar) Britain's Got Talent, but her fame is based on her ordinariness. Unlike most famous women, she does not resemble a blow-up doll. She has not been "styled", or had botulism injected into the sunken corners of her face. She looks like what she is: a church volunteer from the rusty buckle of the Central Belt. She is, according to The Guardian's overweight columnist Miss Tanya Gold, a "munter". Miss Gold, while not easily confused with Miss Dorothy Parker, is one of Miss Boyle's supporters.
What a strange and perverse world it is that ordinariness should be viewed as being so peculiar. I have known many Susan Boyles. The church is full of them, though usually their talent is expressed in traybakes or melting moments, and not through song. But we have had our share in The Peebles Showboaters; of actors, singers and dancers, some of them as handy with a tune as Miss Boyle, some of them less good-looking, but none of them driven enough to subject themselves to a trial in which the judges, the munter-gatherers, are Mr Simon Cowell - a man whose smile is comprised of artificial teeth so large that they can be viewed from outer space - and Mr Piers Morgan, whose self-love is such that his dressing room mirror could be excused if it collapsed through nervous exhaustion.
My point is straightforward enough. Miss Boyle could sing before she was served up as a high-definition dish on teatime television. She lived a good life with her cat Pebbles, harming no one. That, I think, was her gift. Now she is being patronised by the planet at large. We munters must hope that she, and her blessed pipes, make it through to the other side.