3 thoughts on “Susan Boyle. Kicks ass….”

  1. Thanks for the link!

    I really liked it too, but I’m fascinated by the judges’ and audience’s initial reaction to her. When the judges talk about what an amazing surprise it was, I’m really curious as to exactly what surprised them: is it that her appearance and self-presentation are unpolished? Is it her body shape? Her age? Something about her led the judges (and apparently the audience) to expect that she would be no good, and I’m really curious as to what they were reacting to.

    Have you seen other clips from that show? The only ones I’ve seen have been the ones where someone unexpectedly wows everyone (have you seen Paul Potts‘s audition?), and I love those (especially when Simon Cowell is impressed)–but I’m guessing that a lot of the show involves tearing people apart for not being very good.

    So it’s possible that the audience and judges weren’t expecting much simply because they hear a lot of people who aren’t very good, like reading a slushpile and being surprised at a good story by an unknown author.

    But I did get the impression with Susan Boyle that they expected particularly little from her, and I’m wondering why.

    And I also wonder whether the show intentionally doesn’t polish the auditioners’ appearance and presentation, in order to set up more of a surprise when the person turns out to be really good.

  2. Aha–yep, that is indeed what I wanted. Kate Harding (and associates) FTW, as usual. Thank you for pointing me there!

    In addition to the factors Harding mentioned in the comments thread, here are a couple of relevant quotes from the judges, in case you’re interested:

    At least two members of the show’s judging panel have said they judged Boyle on her looks when she first appeared on stage before them. Based on the somewhat disheveled state of her baggy dress and wild hair  they admitted they didn’t expect much.

    “It’s a very shallow thing to say but, obviously, the minute she walked onstage we all, and the audience, completely judged her on her appearance and everything else. And I hate saying that. But, you know, that true cliche, we judged a book by its cover,” said judge Amanda Holden in an interview Friday on the CBS “Early Show.”

    NY Daily News article

    And:

    It was one of the most unexpected things Ive ever seen in my life. Before she came on, we had a whole day of very bad auditions — eight hours of pretty grim acts doing pretty talentless things — and wed all had just about enough. Then on comes this woman and shes going to sing like Elaine Page, and were all like, Oh no, youre not.

    […]

    Contrary to popular myth, we dont get any warning at all about what the acts will be like. […] we thought she was just going to be a bit of a joke and wed all have a good laugh and wed all go back to bed and think, What a terrible day that was!

    EW mini-interview with Piers Morgan

    So … I’m guessing there was some judging by appearances, reinforced by a day of particularly bad auditions beforehand. (And, as Harding noted, by many other bad auditions previously, as well as by editing that set up viewers with certain standard reality-show expectations.)

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