On air: Has Susan Boyle revealed a world of prejudice?

Susan BoyleWhere to start with this story? We could do a week of shows about the issues it raises. Here’s the video that started it all and here are some questions.

How much of your reaction to Susan Boyle’s original performance on Britain’s Got Talent (64 million views and counting) was dictated by her appearance? Did the fact she’s not particularly good-looking, a little over-weight and single increase your surprise?

And now she’s lost. Why did the British public turn against her when she was the hottest favourite to win? Why are so many bloggers being rude about the person they call SuBo?

Might it have been because it became increasingly uncomfortable watching a woman with learning difficulties? Did her occasionally odd behaviour begin to annoy us?

And did we start resenting her for failing to embrace the experience our attention was giving her? Did we not like that she didn’t like every part of it? Did we get annoyed with her for not following our script?

Whatever it was something happened, because in days she went from being feted around the world, to be being boo-ed on air and be slagged off online.

And now she’s been taken by ambulance to The Priory Clinic in London to be treated for exhaustion.
Who’s fault is that? All of us who watched her? The TV show producers? Or Susan Boyle’s for entering a show and taking on everything that came with that?

I sometimes wish we had far more than an hour…

97 Responses to “On air: Has Susan Boyle revealed a world of prejudice?”

  1. 1 patti in cape coral
    June 1, 2009 at 15:18

    Believe it or not, I have never seen the now famous Susan Boyle footage. I have seen some comments that say that she was not forced to sing, and a lot of people don’t make it, this is not singling her out in any way, but I can’t help but think if she has learning disabilities she didn’t understand all the consequences of her decisions. I don’t know how severe her learning disabilities are, but for her, maybe it was really as simple as loving music and singing, and wanting to do it for the rest of her life, and she didn’t understand how fickle the public can be. Should the media have protected her? The media doesn’t owe anyone anything. They could have shown more restraint and kidness, that would have been nice, but the media is not really known for being nice.

  2. June 1, 2009 at 15:21

    James From Kenya

    The fact that the pop-culture world has never seen anyone contestant like her made her a polarising character. The world hates “ugly & fat” we are just too “polite” to say it. I think her appearance on Showbiz at this time, was a blessing in disguise so that we can know how ugly our hearts are. The world we live in is all about sexy looks to complement talent. Oh its true its darn TRUE.

  3. June 1, 2009 at 15:23

    I do think the media reports about Ms Boyle have revealed prejudice. Had she been a male singer no one would have been surprised at the wonderful voice.

  4. 4 deryck/trinidad
    June 1, 2009 at 15:25

    The crowd is fickle and the truth hurts. The fact is that many people just jumped on the media bandwagon but not many people really liked her because she doesn’t fit the bill of beauty and brains although she is exceptionally talented. She was an eccentricity that caused cognitive dissonance among the viewers as they couldn’t couple the talent with her physical appearance and mental problems.

    Indeed a large portion of the world is prejudiced and cruel to those that are diferent to them and this story shows the deep underlying problems facing people who may be diferently abled or considered unattractive by the main stream.

  5. 5 RightPaddock
    June 1, 2009 at 15:27

    Maybe the Brits are fed up with pollsters, bookies & media savants telling them what they’re expected to do. So in collective unconscious defiance they’ve voted for someone else, anyone else.

    I’ve seen the same thing happen in quite a few elections of late, not in the UK of course where you only need 23% of the vote to win the dictatorship government.

    So take your pick, blame the punditocracy or the blame the revolting public or blame yourselves for boring the public out of their apathy.

  6. 6 Michel Norman
    June 1, 2009 at 15:28

    To be honest, I read about her on the BBC and then went into U-tube as background for some work I was doing so I heard her the first time without seeing. Personally I would have given my vote to the guy with the saxaphone and thought the music for the winning group was positively painful – but then I grew up in the seventies liking John Denver and hating the Who, pink floyd and so on.

    British people love to be best, they think it’s their god-given right – whether it be football, their army whatever – and expectations like that cannot be met. Britain seems to me to be a pretty violent place to live, whether that means the daily knifings or the verbal abuse of this middle aged lady.

  7. 7 Ivan Mark RadhakrishnanRadhakrishnan
    June 1, 2009 at 15:45

    Monday June 1 2009 / 16:39 (MwT) / 14:39 GMT

    Whatever our opinion, what happened to Susan Boyle is sad.

    Appearance is skin deep but unfortunately the world does judge us on it.

    Hopefully Susan Boyle will recover and take up the challenge. She does have a truly remarkable voice and I have hardly listened to her sing.

  8. 8 Muthee in Nairobi
    June 1, 2009 at 15:45

    Oh yes she did, and also revealed a rotten and heartless British tabloid press as well.

  9. 9 nengak
    June 1, 2009 at 15:47

    I haven’t been following much of her progress, but I think the public wanted to make her its little Susan; someone who will ever be grateful to the public for giving her a surprised chance, now they have turned their backs on her, seeing that she is carrying on as if the public does not matter at all.
    Guess its a way of getting even.
    Poor Susan, you should have known that you are a servant of the viewers, therefore, you should have given them something to love you for… Hope she gets out of the hospital soonest.

  10. June 1, 2009 at 15:56

    The case of Susan Boyle acting strange in the final shows that too much expectations can be harmful.

    As there is the shock of failure there is also the stress of success. It’s all about keeping one’s mental balance in face of whatever situation, especially if it goes against one’s expectations.

    Maybe if Susan Boyle had been younger and looking sexy, she could have won more vote to allow her to come first. Her voice didn’t seem to impress altogether as the look also had its part to play.

    After the shock, she should be left alone away from the inquisitive media reports. She should be helped to come to normal life or rather down to Earth after a period of being elevated in the high sky of fame and expectations.

  11. June 1, 2009 at 16:06

    I think it only reveals the exploitive viciousness of this type of television show. Has no one thought to write a story about the winners? They didn’t get to the finals without a lot of backing, did they?
    Since I never watch so-called “reality shows”, I wasn’t familiar with the Brit show’s or the U.S. version’s “stars”, and saw any of them unless they made our public broadcasting system news programs(PBS or NPR). ‘Why do these sadistic shows exist’, would be a better question.

    • 12 patti in cape coral
      June 1, 2009 at 16:58

      Who was it that said there is very little “reality” in reality TV? I don’t watch reality shows either, they just seem very mean spirited and vicious, and I just feel very uncomfortable watching them. It just seems like the public has a big appetite for cruelty. It reminds me of the gladiators in the arena, with the christians and the lions and such. I’m not crazy about the way the media does things either, but they are only following the demand. A majority of us enjoy this, the meaner the better, and the media will continue to show it as long as there is a demand for it.

  12. 13 Andrew in Australia
    June 1, 2009 at 16:14

    Partly prejudice mostly ignorance. People in general are unhappy about many things in their lives and they want to project perfection onto those they look up to, whether they be successful entertainers, leaders, celebrities, etc. But, like all of us, no one is perfect and they have their flaws some more obvious than others. In the case of those most feted such as entertainers the world places them on such a high pedestal, individuals who enter that world with more than their fair share of character flaws and personal issues to begin with. But to see them unravel or reveal their human sides is almost an insult to those who admire them and hold them up to that lofty ideal of perfection. So what to do other than to denigrate them, hold them in contepmt for failing them or to punish them for not living up to the image they created or were created for them. After all it is easier to blame others for their failings than to accept their own imperfections or unfulfilled desires. An actor friend once said to me, people can become truly unfriendly when they approach you and expect you to be the person you portrayed in a film or on TV. It is your fault if you don’t meet their perceptions or measure up to their expectations.

  13. 14 jamily5
    June 1, 2009 at 16:33

    Ok, I have to admit that I am free this monday and decided to check out WHYS: haven’t been here in a while. I don’t watch TV and although I do like to frequent BBC radio, don’t go for the Idol type of shows. So, Susan Boil was new to me. I am still not sure how she acted or what she did to fall out of favor with the public. And, I only heard her voice and still (except for bbc reporting) know what she looks like. Her voice is pretty good, but it does seem that the public was playing her up for other reasons. Ok, so she lost and suffered a bit of a break down. Others probably do to, it is just not broadcast on the media. I was surprised that she was 47, as I thought that they wanted their idols to be a bit younger. I wonder if she was not exploited a bit for a good story. But, who isn’t and that is public life. Maybe she learned some things from this. The good thing about the public is that in a few months, they will be talking about something else and it won’t matter.

  14. June 1, 2009 at 16:38

    These idol shows demonstrate the fatuous superficiality of modern popular culture – the producers, hosts, sponsors, fans – all float on a shallow pond of celebrity worship.

    Anyone who thinks there’s any measure of genuine populism in these idol shows, should think again. As soon as they take the stage each contestant is an instant celebrity and that’s what it’s all about – a cult of celebrity. These feverish amateurs are more celebrated than most life-long, serious, dedicated artists, who, in these anti-intellectual times of anti-excellence and unstudied faux art, are practically forced to beg in the street like buskers.

    Moreover, every question posed in the premise to this discussion shows that the producers of this show are no better educated, nor more appreciative of the fine and performing arts than the millions of punters who drool over these pathetic idols.

  15. 16 John in Salem
    June 1, 2009 at 16:53

    As much as we like to root for the underdog and enjoy stories about the little guy who beats the odds, people want their icons to be glamorous.
    There is some pre-screening for these shows, and my guess is that the producers realized she had talent and that talent would have a greater impact if it came as a sharp contrast to her appearance, so they likely encouraged her to play up the dowdy spinster and it worked. We were awed by it.
    But it’s not the producer’s job to screen people for their ability to handle media attention. Susan Boyle had her moment in the sun but in the process threw herself to the wolves. Someone probably should have warned her that this is an industry that eats people, even people who fit the popular image of “beautiful”. She could have been the most outstanding singer of our time and it wouldn’t have made any diffence. She was ideal tabloid fodder and never really stood a chance.
    It’s a shame we so quickly forget that true beauty (and talent)is more often found among the likes of Susan Boyle than those we put on pedestals.

  16. 17 Tom K in Mpls
    June 1, 2009 at 16:55

    First topic flopped eh? Personally I listen to singers. If personality, looks and speech were important, how would these singers have succeeded: Barbra Streisand, Joe Cocker, Mell Tillis, Osgood Osbourne……

  17. June 1, 2009 at 16:58

    If there are more, I haven’t seen ALL of Susan’s performances — just the videos of her first performance and the one of her singing “Memories” from Cats. I have to say that the “Memories” performance was really wobbly compared to the Les Miserables song. I was surprised to see the gap between the two. As someone who was an “ugly duckling” growing up, I can sympathize with her. But as a lifelong musician, I can say that I think that song was her doom on the show. If anything, the media is making her loss into something it wasn’t. As far as I can tell, she simply underperformed and lost.

    But if that guy with the crazy falsetto wins, I’m going to fly to the UK just to smack someone around. 😉

    • 19 Jessica in NYC
      June 1, 2009 at 17:56

      Excellent point that was missed in the intro. This is a talent show and based on talent and the song she preformed did not out do the group that won.

      LOL– Btw, I thought the Diversity group won, but I’m not a good source. I did not watch, but read the articles regarding it and watched a short youtube clip.

  18. 20 deryck/trinidad
    June 1, 2009 at 17:06

    The world does pre-judge you based on physical appearance, actions and speech. We can’t escape that.

    It’s all about the ratings, the sponsors and the money those sponsors inject. That’s the bottom line. (As long as the story sells, sell it at all cost.) The motto of the media.

    • 21 Jessica in NYC
      June 1, 2009 at 17:51

      I agree, but let’s not forget we are the ones watching the shows, buying the magazines and reading the articles. The media is in essence feeding the appetite for this kind of non-sense.

      You and I may not the the ones “buying” into this, but there are many people who are and isn’t that the supply and demand of it all?

  19. 22 Peter panDa
    June 1, 2009 at 17:13

    Its seem typical of human behaviour. The reasons varied as you might suggest and all I can say is God bless Susan Boye with a good voice , I hope she can cut an album to enjoy her voice.

  20. 23 Jessica in NYC
    June 1, 2009 at 17:20

    I cannot image living under the scrutiny that anyone who raises to fame goes under.

    The internet has sensationalized every uninteresting aspect of famous and would-be famous people’s lives. The public has a unsatisfiable appetite for minute by minute details of celebrities every move. Ms. Boyle was loved for being one of “us” everyday people and now the public attention has turned to negative for not conforming to a celerity mold. It’s not surprising that she needs some time out to decompress from this circus.

  21. 24 Dave in Florida
    June 1, 2009 at 17:32

    Yes, this world belongs to the self proclaimed “beautiful people.” Get over it! It always has and always will. However, we “average folks” are the ones who propel these people to their lofty heights so we have no one to blame but ourselves.

    As for Miss Boyle, I truly do feel sorry for her. Not because of any disability she may have, or her less-then-flattering appearance; rather because this woman just wanted to sing and the British people seemed to pity her because of these differences. Think about and be honest – would you have voted for her if she were “just another face in the crowd?” Most likely not.

  22. 25 Anthony
    June 1, 2009 at 17:51

    I think it has a lot to do with demographics. I’m sure there was a ton of younger people voting over and over for the “more kid/youth friendly” dance troop (I didn’t watch the show, so had to look it up). Also, in all talent shows it’s very hard for a singer to beat out a dancer. Add the fact that after you watch her a gazillion times online/ on t.v., it losers it’s luster after a while.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  23. 26 archibald in oregon
    June 1, 2009 at 18:02

    The general public seems to love the suffering of others as a way of offsetting the feeling they have about their own pathetic existences. Imagine sitting for hours and watching other people live life as you sneer and cheer as though you were actually living it along with them.
    Thanks John Q. Public and media industry for ruining another unsuspecting soul with your fickle self loathing………….
    Bravo Susan, you will always be a star in my eyes……

  24. 27 Bob in Queensland
    June 1, 2009 at 18:02

    I suspect the rapid rise and fall of Susan Boyle says more about the fickleness of the popular press than prejudice in the British people. The tabloids love to “build ’em up and tear ’em down”. For what’s it’s worth, I didn’t see the final show down here in Australia…but every one of my UK friends and relatives tells me that, on the night, the better act won.

  25. 28 Robert
    June 1, 2009 at 18:03

    What is sad about this is that the gossip columns have made this all about sad events of the runner up. The media played a part in puting on the pressure and now benifit from the mess. The attention should be on winners of this talent competition. I feel sorry that their deserved 15 minutes of fame has been overshadowed.

    • 29 Jessica in NYC
      June 1, 2009 at 18:46

      Eh, they’re kids. Give a little while to get into trouble and we’ll all be talking about them.

      All jokes aside, I think Ms. Boyle’s hospitalization is what caused the media frenzy. The kids will have their 15 minutes and more of fame.

  26. 30 Buggles
    June 1, 2009 at 18:03

    Video killed the radio star back in ’79.

  27. 31 Christina in Indiana
    June 1, 2009 at 18:06

    I think the globe-based media system has skewed our standards greatly – at any second we can see, hear, and practically touch the most beautiful people on earth. Ms. Boyle defied expectations because (interestingly) she used this global system to circumvent its greatest threat to our objectivity. Personally I applaud her courage, as a potentially powerful backlash was inevitable from the start.

  28. 32 Morf
    June 1, 2009 at 18:09

    Everyone has a gift – and Susan Boyle clearly has a voice that is compelling and memorable.

    Why is it so difficult to recognize her purely for that?

    Yes, the media has savaged her – but consider the human shell that used to be Michael Jackson.

    Gushing attention from the media makes anyone crazy. In the USA, the name of the program is “American Idol”. At least in Britain, the contestants, presumably, have “talent” whereas in America they aspire to be “idols”. The end result is probably the same – an exercise in public vanity – and sometimes embarrassment.

  29. 33 steve
    June 1, 2009 at 18:14

    I’m curious, why wasn’t there a show on what losers and failures the Silver and Bronze medal winners of the Olympics are? Come on, she came in second place and has record deals and will be rich.

  30. 34 steve
    June 1, 2009 at 18:21

    Don’t forget the opposite, that very attractive people, especially women, are considered to be stupid by society. Anyone ever see the James Bond movie where Denise Richards plays a physicist? She one, doesn’t look like a psycisist, sounded like an absolute idiot, and hence why that movie was so funny given you wouldn’t expect a woman of model looks to be a physicist. It goes both ways, people presumed she couldn’t sing because of her appearance, and others think women of high beauty are stupid, and hollywood will play that up like they did in James Bond.

  31. 35 Raydan
    June 1, 2009 at 18:21

    Yes I think she does represent a world of predjudice. Look how Simon seemed to lite up when he heard her voice. I think there are many people in this world that are challenged in many ways that are very foreign to most people . I hope to hear her do opera if she is capable.

  32. 36 A.J.
    June 1, 2009 at 18:23

    Yay for Ms. Boyle. Second is good. Especially for someone who had no intention of becoming this famous. Yes, she is talented and sings beautifully. Her family, friends and neighbors all knew it. But, so what? Many, many people have incredible talent and are never “discovered”. And, frankly, had it NOT been for her lack of celebrity beauty, she would have been treated very differently. Upon seeing her for the first time, the audience, very cynically, expected nothing from her. It is precisely because they expected nothing that it seemed SO fantastic. Any “beautiful” person who might have sung like that would have been judged much more critically. I would even say that only a frumpy, middle aged woman or perhaps a five year old with that voice would even make it that far. Good luck getting back to life as it was Ms. Boyle. I kind of feel sorry for her.

  33. 37 Scott [M]
    June 1, 2009 at 18:23


    The public loved and destroyed Susan Boyle, because it is rotten and infested with ignorance and a lack of intelligence. The success of reality shows are a reflection of the pathetic nature of the average person. That shows like this have become popular entertainment is what should concern us. It would be one thing if there popularity relied on a true quest for talent, but they equally rely on humiliation. All the world laughing at how sad and pathetic they think a human being is. This is what we have become, like little children teasing and torturing defenseless animals—except this is worse, because we do it collectively.

  34. 38 Tom D Ford
    June 1, 2009 at 18:24

    Here’s what I think:

    “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.” – Antoine de St. Exupery

    Thank you Susan Boyle, for getting so many people to see with their hearts.

  35. 39 steve
    June 1, 2009 at 18:31

    Also, are we going to have a show about Octomom? She has signed her own TV deal. If she throws a tantrum because people hate her, will we have to have a show about her?

    There’s simply way too much narcissism going around these days.

  36. 40 patti in cape coral
    June 1, 2009 at 18:34

    There is a frenetic, speeded up pace to entertainment nowadays, just always concentrating on the next thing. Maybe we all have attention deficit disorder and the media is always trying to keep up with us, because we can’t keep our attention on any one thing for very long.

  37. 41 Tom D Ford
    June 1, 2009 at 18:34

    @ steve
    June 1, 2009 at 18:21

    “Don’t forget the opposite, that very attractive people, especially women, are considered to be stupid by society.”

    And society is so wrong.

    Examples are the physicist Lisa Randall, the astronauts American Megan McArthur PhD and Canadian Medical Doctor Julie Payette, the woman who headed the Los Alamos Mathematics Department Team on on the Z Machine doing science on Fusion, and so many others. All could make any high fashion magazine cover as great beauties.

  38. 42 Thomas
    June 1, 2009 at 18:35

    The story of SB is by no means unique, in fact it is engineered from start to finish. Compare to the story of Paul Potts about a year ago. Same images, same plot – but it still sells. It’s somewhat disturbing to see how people fall for such repetition.

  39. 43 Mary/ Florida
    June 1, 2009 at 18:36

    Susan can sing, she doesn’t look like all the other “normal” contestants that we have come to like, she has every right to live her dream so let her live it, we don’t see all the people who make all these comments what do you look like what if that someone did something and then got all this attention. no one can handle the same thing the same way.

  40. June 1, 2009 at 18:37

    I hopped on the Susan Boyle band wagon near the end of the hype…After two seconds of watching her performance I became a fan for life.

    Her personality is endearing, which make her beautiful. The media needs to stop fighting this battle of beauty for her…because clearly she is happy with the way she looks and if it does not bother her, why should it bother all others.

    Lastly anybody, even those with great confidence and beauty, would be nervous and act out of ordinary in front of millions of viewers.


  41. 45 Kim Lauritsen
    June 1, 2009 at 18:38

    I find there is a great difference in a person’s expectations of “entertainers” and “artists”. From movies to music, there are the eye candy we go to for escapism, and the artists who we go to for inspiration. I think the problem comes when people have the talent for a chosen repertoire, but don’t meet the physical expectations for their fach.
    WCPN Cleveland, Ohio

  42. 46 Scott [M]
    June 1, 2009 at 18:38


    What I’m shocked about: that people seem to love Simon Cowell. He has always seemed average, cheesy, thoroughly unsophisticated and tacky. His criticism is terribly middle class and his ego is overwhelming. Apparently the majority of the public likes this. What a collective bad taste the world has!


    This was an utterly cliched and gimmicky performance.

  43. 47 margot in oregon
    June 1, 2009 at 18:38

    I think we are all quite prejudiced about people based on their appearance. Personally I was thrilled when Susan Boyle won her first round. Now I would like to see any future career be totally dependent on what she is comfortable with. She does have a beautiful voice. If she can do that without losing who she really is, that would be wonderful. Please don’t try to do a makeover on her.

  44. 48 steve
    June 1, 2009 at 18:39

    How come news organizations only hire attractive people to be on news programs? How come there are no people with faces made for radio (no offense to the WHYS, which is certainly not the case for them) on TV? Can’t remember the last time I have seen any network news program where the newscaster has not been an attractive person.

    Say if Susan Boyle had a great speaking voice, didn’t read blindly from teleprompters, do you think she would be hired for MSNBC to read the news? I don’t think so.

  45. 49 Tom K in Mpls
    June 1, 2009 at 18:39

    In reply to Ros’ on air question: I listened once because it was brought up here. I heard a much better than average voice that was singing in a style I don’t care for. I didn’t listen to the whole clip. Simple and done.

  46. 50 Peter in Jamaica
    June 1, 2009 at 18:39

    What people have failed to remember s the the show is “Britain’s Got Talent” not “Britain’s Beautiful and Sexy People Got Talent” and that is what the people have forgotten about this show. Not everybody that has talent is sexy and beautiful what has happened is that the expectations are that they are expected to be.

  47. 51 ecotopian
    June 1, 2009 at 18:40

    I think people might be upset because she didn’t have the Hollywood ending. You know the movie, a person comes out of nowhere with some great talent and then goes on to fame and fortune. We’ve been primed by Hollywood for these kinds of for those sorts of endings and we get mad when they don’t happen in real life.

    I have never heard her sing all the way through. Just snippets. She has a nice voice. It just didn’t bowl me over. I heard it, had my reaction, and went on. It had nothing to do with her looks. I don’t like musicals and their songs do nothing for me.

  48. 52 Phyllis , Naples Florida
    June 1, 2009 at 18:40

    Interestingly, We were introduced to Susan Boyle’s voice and not her video.

    Our first encounter with that voice did not include any visuals and we were literally stopped in our tracts.

    There is something in her singing that one feels and not just hears.

    I just don’t get the surprise being expressed . Here in the US , and in most of the world homely people are performing everywhere.

    Are all of you just not getting out enough????

  49. June 1, 2009 at 18:41

    This is glorified karaoke. It certainly isn’t news. Shows like those basically support big media libraries by having syndicated shows use libraried tunes. It also supports the false “cinderella story” of instant discovered talent and “just add water” fame that absurdly lazy consumers seem to think is justified. This really takes the power away from working music artists and stagnates the song pool by not encouraging artists to develop original material.
    Isn’t there some real news for you to cover?
    OMG an unglamorous overly televised karaoke contestant! Stop the press!

  50. 54 Peter in Jamaica
    June 1, 2009 at 18:41

    What people have failed to remember s the the show is “Britain’s Got Talent” not “Britain’s Beautiful and Sexy People Got Talent” and that is what the people have forgotten about this show. Not everybody that has talent is sexy and beautiful what has happened is that the expectations are that they are expected to be, or cute little kids.

  51. 55 Anthony
    June 1, 2009 at 18:45

    @ steve

    I know EXACTLY what you mean. People always think (me being hispanic, and I’ve been told I’m above average in the looks dept.)I’m a dumb, conceded, punk who got his job by his looks and has no idea how to hold a decent conversation. It’s the first hurdle I need to jump everywhere I need to make a first impression.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  52. 56 Bonnie
    June 1, 2009 at 18:45

    Britain’s may have talent but settles for celebrity — as does the US.

  53. 57 Sierra - USA
    June 1, 2009 at 18:45

    I have to agree with Karim who was on the air earlier. I didn’t know anything about Susan Boyle until the BBC and other media sources mentioned not only her performance but her appearance as a perfectly drab woman. Plenty of opera singers have appeared on America’s Got Talent and no one has really mentioned their appearance at all. Regardless of Ros’ naysaying… the initial reaction of the BGT audience and judges would probably never have impacted folks around the world if it hadn’t have been blown up by the media. Meanwhile, Susan Boyle is not a pop singer. Her appearance probably wouldn’t have mattered in her genre it is hadn’t been made a point of interest by the tabloids.

  54. 58 brinda
    June 1, 2009 at 18:47


    Sorry for being rude can you please let your callers speak. It is your job i agree to keep the discussion focused but of 4 speakers 3 could not even complete what they have to say.

    As for the the in question,,,, what happened to her is the stroy every where today.So much importance is given to apreaence of a person that realy talented are ignored . Good apearnce and half the breain will do.Hence this world is where it is.

  55. 59 Raydan
    June 1, 2009 at 18:47

    Yes I think we are prejudice as far as appearance. Could we also be guilty of envy and homophobia? how about bitchy and impatient Maybe jaded and perverse? Wealthy but not wise? Wastful and not caring?

  56. 60 Phyllis , Naples Florida
    June 1, 2009 at 18:47

    What on earth does looks have to do with appearance????????

  57. 61 Gretchen
    June 1, 2009 at 18:47

    I think the Susan Boyle story absolutely reveals a prejudice regarding physical appearance. As a mother of a three year old daughter, I struggle to balance the issue of attempting to teach my daughter that looks are not everything despite media and cultural pressures and the fact that we must be realistic about our appearances having an impact on our impressions on others. This is absolutely a contradition! But it’s a matter of balancing the desire to change the world with handling the realities of where we are right now.

  58. 62 Anthony
    June 1, 2009 at 18:49

    I don’t know why people are making such a huge deal about this! She got 2nd place, thats not too bad. Remember that Chinese girl who needed a proxy singer because she wasn’t “pretty enough”, there should have been more of a rise about that than this this!.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  59. 63 Phyllis , Naples Florida
    June 1, 2009 at 18:50


    What on earth does looks have to do with having a lovely voice?????

    When last have you been backstage at the opera? Before makeup???????

  60. 64 Marija Liudvika Rutkauskaite
    June 1, 2009 at 18:50

    Hello! Thank you very much for providing this slot.
    I am sorry I cannot say much of “the world of prejudice” but it seems to me that the media tend to be immodest and indiscreet with the person in ther spotlight – the focus too broad, the time too long and all the details (including the least attractive) exaggerated. That is why it might be too difficult for the person to rise steadily to the victory/glory/success.
    More composure from the media, respect and more discretion might make the personal experience more intense but also more dignified. Do you know that there are people who are ripped off their performing powers by a too loud announcement of their name? Young children’s secrecy with their names is another case in point. I must compliment, though, the BBC for their correctness with the people in the news. I also appreciate the factor of social stratification which may have an influence. In societies in which social stratification is inconspicuous, the media may overstep the limit of decency and can make one a VIP, a star, the name (or a failure) on biased or dubious support, on the potential of his/her purse or on the person’s own public permissiveness, which may be embarrassing to the viewers. Not so long ago, stage performers were dubious society, now they’ve become high society thanks to the media. “Something does not balance in this…arithmetic”. Thank you

  61. 65 Phyllis , Naples Florida
    June 1, 2009 at 18:52

    Just think Ronan Tynan..


    June 1, 2009 at 18:52

    We are living in unhappy and ironical times hence am not supprised at the turn of this event.

    For a casual observer, there is a lot of attractive and learned people wherever you go. Scrutinize them a little bit and you will see how edgy and unhappy they are. Their motto is to cut all the tall poppies out there. No president is good enough, no mornachy is good enough, no country is good enough. They are energetic too and are in each and every hot spot and they are the opion movers and executors of judgement on virtue. At their mercy, you can be loved, hated, embarrased or even get bombed for no reason and. Pardon me, what was the show about? Boyle should have known better. May be the only reason she was brought around was nothing more than heightening the egos of those who were going to ‘win’.
    By now Boyle should know the difference between music and celebrity and stick to what she is good at; SINGING, is no doubt in her soul and it will make her recover.

  63. 67 Phyllis , Naples Florida
    June 1, 2009 at 18:57

    No Ros,

    We just want her talent remain available outside of Scotland

  64. 68 Sofia
    June 1, 2009 at 18:58

    Let’s be real. We deal with people based on how they look. We are culturalised that way. That is the unadulterated truth. It is the reason the fashion and beauty, and diet industries make so much money. It is the reason some teenagers are bulimic or anorexic. it is the reason people do plastic surgery at great risk and expense.

    Susan Boyle is a part of this world like we all are, and that is our ugly reality, but it still is the fact. Susan’s hope to surmount this discrimination may have been the talent show. But that hope was dashed, and she is hurting. that is not unusual. That is only human.

  65. 69 Dan, Ghana
    June 1, 2009 at 18:59

    I do not understand why people are surprised at how she was treated badly because her “looks” are so different from her strong musical talent. There is a lot of hypocrisy here because millions of other people have suffered acts of prejudice, racism and mistreatment because they looked very different from us and our expectations.

  66. 70 Tom D Ford
    June 1, 2009 at 19:03

    If you want to really know about beauty go out and find the ugliest woman in the world and ask her small child who is the most beautiful woman in the world. I’d bet the answer would be “my mom”.

  67. 71 Judi
    June 1, 2009 at 19:03

    Perhaps it was not the combination of her talent that was unexpected given her appearance, but rather her BRAVERY and CONFIDENCE in her talent that surprised so many people. Talent is not conferred only on the comely, but evenly among all. However, our cultures tend to underappreciate the value to be offered by those considered less attractive and/or older.

  68. June 1, 2009 at 19:04

    I am appaled at some of these comments. Of course this world is built around the beautiful, but I was hoping for just a minute we had grown from that. Susans actions of going into the contest alone is a testiment of her bravery, or perhaps just innocence. I would like to think that that was what the world fell in love with along with her voice. People calling her horrific names shows how shallow the world can be, why can’t we enjoy her accomplishments rather than slander her.

  69. 73 Scott [M]
    June 1, 2009 at 19:06


    Being pretty and people thinking you are stupid—is a lot different from being ugly and people thinking you have no talent. They are not the opposite of each other, it is a poor comparison. Being perceived ugly and presumed talentless has two negatives occurring. Thought I’d set the record straight on that, before we feel too much sympathy for all the pretty people!

  70. 74 Allan
    June 1, 2009 at 19:44

    Kudos to Jerry Boyle for his brotherly good sense and compassion and to Susan Boyle for her talent. I haven’t watched Britain’s Got Talent, except the occasional YouTube clip forwarded by someone who keeps better track of media than I do. Paul Potts was not handsome but sings well. As an American who is not happy with what passes for popular singing talent in the US these days, it’s refreshing to see singers who can present a song without ululating, warbling, glissando-ing, and shouting.

  71. 75 Brooke, USA
    June 1, 2009 at 19:45

    As a 49 year old housewife and past singer, I feel watched Susan Boyle’s video with tears running down my face and do whenever I see it. It’s possible that a woman that age who would present herself in that forum may be a bit mad to start with, but I feel like she was striking an inspirational blow for me, personally. Maybe what we don’t expect is to see people fulfill their dreams.

  72. 76 Eric, Sarasota, FL
    June 1, 2009 at 19:47

    It wasn’t so much the talent or appearance as the timing. Like the horse “Seabiscuit” in the last world depression/recession, she represents the underappreciated, the low expectations of society unable to predict its future. Plus, it was a surprise, and that’s fun. I heard Boyle two days after the audition performance (friends in Liverpool), so I watched before the hype started, and it just felt good after all this trouble.

  73. 77 Janet, NC
    June 1, 2009 at 19:48

    I think Susan Boyle looked perfectly fine on her first appearance. If she is considered unattractive, then most women worldwide might as well give up on being considered attractive. Also, If you look back a generation or two, glamorous appearance was not a prerequisite for being a popular singer. (It still isn’t for opera, as we all know.) In my youth Kate Smith was a very popular singer and her appearance was very similar to Susan Boyle’s. However, the most disturbing thing about this whole episode is the shamelessly insensitive way the judges on Britain’s Got Talent and the media–including WHYS–talk about Susan Boyle as if she were an object and not a thinking, feeling human person.

  74. 78 Mike, Portland
    June 1, 2009 at 19:50

    We need to take care of her. We all created this persona and swept her away with it. Reality can be brutal, but we can help her through it.

  75. 79 Frederick, Boston
    June 1, 2009 at 19:52

    In discussing the Susan Boyle situation, I think it would be great to ask the Oprah Winfreys and Larry Kings of the world why they were so eager to have Susan on their shows. Their response, I believe, will be revealing in understanding a bit about ourselves as human beings.

  76. 80 Jesse, Oregon
    June 1, 2009 at 19:54

    This has nothing to do with the fact that she is a woman, but a lot to do with looks. A few years ago this same phenomenon happened with a cell phone salesman who could sing incredible opera (Paul Potts, I think). We don’t expect someone who looks like our mother, or next door neighbor to have this high level of talent.

  77. 81 Teresa, Portland, Oregon
    June 1, 2009 at 19:55

    My mother and I have watched the first video over one hundred times and we are still watching it. However, as the expectations of the world/audience rose, I believe our expections of Susan’s behavior rose as well. Behavior that was considered quaint and very much a sweet part of the unexpected audition has become uncomfortable. Why? I don’t know. I’m very much on Susan’s side, but it was much harder to watch the final post-chat (with her cat petting and such) without turning away in discomfort.

  78. 82 Ross
    June 1, 2009 at 19:57

    I watched the video of Susan Boyle because it was shoved down my throat on this and other radio and television programs. I wish Susan the best of luck and I hope it all works out for her, but I couldn’t possible care less about this story. These types of TV talent shows are a mindless waste of time and they fail to display any valuable culture or art. I hate them.

  79. 83 Margaret
    June 1, 2009 at 20:00

    What is all this rubbish about how Susan Boyle looks or that she needs a quiet rest!!!!
    First of all she looks like many famous singers such as Marion Anderson. Why on earth does this matter. Second of all she is basically an introvert, and of course she needs a rest now. I am an introvert, and although like Susan I can do extroverted things I need a lot of quiet time alone for re-energizing. Susan is inexperience in dealing with the press and needs a press agent. Hopefully she will get one and I really hope she makes several CD’s.

  80. 84 Fred, Tervuren, Belgium
    June 1, 2009 at 20:01

    What happened to Paul Potts, who was not the stereotype either? Can any parallels be drawn?

  81. 85 Eric, Norway
    June 1, 2009 at 20:03

    The show was about exploitation.. You have to have an ugly duckling, she was never going to win. No matter how great the talent.It is all about Cowell’s bank account. Nothing more.

  82. 86 henry
    June 1, 2009 at 20:04

    Unfortunately the majority of the public is biased. Were Susan Boyle to have an hour glass figure and an attractive face and hairdo I have no doubt she would have won.

  83. June 1, 2009 at 20:05

    I am a trained vocalist. Soprano. I study vocals and can hear when someone is off key, or not breathing properly.

    This woman clearly should have won. I thought the first judge was passing judgment on her on his first questions. His whole demeanor was terrible towards this woman.

    I hope that someone will put her in touch with a recording label. She should be herd more. Definitely.

    I think the public set her up, setting her hopes up to win, so it was a huge let down when she did not win. The media should leave her alone and someone should show her directly to a recording studio.

    Being an artist is very stressful when you do not accomplish what you intend to accomplish. For Ms. Boyle to sing five times in front of millions of people on television was a lot and she should have won.

    I was not impressed at all with the dancers, or the judges for that matter.

  84. 88 Lonnirose
    June 1, 2009 at 21:30

    First of all, Susan Boyle did not lose – she was runner-up. The ones who didn’t place at all lost. Susan has millions of fans all over the world who feel that she was cheated out of a victory that should have been hers, all due to the slimeball tabloids who took delight in taunting and hurting her. Why? Why would the UK tabloids take such delight in hurting their own national treasure? Here is a perfectly nice, sweet, kind lady who only wanted to sing, and you lot took great delight in hurting her to the point that she is now in a clinic when she should be enjoying her new-found fame and looking forward to a wonderful future. She will still have that future if she so chooses. Thousands have already placed an order for her first CD that is not even yet produced. I predict Susan Boyle will have the last laugh – all the way to the bank!! We here in the states are really unhappy about her treatment in the UK, and want nothing more than to see Susan well and happy.

    And to all you slimey tabloids who have hurt her, I just want to say LEAVE SUSAN ALONE!!!! Find someone else to torture. How do you sleep at night, knowing what you have done to such a fine person? How?

  85. 89 Thomas Murray
    June 1, 2009 at 22:22

    To Whit (whatever that means): Re: Susan Boyle (better).

    In the early ’70s someone (Dick Cavett) asked actress Helen Hayes what she thought of all the nudity in the movies and on stage. She replied,

    “My dear, when you’re on stage, you’re always naked.”

    Having done a little acting myself, even for a light comedy a good performance means laying bare and giving away important pieces of yourself, pieces of psychological flesh that the most proprietous among us prefer to keep under wraps.

    Ms. Boyle has endured what very few of the rest of us are privileged to experience…or suffer. Perhaps the best popular illustration of this is Morton Downey Junior’s character actor in “Tropic Thunder” for which each role he takes so overwhelms him that he actually BELIEVES he is the characters he playing. Far from being a vacant stereotype, this is not unheard of as a side-effect of acting… or the public spotlight.

    So Ms. Boyle should take solace that she’s not alone in this. Even Marlon Brando complained that his “public life” took so much out of him that he felt he had nothing left to give.

    Rest up, Ms. Boyle, and feel free to do absolutely nothing for a while. Then check into doing a little light opera. You’re a natural for it.

    –Sympathies from Louisville, Kentucky, US.

  86. June 1, 2009 at 23:58

    The whole became a VERY bad place those very first grainy images were beamed on a monitor called Television. TV is that Forbidden Fruit in the Garden of Eden all of us want to eat. ‘Hey! Will I appear on TV?’ Everyone wants to be on TV. Everyone wants to be seen and so does Susan Boyle. I am guilty myself of being obsessed with video bytes on the internet. I wish I was Early Man, leaving my life peacefully in a cave and eating wild fruits without today’s obsession. On the BGT note, I think mankind has had enough of brilliant voices and talent. I wish that guy (Julian Smith) with the Saxophone had won. What we all need is to listen to the enchantment of musical instruments only and no more human voice….

  87. June 2, 2009 at 00:00

    The world became a VERY bad place after those grainy images were beamed on a certain monitor called Television. TV is that Forbidden Fruit in the Garden of Eden all of us want to eat. ‘Hey! Will I appear on TV?’ Everyone wants to be on TV. Everyone wants to be seen and so does Susan Boyle. I am guilty myself of being obsessed with video bytes on the internet. I wish I was Early Man, leaving my life peacefully in a cave and eating wild fruits without today’s obsession. On the BGT note, I think mankind has had enough of brilliant voices and talent. I wish that guy (Julian Smith) with the Saxophone had won. What we all need is to listen to the enchantment of musical instruments only and no more human voice….

  88. 92 Dennis Junior
    June 2, 2009 at 02:49

    Yes, the situation (on-going) with Susan Boyle shows the prejudice on many grounds….

    -Dennis Junior

  89. 93 charlescorn
    June 2, 2009 at 10:32

    She came SECOND ! Hardly “the British public turning against her” or an indication of widespread prejudice. She did well. Brits don’t like winners anyway.

    I wish her a speedy recovery and every success!

  90. 94 Jade
    June 2, 2009 at 15:54

    I reckon, if Susan and Julian had sung or played a new song/ tune, they stood a better chance of winning. Diversity did not showed us “beauty” in the conventional sense, as Susan and Julian did. But, they were creative. They showed teamwork, great physical and mental strengths. And, they did not repeat their design. Talent, according to the author of “Tipping Point” is the ‘desire to practise’.

    I had tested my judgments during the semi finals. And, each time, my prediction was the same as the result. So, I think the result was fair, and based on the quality of the acts, not influenced by prejudice. Watching the Final, I was looking forward to another great song from Susan. But, when she sang an “old” song, though VERY well, I thought to myself “oh, oh…”. and, I was right, though MUCH disppointed.

  91. 95 Brian A. Maisy
    June 2, 2009 at 21:29

    Ah so U didn`t see fit to print my last emiss. Never mind I had my day of glory hearing my e mail being read on News Hour yesterday. I can see never the less that I am not alone in my opinion. U should check out with your corresponsal in Chile to know the ongoing saga presented in the TV channels here. I dont trust telephone voting – there is no control.

    Very good luck to Susan Boyle & may she soon recover from her undiserved defeat . With so much deciet on the part of MPs is it any wonder that an average house woman should be conned.

  92. 96 Dennis Junior
    July 13, 2009 at 03:46

    The case of Susan Boyle has revealed a case of prejudice….And, my best wishes to Her on the journey in her career.

    ~Dennis Junior~

  93. August 30, 2009 at 04:12

    I love Susan she is so child like — and always cheerful. I believe this is discrimination and grounds for a lawsuit! She won the minute she opened her mouth and sang. There is no doubt about it. She is beyond words….and I am surprised she didn’t have a contract signed then. All she needs is a mentor who will guide her that’s all. The music business can be tough and it’s not easy breaking in. However, Susan afterall has been on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW and that’s all she needed. She has fans all over the world – my son in his algebra class saw Susan Boyle the teacher brought in a computer and they watched it on You Tube. She loves to perform…music is her life and her love and she is good at it. Does anyone know if she signed something that is preventing her to be signed by a contract? I mean it was like all of this was staged and Susan knew ahead of time that she wasn’t going to win — and yet she performed for us the audience…that circus act that won was just that a circus act who’s going to pay money for that? Not I. I put Susan up there with all the greats Babra; Cher; Celine; Dusty; Ella; I bet Susan can sing jazz as well. What can we do as fans to win her back?

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