Desperately seeking Susan

Is it cynical to suggest that newspaper columnists, media companies and TV channels have latched on to the Susan Boyle/ Britain’s Got Talent phenomenon in a bid to gain more hits to their websites? Add a link to a Susan Boyle video and you’ll almost certainly up your ratings.

I too was moved to tears when I watched the unsung Scottish spinster stride out on stage last weekend, but then, I burst into tears more often than I usually admit. Tonight it was because Hugh Fearnley Whittingsall’s River Cottage porker was being taken to slaughter (though I’m not a vegetarian and can never imagine a time I could be); the night before – Shaheen Jafargholi singing Michael Jackson’s “Who’s Loving You” had me sniffling into my sleeve. Talented though he indisputably is, you couldn’t call him raw – he’s been singing that song in a UK musical based on the Jackson 5 – which should nicely answer all those asking how Simon Cowell knew young Shaheen had more potential than his first song showed. The contestants are asked to bring more than one backing track to sing to, in case there’s a problem with one of them.

The real reason we’re all hitting Youtube to be wowed by the Julian Smiths and the Susan Boyles in this feel-bad world, the reason we want to watch all those who doggedly believe in their dreams despite never having the opportunity or the breaks to make it big, is because so many of us would like to be raised out of our mediocre little lives. It may be that we know we’ve got no real talent to speak of, it may be that we’re too scared to get our small dream out in public, it may be that we haven’t discovered a talent in ourselves – but we’re still hopeful. So we don’t stop dreaming – and in those dreams we see ourselves one day putting the cup-clinching goal in the back of the football net or winning the biggest marrow competition at the local produce show.

We fear we might be deluded, (clearly plenty of people are) that our talent is a figment of our imaginations. But outweighing that fear is the hope that by screwing our courage to the sticking place, striding out on to a stage, facing 4000 people and opening our mouths we receive a standing ovation.

Susan Boyle, for all her quirky looks, is a mirror, reflecting back at us what we wish we could find in ourselves.

http://talent.itv.com

www.rivercottage.net

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