A guest post by Bruce Hamill:
The story of Susan Boyle captured the imagination of the world. At one level it was simply the surprise of beauty. Where did that voice come from? And yet there is so much more than that here. And the “so much more” has to do with the expression on the judges’ faces and the sniggers of the audience including those universal judges on their couches throughout the world. It was here that the analogy to resurrection is greatest. For here the whole world was agreed on the form of the beautiful and it didn’t include Susan Boyle. Only the act of casting her out, in which both audience and judges were complicit, explains the looks on the judges’ faces and the astonishing popularity of her YouTube clip. And yet in that moment of discovery a strange thing happened. We realized for a moment our own judgment. We were the judges judged by her truth. And then another thing happened. We began to tell stories which justified the world we are a part of. We could not face the judgment that her unveiling made upon our world, so we turned the attention on her heroism, in such a way that we could in fact adore her as an appropriate idol and icon of our time. Like Pilate we avert our gaze from the truth that judges us. Where Pilate asks the dialectical question, we renarrated the familiar ‘rags to riches’ tale in which there is no judgment or surprise and Susan’s triumph is the logical conclusion of our meritocracy. She becomes the hero so we can avoid the spotlight being turned on us the audience and the world of American Idol-atry that we participate in.
I wonder what will happen to Susan now? How much longer will she avoid baptism by ‘makeover’? How much longer will we be able to stand her ‘look’? How much longer will she be able to avoid seeing herself through the eyes of the crowd?