Susan Boyle’s Makeover for Harper’s Bazaar
Susan Boyle, the little singer who could, gave her first major magazine interview to Harper’s Bazaar with accompanying makeover.
“I did the audition for her [mother] because she always wanted me to make something of my life, but I had to wait a bit because her death prevented me from singing for a while. I couldn’t put my heart into it. So I was singing about wanting things to be like they were before she went. You know, it was a double-edged sword because it was about what I wanted to do, but it was also about wanting to turn back to when she was with me.” Boyle pauses. “Powerful stuff,” she adds, as if to make light of it.
“As a kid, I was in my own wee world when I listened to records in my bedroom,” she says. “I didn’t mix with other kids much. I was frightened of people because of their reactions toward me.” Boyle hurries over what she is saying. “It’s complicated,” she says quietly. Then she brightens up. “But the best way I could express myself was in the bedroom, singing along and imagining I was entertaining people.”
“The YouTube thing was like a demolition ball. It was just overwhelming — to find TV stations camped outside your door and the phone ringing 24 hours a day.” She pauses. She seems determined not to complain. “It was good. But overwhelming. It was too big for anyone to handle.”
Now, why were we reluctant to post this? Well, let’s all look at the pictures first.
She looks good in almost every shot. We couldn’t agree on the Donna Karan blouse (Lorenzo thought it looked silly on her and Tom thought it was kind of flattering), but for the most part, they didn’t go overboard and seem to have treated her with respect. So, no complaints here.
No, the reason we were unsure if we wanted to discuss her is because she makes us deeply uncomfortable. The whole “phenomenon,” when it erupted months back, annoyed us; first, because we felt that the clip from Britain’s Got Talent that introduced her to the world was ridiculously manipulative and designed to get exactly the response it got, and second, because the response it got disturbed us. The one question we kept asking everyone who tearfully mentioned the clip was “Why on earth would anyone assume that she couldn’t sing because she’s less than attractive?” Seriously, what was with all the surprised reactions to that? Have we all become so shallow and so celebrity obsessed that actual talent from someone who doesn’t look like she’s been starved and/or airbrushed is shocking to us?
And to take this into even more controversial territory, why are people treating her talent as some sort of once-in-a-generation event? She has a lovely (albeit clearly untrained) voice and she deserves a shot at developing and showcasing her innate talent. BUT. She is, at best, a middle-of-the-road talent. There are literally thousands upon thousands of women toiling at the edges of the entertainment industry who have better voices than her. She’s good, but she’s not THAT good.
We don’t know, it just feels like a bit of overcompensation to us. Like everyone wants to prove that they’re NOT shallow by treating this frumpy woman with a heartstring-tugging backstory as the Maria Callas of her generation when she’s clearly not.
And what makes this all even more uncomfortable to us is that she has demonstrated that she’s not particularly prepared for this kind of fame and attention. She’s already had at least one breakdown and we worry that she’s only got more in her future.
Let’s state this clearly before we get ripped to shreds in the comments section: we think she’s talented and we think she deserves a chance to have her dreams realized. It’s just that we see the writing on the wall here. Fame has two stages: the one where they build you up and the one where they tear you down. That latter stage is almost always more brutal when the public realizes that the celebrity was built up to a point far beyond the celebrity’s actual talent level. In short, we worry for her. We honestly do. And we think the whole phenomenon speaks badly about both the public and the entertainment industry.
[Video/Photos: Hugh Stewart/harpersbazaar.com/tadashicollection.com/bergdorfgoodman.com]