Oh no! Susan Boyle actually has been kissed. The overnight Britain's Got Talent/YouTube singing sensation lied! Or was joking. Either way, it doesn't really matter. What does matter is that we all stop the madness.
Really, we were sort of hoping to avoid this whole topic altogether. Because there's already been a raft of soaring, philosophical odes and acidic, who cares?? rebuttals. And gosh, most of the coverage is just so exhausting and insanely thorough and into itself. Take EW.com, which has gone from a mandate of all Twilight, all the time to Boyle Me Up, Scotty! (Because she's Scottish). They've analyzed her slight makeover, about her pre-makeover homeliness, and about how she's made fun of.
And, you know, we don't blame anyone for being interested—we maybe, hypothetically, welled-up a bit when we first saw the clip of her opening that maw of hers and the way-sweeter-than-expected sounds of Les Miserables come pouring out. But we're also resistant to the idea, maybe even repulsed by it, of going in for the real deep dive on this one. Why? Mostly because we should be wise to this song and dance by now, shouldn't we?
Not that Boyle's lying about who she says she is—a spinster and a caretaker who recently lost her mother and has always dreamed of the West End—or that the studio audience's reactions were calibrated, you can't fake that surprise. But everyone else, man. Those two smirking hosts—we'll call them Sunkelman and Deacrest—who smugly said "Weren't expecting that, were you?" The judges, including master of the reality sleight-of-hand Simon Cowell, were probably briefed that something exciting was going to come boundering out from behind those curtains, but were kept just enough in the dark to register genuine, warm, cash-registery shock. But still, despite the obvious machination, or maybe in some perverse devil's bargain kind of way because of it, the hungry cameras descended, and soon after them their wraith-like remorae, the inter-blogs.
And everyone crowed about difference and spinsterdom and challenges and underdoggism and all that stuff that gives us tinny, buttery hope. That stuff that slicks across the surface and disappears just as quickly off the other end. All the while, you know, this woman is being mostly eaten alive, picked apart and poked at and looked over to see what can be extracted. There's gold in that there pill! You know. And not that Boyle herself is some unwitting rube—she's been on shows before, she played a good game of savvy country mouse in relaxed backstage interviews. But still we wonder if you don't quite know what you're getting into before you get into it, even if you dream about it, obsesses over it.
Could Boyle possibly have expected that South Park would make fun of her, and so soon? Or that she'd become the raison d'écrire for many a mainstream pop culture website (ahem) to bang out Way We Live thinkies (Choire Sicha's favorite kind of pieces)? If she did, then the world is more cynical and calculating than we'd previously imagined. Even a little middle-aged Scottish gnome lady wants to be a queen of the blogosphere. And if she didn't, then it's still pretty cynical and calculating, but it's also aggressive and dismayingly opportunistic, for taking a simple woman's hopes and blowing them up to unwieldy proportions.
Don't worry, this isn't some maudlin plea to leave the old biddy alone. Because she has happily signed that contract. What we find a bit uncomfortable, a pebble in our shoe, is how quickly and giddily and with wild abandon everyone threw themselves into this damn vortex. Shouldn't we be past this by now, shouldn't we be all too aware that nothing about these heavily orchestrated Events is ever quite as innocent as it seems? Susan got kissed! The producers knew! Susan got a leather coat! And a movie offer, and a bodyguard, and a duet with Elaine Page, and all manner of things, so don't worry, she's just fine. And that's good. Because she seems like a nice lady.
But when all of this comes crashing down or at least sadly disappears, as it inevitably will, we'd better not fall back on old habits and blame Britain's Got Talent, or the bad, shadowy, anonymous other internet that we, somehow!, have nothing to do with. No, we should be adult enough after this decade or so of the nü-fame game to willingly shoulder the blame for this one. All of us. For the overexposing, for the de-humbling, for the ruining, the backlashing, the annoying ruminating (pot, kettle, I know). Because we messily ran with it, because we let it get out of hand. Because we always do this! And we don't ever seem to learn. This will always happen.
You could say we've got a talent for it.