Gun-totin', Chronic-smokin' Hearse Initiator (ludickid) wrote,
Gun-totin', Chronic-smokin' Hearse Initiator

Britain's Got Standards

Not really AI news, but related: I finally got a chance to catch up with Susan Boyle, the dowdy middle-aged churchwoman who blew the living shit out of the competition on Britain's Got Talent. The woman's got pipes straight from Heaven, no doubt about it, the kind of voice that can make you tear up just by hearing it. But a big part of the pleasure in watching her was seeing how the audience and the judges -- who were obviously laughing at her, rolling their eyes and sneering at her goofy demeanor and frumpy appearance -- instantly galvanized from negative to positive the first few notes of her performance. The judges, including the ever-unflappable Simon Cowell, were absolutely dumbstruck and the audience went from openly sniggering at her to cheering her like she was the second coming in the space of a minute.

I think the press is highly overselling the idea that she represents some kind of sea change where the general public is suddenly going to stop being shallow and obsessed with looks, but it's definitely good to see, every once in a while, someone who's genuinely rewarded for their abilities despite their appearance or circumstance. Boyle gave the performance of a lifetime, cramming an ocean of sadness into an already sad song and then delivering it with unfettered joy -- it's truly one of the great pop moments I've ever witnessed, and knowing that mainstream audiences can still respond to that in massive numbers is a good sign.

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