Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Cliché of Surprisingly-Talented Uglies

I don't watch TV aside from the occasional series I buy on disc, but every now and then my embargo on broadcast entertainment is broken by a link passed around YouTube. The latest has been another installment in the reality entertainment cliché of a fat, ugly or shy person possessing clarion-like vocal abilities.

I don't want to dispute the talent displayed by Susan Boyle, Tony Roberts or lately Jonathan Antoine. They are undeniably good singers. My grievance is the narrative that propels their rise to popular consciousness. They appear to audience and judge ridicule on a talent show and then proceed to outsing the heavenly host to gasps and cheers.

What's sold to audiences and repeated by gulls is that prejudice robs the world of talented performers. Aren't we awful for being so shallow? Shame on us.

Firstly, bollocks. You may be awful and shallow, but there are plenty of fat, ugly and old performers who are critically respected. If your definition of "success" is universal pop cultural adoration and an anus cleaned by wadded currency, then you are playing into the hands of the industries who define it as such to maintain their monopoly and prey on ignorant fucks like you.

Secondly, great vocalists are almost as dime-a-dozen as great guitarists. Any guitar shop you can find is likely bedevilled every weekend by lightning-fast fretwanking of no artistic merit, but guitar solos are out of fashion outside of the world of party games. Do you think Susan Boyle sounds like Elaine Paige? Did you actually like and listen to Elaine Paige before Susan Boyle appeared and sounded just like her? No? Then of what fucking use is a performer who sounds just like Elaine Paige and why are you buying her albums? Charity?

Thirdly, you're a stupid philistine fuck, because you were surprised that someone ugly or fat sounds amazing. Why, barring severe deformities of the mouth and neck, should appearance have any effect on their vocal abilities. Have you ever watched an actual opera? It's all great big fat people in cartoonishly heavy makeup, at a distance. This is not a triumph over disability, it's par for the course in music outside of the pop crap you're used to and continue to support by watching talent shows.

Stop congratulating yourself for overcoming stupid prejudices.


Anonymous said...

US comedian Doug Stanhope has a good take on this phenomenon. Do a youtube search for 'ugly woman who could sing'.

Ladyfingers said...

I'm a big fan of Doug Stanhope! Thanks for that tip, I hadn't heard him do that one before.