Yesterday the New York Times rounded up sociologists, anthropologists, and other -gist types to explain the science behind our love affair with singing sensation Susan Boyle. Why did we fall so hard? Because we didn't expect it.
The more I read, the more annoyed I became. It lists stereotypes that Susan challenged: unattractive women are not engaging; age stereotypes are harder to change than racial; people who try to be accepted and fail breed contempt; preconceived notions are disregarded until contradictions are too striking to ignore; and discrepancies of stereotypes create instant arousal. They release dopamine and make us happy. It made me happy the first time! Why so angry now? To find out, read more.
Because it's become so apparent that these stereotypes were used in the making of Susan Boyle. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if a similar group of social scientists were consulted to ensure her debut was dramatic and its YouTube clip viral.
From Simon Cowell's sneers of doubt — as if he hadn't heard her sing in a prescreening — to the perfectly cut shots of audience-member eye rolls, the orchestration was as pitch perfect as her voice. I would even wager that Boyle's wag of her hips, her claim that she'd never been kissed (which she later retracted), and the walk off stage before the judges could respond were all part of her performance.
New York Post columnist Maureen Callahan called it a week ago when she wrote this:
The clip itself, suspiciously ready-made for online consumption: A seven-minute movie, slick and pithy in its perfect execution of the underdog narrative. . . . There is the classic David vs. Goliath subplot, the primal satisfaction of seeing the bully (Cowell) slain by such a seemingly inferior force. And there is the profound desire for this entire thing to be authentic, which in and of itself suggests that it probably isn't.
Since the show aired, Susan has said yes to Oprah, been on morning and late-night shows, and now her life will be turned into a movie. She had a makeover. And, she'll probably get a record deal signed by dear, old (older than her!) Simon himself.