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Susan Boyle’s Life Lesson

Stop The Presses!

You could call it the battle of the shopworn cliches, but for once they're completely appropriate. Nearly everything written or said in the last week during the media feeding frenzy following Susan Boyle's truly stunning performance on the Britain's Got Talent TV show has made mention of phrases like "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" or "You can't judge a book by its cover."


Regardless of what the future may hold for the self-professed "never been kissed" middle-aged matron from Scotland, whether it be the start of a true career or merely a Warholian 15 minutes of fame, Ms. Boyle has already taught all of us a valuable lesson in terms of how we as people perceive ourselves and others.

Of course, it's a lesson that, as per the never-ending relevance of those aforementioned cliches, always seems to be re-learned every now and then.

Just last August, for example, 7-year-old Yang Peiyi was deprived of singing in person at the opening ceremonies of the summer Olympics in Beijing because Chinese officials judged her to be not good-looking enough. Instead, classically cute 9-year-old Lin Miaoke lip-synched Peiyi's pre-recorded vocal performance and was quickly being hailed as "an instant star"--at least until the truth emerged.  And even then, the music director claimed the deception was "in the national interest," because they wanted to "put forth the perfect voice and the perfect look."

On a more commercial rather than political level, one remembers the controversy over the video for the early '90s C & C Music Company hit song "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)," which found plus-sized Martha Wash's voice lip-synched by the more svelte Zelma Davis.


Coming as it did right on the heels of the infamous Milli Vanilli lip-synch scandal, it resulted in a lawsuit as Wash, who'd been deemed "unmarketable" for the video because of her size, successfully sued to receive proper credit and royalties as the vocalist on the track.

And then there was the video for Blues Traveler's debut hit "Runaround," which provided its own clever commentary on the subject of image and marketablility.

In any event, here's hoping that Susan Boyle's story helps all of us to try and keep from forming opinions about people based solely on their appearances. As she's decidedly proven, if you give someone half a chance, you never know what you may find once you get below the surface.

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