OK. Its pure kitsch – and no doubt my confession here will instantly disqualify me from any claim to “coolness”.
But still, every so often – like today – I can’t help but remind myself of the very first appearance by Susan Boyle on the “Britain’s got Talent” stage.
If you’ve never seen it, its worth watching at least the once. Because in a nutshell is everything both that is both terrible and wonderful about pop culture…and maybe ( a stretch, this?) human nature in general.
A gauche, unemployed, slightly dumpy, nervous woman strides onto the stage in front of Piers Morgan, Amanda Holden and Simon Cowell – the Gods of Lowbrow Taste. They are polite, but…knowing. A nod and a wink to the audience that, yes, here is another hopeless case.
Prepare for a giggle, because in two minutes time, this upstart middle-aged nobody will be heading back to the nowhere she came from, having had her brief interlude of fame. But not, of course, before she has been gently, patronisingly deflated for our delectation and put firmly back in her place.
The audience, too, are ready for it. They stir, amused, as Ms Boyle proclaims her ambition: to be as famous as Elaine Paige. Then its on to the point of the joke. The music swells up…a longish intro to “I dreamed a dream” from “Les Mis”…and you sense them sharpening their claws. The only real question: will the sad lady prove merely deluded – or will she provide some fine comedy in her plunge to self-destruction.
And then she starts to sing. The judges are gob-smacked. For once in his life, Piers Morgan looks deservedly humbled. Ms Holden seems to hover between tears and pure genuine joy that someone with some real talent has burst through.
Its not the world’s greatest performance: but it has power. Real talent.
The audience turn in a moment. They are with her…rising to their feet in genuine admiration.
And the lesson? The obvious, of course, that you shouldn’t judge anyone by their appearance. Less obvious, and what I find most heartening: that people are prepared to over-turn their preconceptions; that they can see when they have misjudged and, even if they never quite admit to being wrong, are prepared to accept a different truth.
That, for me, is what makes this clip exceptional.