Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Can we stop patronising Susan Boyle now, please?

Via OneGoldenSquare it seems Susan Boyle is now more searched for than the hottest other thing in social media: Twitter. Alarmingly, I almost certainly don't have to tell you who Susan Boyle is. If you haven't heard, I guess you'll need to add to that search volume :-)

BTW: One reason the search volume may be so high is that people are talking about her peer-to-peer in social networks of all descriptions, but have been unable to take the video of her with them on their journeys since embedding has been disabled. More people would have seen her and not needed to search for her had friends been embedding the video where they meet.

But, to my point: Susan is not a pretty sight.

The reason we were/are so surprised/blown away when she opens her mouth to sing is precisely because she is not a pretty sight. She does not fit our (broadcast media built) stereotype of the way our entertainment must be packaged.

Which would be a wonderful challenging thing if only her talent matched the search volume. Sadly, in reality, it doesn't (but I guess this is only my opinion...)

Strip away the patronising "wow! the frump can sing" and you're left with a pleasant enough lady with sub-cruise ship talent.

Stop feeling sorry for the way she looks. Start being honest about how she sounds.

This is going to be a real test for a straight-talking media celeb like Simon Cowell, but it shouldn't be tough for us as we share in our own communities of purpose (eg like, by me, right here, right now).

Does the Susan Boyle phenomenon point to something grander for entertainment? Does it ask questions about the way celebrity is constructed in a peer-to-peer world?

It certainly reveals the speed with which celebrity can be attained in our hyperconnected present; a world in which we are the distribution.

But it does little to reveal the next wave - the shift from stars manufacturered and delivered (and broadcast) to the world as finished articles by big business.

Our next generation celebrities will be people we share in creating, not just join in distributing.

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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?