Sunday, April 26, 2009

What's next for Susan Boyle?

Tom Bergeron is host of ABC's hit "Dancing With the Stars" as well as "America's Funniest Home Videos" and the author of "I'm Hosting As Fast As I Can: Zen and the Art of Staying Sane in Hollywood." Now, I don't know about you but Bergeron isn't the first guy I'd think of when I consider who might write an Op-Ed piece for the New York Times.

But, there was Bergeron's byline in yesterday's Op-Ed page of the Times, under a piece called "Does Susan Boyle Know What's Next?" And, it's an incredibly prescient look at what's happened to Boyle, and our culture's fascination with stories like hers.

Boyle, in case you are unaware, is the overnight sensation who appeared on "Britain's Got Talent." She is a 48-year old, single, charity worker with a cat. And, I'll confess, she looks like a single 48-year old woman with a cat who does charity work--her appearance is plain, she is painfully shy and looks little like a star singer. Boyle then opened her mouth and the rest, as they say, is pop culture history--16 million hits on the YouTube version I watched and the sudden adoration of a public that can't get enough.

Bergeron, to his credit, advises Boyle to "run away." As he points out, how often have we seen this happen--the overnight sensation who just as quickly flames out and/or can't handle the fame? More importantly, is our interest sincere...or will we turn on Boyle as her newfound fame continues to grow?

I love Bergeron's final few lines in his op-ed piece: "Boyle walked onto that stage and faced down a sea of smug. We need that kind of courage nowadays, and not just on reality shows. We need the courage to believe that stirring voices can be found in unlikely places."

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