Susan Boyle is Living the Dream

by Kevin on April 15, 2009

Today we’re going to jump off the personal finance track.

Money is important in this life we live. “Money makes the world go ’round.” Money buys things that improve your life, your comfort, or the comfort you provide others.

But money is not everything. Not even close.

You have to have some other reason to live other than just hording up as much money and assets as humanly possible. You can’t take it with you. Sitting in your castle, tucked away from the rest of humanity, with piles of money around you does you no good at the very end.

Don’t Forget to Live

I’ve written this before: don’t forget to live. Use your assets and debt-free life to improve the lives of those around you. Enjoy life. Don’t be a hermit.

Along those lines I present the story of Susan Boyle to you. Susan is 47 years old and works as a charity worker in England. I don’t know if this means she volunteers or what because I believe she says on the show she is unemployed. She somehow got onto the show “Britain’s Got Talent” — the UK version of American Idol.

Susan walks on stage and obviously doesn’t meet the regular criteria of candidates you see on the show. She’s not 20-something. She’s not drop dead gorgeous.

The judges do their thing and judge the book by its cover.

And then she sang. (YouTube has blocked embedding of this video into other sites, so you will have to click through to view it.)

She sang “I Dreamed a Dream” from the hit show Les Miserables.

[Fantine is left alone, unemployed and destitute]

There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted

But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
And they turn your dream to shame

He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came

And still I dream he’ll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.

Her voice is gorgeous. She may not have looked the part, but she stunned the judges and wowed the crowd. The crowd started cheering in the middle of her song before she was even done.

Naturally, the judges voted her in.

So don’t forget to live. Don’t ignore your dreams. Chase after those dreams hard. You may never reach them, but you’ll at least have the satisfaction that you tried.

You can’t throw caution completely to the wind — take a look at your situation. If you’re married with four kids and a huge mortgage it is unlikely you can quit your job and decide to go hike across the country. But you can make changes in your life to prepare you — and your family — for the day that you decide to make the leap.

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Jerry Abbott April 16, 2009 at 9:12 am

That’s a very pretty video. I’ve watched it carefully several times, and I think there’s a bit more stage-management to it than you’ve realized.

First, the camera-panning catches of significant facial expressions is simply too good, too apropos, to be serendipity. The judges remarks are too well thought-out to be spontaneous; most of them indicate that a bit of time has passed for reflection and word-smithing. The cameraman on the flying boom was ready to make his zoom-in pass when Boyle hit her high note–again, indicating that a degree of advance preparation had occurred. Likewise, the fellows off the stage left had been prepped with several smart remarks and had a camera backstage ready to speak them to.

Oh, there’s more. But that’s enough, I think, to convince most people that Piers Morgan and Amanda Holden were falsely pretending to be surprised after Boyle finished singing, and that Simon Cowell was telling the plain truth when he said that he knew Boyle’s singing would be extraordinary when she walked out on stage. Cowell probably intended that his correct statement would be DISBELIEVED, but it was, I think, true nonetheless.

What I think happened is this. Susan Boyle made an earlier appearance at some sort of talent contest and was scouted by someone from Britain’s Got Talent. She was given an audition off-camera and then invited to sing on the TV show. The audience was salted with people who had been to acting school and knew how to make facial expressions of the sort people have when making snide or catty remarks, or alternatively when to look “surprised” or “ecstatic.” I think that the real stage in the video is the ENTIRE AUDITORIUM. Susan Boyle might have been the diamond in the ring, but she wasn’t the whole piece of JEWelry there.

Still, all-in-all, the production was a worthwhile piece of art, and it achieves its lesser purpose of making viewers feel good. It also carries out a deeper purpose of providing a moral object lesson in the vein of “Never Judge A Book By Its Cover.” And, if I might presume, there is yet a third and yet deeper purpose that has to do with a very hidden tiger flexing its propaganda claws, just to stay in form.

The video itself was harmless. But consider what this level of illusion-making talent could do if it chose to be mischievous or, dare I say it, even criminal. It could, for example, predetermine the outcome of political elections by making one candidate look heroic or visionary, while, subtly and unjustly, leaving a faintly tainted odor on the other candidate. Beware! Learn ALL the lessons that this video has to teach, not the pretty ones only.

Kevin April 17, 2009 at 10:01 am

Wow. I love a good cynic, but that one takes the cake for today.

Well done.

GrannyAnnie April 18, 2009 at 8:07 am

Another friend of mine forwarded this video to me earlier. I gotta tell you, I was impressed. I don’t know anything about staging, and I’m not quite that cynical anyway, but in any case the lady can SING! It gives the rest of us “not 20 something, not drop dead gorgeous” people someone to think about when going after our own dreams. And you know what? Even if the producers of this show did do creative editing, they did a fine job, and the result is positive feelings, not negative. I’m okay with that.

Jerry Abbott April 18, 2009 at 4:06 pm

Sure, by all means, go ahead and feel good. I’m not against feeling good, so long as the way you get there doesn’t cause harm somewhere else.

Nor did I ever say that Susan Boyle isn’t wonderful. She has perhaps one of the world’s supreme singing talents, which unfortunately went unnoticed for too many years. It would dismay anyone to think of all the albums she might have recorded, if she had been discovered sooner.

Yet, there is something more that begs to be noticed. It is something important, but identifying it requires a mind that can think outside the box.

The stage-management displayed in the “released” version of Susan Boyle’s TV performance showed a great skill in orchestrating acting talent in order to induce in people exactly those feelings that the producers intended. Despite the signs of that orchestration which are obvious to a thinking (or “cynical,” to use your term) person, most people won’t see them, or if they see them won’t think upon them, and so they will not ask themselves a question that they should. Namely…

What if this same level of emotion manipulating talent were used unscrupulously, in a way that did end up causing harm?

What if it were used to hijack a country’s democratic process by making people spend their votes recklessly, in effect voting for a series of governments, each more oppressive than the last, until finally they found themselves in such legalized strictures that they might as well consider themselves to be slaves?

One day, the music stops, and the party going public finds itself surrounded by the new Cheka or KGB and herded into whatever the new Tianamen square or to the new relocation camps, whatever they may be called.

When every last average-Joe can see a problem, it’s usually to late to avoid the consequences. So I like to sound the alarm early. If it is early. It might not be.

BTW, did you notice when Amanda Hopkins, at 6:52 in the video, said “Elaine blew it” on camera? Remember: this remark, too, was part of the stage management. Someone was sending a message of warning or comeuppance to a woman named Elaine. Was this woman Elaine Paige? What motivated this remark? Presumably, Elaine, whoever she is, would know even if the rest of us don’t.

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