Susan Might Make You Cry

There’s a machine in place that eats pretty young women, gnaws on them until their substance-abuse problems, bad decisions, eating disorders and tragedies are all that keeps them in the public consciousness.

Sometimes they’re actresses. Sometimes they’re dancers. Sometimes they’re singers.

We prize youth and beauty in our performers—not ability. This is a mistake.

And it’s why my eye juice welled up after watching this clip of Susan Boyle, the plain 47-year-old from West Lothian who slayed the audience of “Britain’s Got Talent” this week.

I’m so acclimated to the overchewed wads of flesh bumping and grinding in the disco-lit mouth of the mainstream. The metal teeth of the industrial entertainment complex frame every promo photo, the edges of our television, the screens of movies. Usually, I don’t waste much breath on the subject. Somehow, I’ve come to agree that this is just how things are.

But Boyle’s performance is to us, the sub-eaters of entertainment, a memo: Some of the best performers have years of experience and practice tucked into their belts.

Above all, her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream”—her sincerity and lack of cynicism—is a reminder that it doesn’t have to be this way.