People have been making asses of themselves on TV for years. It may have even been the sole purpose of TV.
With American Idol, X Factor, and all sorts of imitators, wannabe singers regularly made utter fools of themselves. It was enjoyable TV.
So when Susan Boyle strutted on stage for the third season of Britain’s Got Talent, with her frumpy dress, unkempt hair, and general odd appearance, disaster loomed. When she sassed Simon Cowell and the judges failure was in the air. People in the crowd looked at each other with puzzled faces. And then the unemployed 47-year-old said she wanted to become a professional singer. Her?
And then she sang.
Even to this day I can’t watch the video without feeling goosebumps. It’s an incredible moment.
Almost instantaneously the audience erupts in applause. And soon everyone is standing on their feet. Simon Cowell even smiles!
What’s so powerful about this moment is that it subverts the audience’s thinking. Susan Boyle shatters everything you thought you knew the moment she belts out her first note. It’s at that point you realize all the ugly preconceived notions you had about this woman—and be honest with yourself, you had them—and how unfair all of them were.
Piers Morgan tells her, “When you stood there with that cheeky grin and said ‘I want to be like Elaine Paige’ everyone was laughing at you. No one is laughing now. That was stunning. An incredible performance.”
Amanda Holden added, “I’m so thrilled, because I know everybody was against you. I honestly think we were all being very cynical and I think that’s the biggest wake-up call ever.”