General Question

Mr_M's avatar

Does anyone else find it repulsive that a "plain" woman daring to have a beautiful voice is making headlines?

Asked by Mr_M (7621points) April 17th, 2009

I’m talking about the British woman who’s all over YouTube right now. Why is it so alarming? I find it repulsive that it’s media worthy for the reasons it is. A person can only have talent if they look good, otherwise it’s a rare find? Most people DON’T look like Jessica Simpson. Have they even SEEN legendary Italian opera stars??? How do you feel that this is considered “newsworthy”? Should it be? What does it say about society that it IS?

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61 Answers

loser's avatar

I think it’s GREAT!!! More power to her!!! Guys like Mick Jagger can be famous and have been for a long time!!!

Mr_M's avatar

I’m not being clear. It IS great (and I forgot about Jagger). But what is newsworthy about it?? (Through no fault of hers). Why should people be so AMAZED??? I think it’s insulting to HER that it was made newsworthy.

GAMBIT's avatar

Surely you jest. I thing it is great that for once someone isn’t judged on their appearance and is winning on their talent.

knitfroggy's avatar

Wonder if she’d have gotten on the program if she only had the voice…the “plain” is what worked for her-so to me that’s awesome. What it must have took for her to get on that stage and sing-like an angel, I might add.

cookieman's avatar

I also don’t like the subtext that these “news reports” are presenting.

On the one hand, I’m glad she is getting the recognition she deserves.
On the other hand, I’m not sure it’s completely because of her singing ability.
The subtext seems to be: “and can you BELIEVE she’s so average looking!”

But, in the end…she does deserve the attention and good for her. As the saying goes, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.”

Mr_M's avatar

@knitfroggy, that’s kinda my point. Her appearance should not have entered into it at all. And to say “Extra! Extra! Plain woman has a beautiful voice!!” like she’s some kind of circus sideshow freak (“See the plain lady with the beautiful voice”) is a SAD commentary, I think.

elijah's avatar

I think she’s a good singer, like a lot of other people out there. She got lucky enough to get “discovered”. She has a crappy life, but so do lots of other people. I’m glad she made it but it’s really not newsworthy. I’m happy for her either way but I feel like American Idol is using her to say “Look at us! We are heroes for saving this poor sad woman!”

Mr_M's avatar

“poor, sad, HOMELY woman”. You’re absolutely correct.

Not to mention, wait until she gets the makeover and breast implants. That WILL happen.

fireside's avatar

It’s still a step up from the attention that William Hung got off the same type of show.

Mr_M's avatar

Actually, America kinda did it FIRST when “America’s Got Talent” featured that very obese guy with the beautiful voice?

syz's avatar

A related article.

bythebay's avatar

I agree that some of the media outlets have been less than subtle in characterizing her as an old dowdy spinster; but she did invite that characterization. Most of the shows, of this ilk, do present (and capitalize on) background bios of their contestants; think foster kids, single mothers, ghetto breakouts, farm boys. It should simply be a wonderful thing that an unknown has burst onto the scene with an amazing talent. Unfortunately, that type of media doesn’t garner viewers.

Mr_M's avatar

@bythebay, point well taken. The worse the person’s background, the more the show eats it up.

elijah's avatar

@Mr_M do you mean the man that sang opera? He had a beautiful voice. If that’s the man you mean, I think this woman is a step further. The man was overweight, but that’s acceptable for an opera singer. A lot of Americans are overweight so he wasn’t such a “freak show”. This woman represents something most of us fear- being all alone, not really living, sheltered from the world. That’s why everyone is so interested in her.
Who knows how much they adjusted the facts, who knows if this woman really is what they are making her. She may not be a sweet kind woman.
Even if she is milking it I say good for her. Good for William Hung too. They capitalized on something available to them.

Mr_M's avatar

Yeah, him. If I’m not mistaken, didn’t the judges do a fake “I’m shocked” routine when he first sang? And you are right, there was no reason to.

Hung became a millionaire from his exposure. I ENVY him.

Mr_M's avatar

In fact, Hung probably made more money then most of the people in the top 5 of each season. You NEVER hear about them.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Would you rather she got the boot because she doesn’t look like Kelly Clarkson? She got recognized for her talent not her looks.

seekingwolf's avatar

I listened to her and I honestly think she would have gotten there even with her voice. It’s so beautiful and she sings so well!

I think it really became so news-worthy because people were shocked that she could be so good at singing and yet so plain looking, but I still think she would get attention for her voice even if she looked like Kelly Clarkson.

Mr_M's avatar

@seekingwolf, that’s precisely what I’m talking about. Why should people be shocked that a plain looking woman sings well? What does it say about those people??

seekingwolf's avatar


It’s because she goes against the general image of a good singer. When you think of a good female singer, she’s often gorgeous and all made up, usually dressed up in nice clothes.

She doesn’t resemble that image and thus surprised everyone.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

Yes, she certainly did throw everyone for a loop. She was on GMA yesterday morning. The first time I saw her, it was sent to me in an email. It brought tears to my eyes & gave me goose bumps. She’s going to be a success story. They talked to her on GMA about having a make-over & she said she’s ready.

I love Diane Sawyer, but she was totally tactless when she asked her if it was true that she’d never been kissed. I thought that was terribly insensitive to say on national TV. I can’t believe she did that. You could tell it embarassed her.

cookieman's avatar

@jbfletcherfan: That is so rude.

She should have replied, “No – but I was just fucked.” and walked off the show.

seekingwolf's avatar


Yeah I totally agree. Diana Sawyer was being a bitch and I didn’t like it at all.
I’m so happy for the woman though! I wish her all the best and much success!

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@cprevite LOLLLLLL, yeah, that’d have shut her up. I’m going to try to find a link in the GMA site & write her about that. She needs to know that that WAS NOT cool.

@seekingwolf I agree.

VS's avatar

I think one of the most beautiful singing voices in the world belongs to a rather UNbeautiful woman. Have you ever seen a picture of Loreena McKennett?? But then, have you ever heard her sing? There is absolutely nothing spectacular about her looks, but her voice is simply amazing. Not all singing angels look like Charlotte Church.
I think it is sad commentary on what society puts a premium on.

elijah's avatar

They give all the A.I. contestants makeovers. It’s part of becoming a star. Kelly Clarkson was a bit shlumpy, and she even now that she’s a star she admits how much airbrushing went into her album cover.

aprilsimnel's avatar

This is MTV’s fault. Before MTV, being good-looking was a bonus, not the entire point. On the one hand, old stars like Frank Sinatra or Rudy Vallee, who were arguably among the first singing idols and both handsome in their time, had to know how to sing!

On the other hand, Lemmy from Motörhead is a great example as well. He’s hideous. And had Motörhead started after MTV, he’d’ve gotten nowhere, but he was lucky to have started in 1975 when no one cared.

As for this woman, I’m not surprised that she can sing. Why should I be? But then, I grew up in a church where there was a lot of singing and it didn’t matter how you looked, you had to be capable. That was the only criterion.

KalWest's avatar

I agree that Diane Sawyer intrview was a little uncomfortable – but in all fairness – the woman – Susan Boyle – did reveal that fact herself – right before she walked out on stage and belted out that song.
aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!! that would have MADE MY DAY lol

GAMBIT's avatar

Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn and Aretha Franklin have never been known for their beauty but each have been rewarded over and over for their perfect pitch.

Too bad you had to swing a negative to this Mr. M I was enjoying this Cinderella Story.

elijah's avatar

I bet she gets a reality show on VH1 to find her first true love

Mr_M's avatar

@GAMBIT , you can disagree with me. That’s why I raised the question.

@elijah, not just AI stars. I think ALL stars. And what a great idea for a reality show. She can be a singing bachelorette.

and I also agree…if Sawyer said it, the woman’s publicist must have put it out there.

BTW Does anyone remember Ruth Buzzi from Laugh In? Her character was homely but she herself wasn’t.

qualitycontrol's avatar

All I know is, I don’t give a dam what she looks like, I’ll marry her cuz she’s gonna be RICH

GAMBIT's avatar

@Mr_M – If I thought she was being harmed in anyway it would be different but she seems to be able to take care of herself. I hope she makes a million and stardom doesn’t change her in any way.

I would rather see the positive in things and not dwell on the negative.

Mr_M's avatar

@GAMBIT , now that you mention it, I wonder if it was a planned “schtick”?

knitfroggy's avatar

Think of all the undiscovered talent in this world-people we will never see because “they” think we don’t want to look at them. It’s sad…

Mr_M's avatar

Personally, I think ANYONE can be made to look good.

GAMBIT's avatar

@Mr_M – As you know a lot of what we see is a planned “schtick”. Maybe the judges all ready heard her sing. I wouldn’t be surprised. I just have to admit I want this lady to succeed because she comes across as a regular person not a Barbie Doll that needs help from machines to hit the correct notes.

casheroo's avatar

I don’t watch American Idol, so I haven’t heard her sing. I honestly don’t see what the big deal is.

knitfroggy's avatar

@casheroo She sang on Britain’s Got Talent, it’s been all over the news for days, you must not be a newsie…or else you watch news that is actually important! lol

3or4monsters's avatar

I have heard others say they aren’t so much shocked by her looks, but by her age (and that’s a whole ‘nother rant). The pack-pedal for that opinion is, “How can someone be in their 40’s, be this talented, and be unknown?

casheroo's avatar

@knitfroggy I’ve heard of her, and have seen a picture…but I just don’t care enough to read about it. Like I said, I don’t see what the big deal is…why is it so surprising that she can sing?! Some people are just born with natural talent…

Mr_M's avatar

@3or4monsters, That’s the way the thinking should be. I agree. I haven’t heard the age thing. I hear, over and over and over, about the PLAIN woman who actually had talent. Like that’s not supposed to be.

knitfroggy's avatar

@casheroo That’s what I meant by news that’s actually important…

susanc's avatar

All this sympathy is a little foolish. She presented herself as an old, dumpy person. Do you think she’s stupid? Do you she had no life till she met the panel?
Then you underestimate this intelligent woman.

She’s in her church choir, she lives in a beautiful part of the world, she mentioned her “community” being happy for her, and she said she lived alone “at present”.

Frank Sinatra was considered goofy looking for years. We had to get used to him.

Diane Sawyer was hardly out of line to follow up on whatever
her interviewee brought up. You guys are being played if you think Susan was Diane’s victim.

With regard to my earlier comment on another thread, it interests me that the audience did stand up and scream within the first ten seconds. I don’t watch the Idol shows. Is this normal? Could it have been staged?

If so, it was great theatre. And, speaking of theatrical smarts, what a fabulous choice of song….
@casheroo, it’s not just “natural talent”; she’s got serious training.

casheroo's avatar

@susanc So, if I had training, I could sing like her. I always thought that talent like that had to be there originally, and the training brings it out. No matter how many guitar lessons I’ve had, I have trouble playing. I’m just not musically inclined. So, I tend to believe training just makes someone great at something they were always going to be good at.

Jeruba's avatar

@Mr_M, that point was made by a responder to NPR’s story yesterday. She said, approximately, “How dare you act as if it’s news for a woman to have a beautiful voice if she isn’t beautiful? Plenty of ordinary-looking people have talent. Do you think you have to look like a cover model in order to sing well?” I totally agreed with her, and with you. Thank you for saying so.

Actually her story makes me think of the loathly damsel, a medieval theme that recurs in folktale and art, very familiar in Papagena in The Magic Flute. Can’t go into it now, but you can look it up.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@KalWest What you say may be true. But I very much doubt that she wanted it broadcast before millions of viewers. The look on her face said it all. She was caught off guard.

noelasun's avatar

I thought the reason why we “took” to her (though I think headlines for days straight is ridiculous), was because this was a wake up call to a lot of us.

This instance made us own up to the fact that we do, in fact, judge a person by their looks. And makes us realize how wrong it is.

susanc's avatar

@noelasun: That’s the exact story they agreed to ask us to think about. This was theatre, and it’s ongoing theatre, involving Diane Sawyer and the rest of the crew. Not cynical. Show business is a community and everyone in it knows how it unrolls.

@casheroo: We agree! I wrote: “It’s not JUST natural talent.” No denying the pipes
and the passion – she’s got a gift. And she took the initiative to get coaching.

And good for you, to pursue the guitar lessons even though it doesn’t come easy. I hope that gives you a lot of pleasure and keeps you sharp.

Mr_M's avatar

I think talent is possible in EVERY job and those with talent do it better.

Jeruba's avatar

The opera singer was Paul Potts. Like Susan Boyle, she was on Britain’s Got Talent, not an American show.

Jeruba's avatar

See this post for commentary that to me sums it up very well.

That’s assuming that the whole thing wasn’t (as I think some suggested above) actually staged as a heart-gripping Cinderella story like that of Paul Potts, with deliberately dowdy appearance and folksy manner and thunderstruck judges, just because it makes great theatre and worked so well the first time.

fireside's avatar

The end of the CBS Early Show bit definitely seemed like planned shtick to me.

StephK's avatar

Actually, when I first read the headline I, like you, felt dismay at the media’s reaction. I believe that her appearance should have never entered into the equation. Instead of Talent + “Homely” = Surprise, it should’ve been something more along the lines of Talent = Talent.

After this initial reaction, I began to see things in a different light… maybe this is a tiny step towards sensibility in today’s media. In all likelihood it’s probably not, but I prefer to look at the optimistic side of things. Maybe something grand will happen and this will remove the blinders of fashion, fads, and model-inspired beauty many people put on themselves.

PS_ I acknowledge that many, many talented people are beautiful according to industry standards, too. This is not meant to discount them. I just believe that maybe too much emphasis is placed on looks.

Crusader's avatar

Without an image the endocrine system responsible
for hormones, estrogen or testoserone, is not engaged.
Naturally, due to the considerable quantity and
readiness of testosterone to be released, attractive
female images are more compelling to men, (and marketable,)
than attractive male images are to women, also, attractive
male images are regarded with a negetive reactive from men
where attractive female images are regarded as nuetral
or positive from women. With a just voice we are not
as influenced by such things-that is to say,
the biological imperative to procreate is not activated,
or in a considerably reduced capacity.

kevbo's avatar

Most of what makes headlines disgusts me.

Once upon a time, though, successful screen actors were forced out of work because motion pictures got sound and they had plain or ugly speaking or singing voices.

I’m inclined to agree with @susanc- weapons of mass distraction

fireside's avatar

Nobody thought this poor comely woman could sing like this or like this

And that was 50 years ago.

Jeruba's avatar

@fireside, excellent point. TV has changed our values, not only in entertainment and the making of heroes but even in electing leaders.

I do think you mean “homely”—the opposite of “comely.”

—pleasing in appearance; attractive; fair: a comely face.

—lacking in physical attractiveness; not beautiful; unattractive: a homely child.

fireside's avatar

@Jeruba – wow, I never knew that. I thought comely and homely were synonymous. Thanks!

bea2345's avatar

@Jeruba How homely is homely? does anybody remember the great Australian singer, Joan Sutherland?

Jeruba's avatar

I certainly, do, @bea2345. I remember her photo in Life magazine in the mad scene from Lucia, which was the first thing that made me aware of opera back in the sixties. I have many of her recordings in the great operatic parts. She was and is no beauty. And as others have pointed out above, the operatic tradition is full of stars whose voices trumped looks a hundredfold. In the popular arena, which is where Susan Boyle’s voice belongs, this is less likely to be the case.

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