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Bill Maher goes all Simon Cowell on the Susan Boyle phenomenon

by Danny Gallagher, posted May 6th 2009 2:03PM
Susan Boyle on Bill Maher recently brought up the tour-de-frump that is the Susan Boyle phenomenon on his HBO Real Time show, along with an interesting observation on her runaway success.

Now I'm not a regular watcher of these flashy Gong Show remakes like American Idol, America's Got Talent or America's Got Nothing Better To Do Than Watch This Crap, so maybe my opinion doesn't count in the court of reality show watchers. It seems to me that every few years or so, a phenomenon will bust out of one of these shows for reasons other than their ability to do whatever it is they do on these shows. These shows feed on humiliation like great white schadenfreude sharks.

Enter Mrs. Boyle, the "lovely Scottish troll with the voice of an angel," as Maher put it. But Maher feels her success is due to the unconscious guilt everyone secretly feels from watching these bottom-feeding talent shows.

He claims that just by viewing the video, the people who crave humiliation entertainment think they can cleanse their karma of all the schadenfreude boners they have ever gotten from watching someone's dreams crash and burn like North Korea's last missile launch.

Maher has a twisted (for some) sense of humor about the whole situation, and I kind of agree with him, but there is another element to the humiliation equation.

The climatic point of that video is watching Simon Cowell's wide face turn from begrudging disappointment when he sees the frumpy Mrs. Boyle walk on stage to shock and awe when her golden throat turns the theater into a standing ovation. So now the viewer not only thinks they have cleared their id of any bad mojo by spreading the word of Boyle, but they also think they have destroyed an evildoer.

I'm no mindreader, but Maher didn't say that because he probably sees the bitter Brit as a dream-crushing superhero who's wicked tongue is faster than a boy band's career, more powerful than a record producer's attorneys, able to leap over a musical wannabe's ridiculously high dreams in a single bound.

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Maher is just a bitter little POS. He hasn't been funny for years. The sad part is that some people think this low-double-digit IQ jack@$$ is a political sage.

May 07 2009 at 10:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David D

Can anyone tell me if "Britain's Got Talent" is broadcast live? Because if it isn't, all those mocking reaction shots before she sang, and the miraculous transformation shots of the judges, were intercut after the fact. And the producers had to know what she could do beforehand, and the full orchestra that had to have rehearsed with her at least once (or was that a recording?). I say this with no complaint about her talent, but I do believe that a great deal of the storybook was written before and after the performance.

May 07 2009 at 8:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Oh what fun it is to make fun of a poor, vulnerable, lonely woman that finally got a break in life.
Let's get laughs at her expense to keep those ratings up even if it means ruining her life. ♥

May 07 2009 at 12:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Funny clip, sadly his writers probably aren't that far off (they just condensed her downfall into one year).

And yeah, I'm that cynical about people. I find Maher amusing, enjoyed his movie (very funny) and his show is always good for a few laughs.

May 06 2009 at 11:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

bruce makes compelling arguments. The reaction to his opinion is rather interesting.

May 06 2009 at 10:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to GL's comment

That's because saying that Boyle's popularity is due to anything other than it being a wonderful heartwarming story of love and triumph will cause one to be torn a new asshole, as you're calling people out due to their TRUE motivations and feelings (which are as grotesque as Boyle herself).

I find it hilarious that merely calling Boyle fat and ugly makes people all self-righteous. But these are the same people who scoffed, pointed, laughed, and hissed at Boyle the moment she slithered up on the stage in her tattered dress and unkempt hair. Nobody is emailing their friends the Boyle video to show how cruel people were to her. They're emailing it for the reasons I stated earlier. And for them to concede I'm right is for them to concede that they're jackfucks. They'll never do that in a million years. Though they're so unaware of their true thoughts they probably don't even realize what's going through their minds as they watch junk like this.

May 06 2009 at 11:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brent McKee

I gave up on Bill Maher as an arbiter of entertainment quality when he said of Terry Fator, the winner of the second season of "America's Got Talent" that "If your winner is a ventriloquist, then 'America Hasn't Got Talent.'" This was before Fator signed his $100 million five year contract with The Mirgae in Las Vegas.

May 06 2009 at 7:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Brent McKee's comment

Yeah because having a gig in Vegas equals talent or getting an 8 figure deal equals talent.

If you look a little bit closer you'll find that all the people having long-running shows in Vegas equal pretty much what people like on American Idol and that the gross of the money in Vegas comes from the audience who like these kinds of acts.

The only thing good going on in Vegas is Cirque Du Soleil but even that got cheap when the added the fifth simultaneous show.

May 08 2009 at 10:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Explain why it "made you feel good"? There are plenty of other (non fat, non ugly) people on these singing-idol shows who can sing just as well, if not better, than Boyle and nobody claims those people make them feel good, nor do those people get the videos of their singing on the show emailed to 30 billion people.

It makes you feel good because your instant reaction to her - based solely on her looks - was to belittle her and give her no chance. When she surprised you with her singing (as if looks have anything to do with singing ability), explain why that makes you feel good? Care to elaborate on why you (and the audience and judges) were surprised to begin with?

It's because we're all evil, shallow little creatures who value looks above everything else. Deep down inside I think you feel good because most of us are fat and ugly like Boyle, so for her to overcome her own looks makes you feel good about yourself.

And there's nothing wrong with being cynical. This world would be a hell of a lot better off if people were more cynical.

May 06 2009 at 6:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Bill, I hope you enjoyed ridiculing that woman in such a disgusting fashion.
Heaven knows, since she had the audacity to audition for a talent contest, she must deserve all the mud being thrown at her.

May 06 2009 at 6:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Brenda's comment

Bill Maher didn't make fun of her. It was the Idol show's audience, its "judges" and its fans who made fun of her. The second Boyle walked on stage, they (intentionally) showed camera shots of the audience, simon, and the other judges laughing and booing her. Likewise, when she was talking before singing (about how she's an unemployed virgin with no friends, etc.) everyone was laughing and giggling like the braying jackasses that they are. After all, this is why people watch the show. To see Simon bash people he deems to be not worthy. But once the fat, ugly, unemployed virgin showed she could sing, all the jackasses watching were amazed. How could a fat, ugly, unemployed virgin sing? Wow. I gotta show all my friends.

And you blame Bill Maher for pointing out how pathetic this is? HE is the jackass?

May 06 2009 at 10:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Bill Maher is SOOOO GORGEOUS that he can afford to refer to Susan Boyle as a troll? When was the last time he spent some time in front of a looking glass? He looks like an old Smurf who has had one too many puffs on the peacepipe.

Anyone who thinks the BGT video is a fake should watch a few more videos of other contestants. They all have a similar format, and have been edited after the auditions.

People have responded to a magnificent voice and a gutsy performance from a talented individual whose career has just begun. I think people are sincerely happy for her success.

May 06 2009 at 6:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Susan Boyle is the least cynical among us. Bill Maher is the most cynical. She's great and he sucks.

May 06 2009 at 6:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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