Category Archives: Popular Culture

Congratulations Susan Boyle, But Watch Out for the Celebrity Complex

Watch the Susan Boyle video. I, along with so many others, thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Susan Boyle video as did many of my fellow Americans. What a powerful performance! She had the perfect song (a smooth melody), coming from the perfect circumstances (unemployed and nearly 48 years of age), with lyrics that connect with a majority of Americans and people around the world – “I Dream a Dream.” Who can’t relate to these lyrics?

There was a time when men were kind,
And 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 when 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…

Despite the initial spirit of skepticism, Susan Boyle offered to all of us a gift. She embodied so many of our hopes and dreams in such simplicity and grace. Thank you Susan and enjoy these moments. They have been a long time in coming. But I would also offer this. Don’t allow our culture to impose on you the celebrity complex. Your simplicity, your commonness, is your appeal.

And that’s what I would offer to Susan and to all those who reach out for celebrity status, for pedestal living. Our culture is fascinated by the celebrity. We read about them in People magazine. We listen to their interviews as famous talk show hosts bombard them with questions, some of which are very personal. We try to get their endorsement so as to draw people to our event or product. We get them judge our contests when they have no idea about what they’re judging. We buy their pictures, seek their autographs, and collect their memorabilia. We wait in hotel lobbies until the wee hours of the morning, hoping to get a glimpse. We buy their books and patronage their movies or events, somehow hoping that we can live out some of our life fantasy through them. Celebrity-worship is a multibillion-dollar industry. There are some dead celebrities who will make more in one year while in the grave than you or I will make in a lifetime. Entire newspapers, magazines, and television shows are devoted to photos and film clips of celebrities caught with their cloth’s off, with other people’s spouses, at rehab, at the plastic surgeons. We study the minutiae of their lives. We worship them but yet strangely enough, we like to find the dirt on them too – a strange paradox. We want them to be good, but not too good.

Let’s not do this to Susan Boyle. Allow her to remain beautiful in who she is, as she is. Let’s not heave on to her shoulders the celebrity complex burden. Cheer for her. Listen to her sing. But allow her to be Susan, for therein lies the beauty of what we’ve all experienced. Let’s not insist that she “top” the “I Dream a Dream” performance. Rather, let’s enjoy the moment and allow Susan Boyle to make her journey, unimpeded by our expectations.

You can be sure that life was filled with many “anonymous” places and times in Susan’s life. Like Susan, we’re all submerged into the unseen years of anonymity, tucked away from the public eye. Obscure places. But it’s in the undocumented life chapters, where a true servant is shaped. Don’t rush through those uncelebrated times, unphotographed times. We may even question: Why are the people in my life wasting my potential? Why can’t I be a Susan Boyle? Our purpose can only be clearly seen when the clapping of the crowds aren’t there to distract. And when your moment comes, to whatever degree you have notoriety, watch out for the celebrity complex. Just be you.


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Filed under Celebrity, Music, Popular Culture, Susan Boyle