Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Beauty or talent?

The Brinkster Clan was away in the countryside for much of the Easter weekend feeding milk to orphaned lambs, hunting crabs in rock pools on the beach and other non-suburban stuff but apparently back in the land of TV reception something quite interesting has been happening. As The Noble Savage has already posted "Britain's Got Talent" produced an immense surprise in the most un-Beyonce shape of Susan Boyle, aged 47 and in every way an almost stereotypical spinster complete with Pebbles the cat as companion.

Picture from the Daily Mail websiteShe blew away the judges and the audience with a performance entirely at odds with her appearance which, if you missed it like I did, can be seen here. To quote The Noble Savage's final paragraph
"She was phenomenal, no question. The arrogance of those who judged her made Susan’s success all the sweeter. But why did they judge her talent based on how she looked and her marital status? Are we so shallow as a society that those two things are primary criteria for ascertaining whether or not someone will have talent or the ability to be successful? Ridiculous"

Are we so shallow? Apparently we are.

Over at The Times the Alpha Mummy blog has a post entitled "It's time to be more American with our children's teeth" and uses the latest figures on UK tooth extractions for children as a springboard to launch into why only a neat selection of pearly whites is the only acceptable form of mouth furniture. It quotes a piece by Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker back in 2005 which says:
"And those struggling to get ahead in the job market quickly find that the unsightliness of bad teeth, and the self-consciousness that results, can become a major barrier. If your teeth are bad, you’re not going to get a job as a receptionist, say, or a cashier. "

The Times seems, somewhat ironically, to ignore the New Yorker article being about those who can't afford health insurance in the US and how much better European systems of healthcare are but leaving that aside it seems to have gone beyond encouraging basic dental health and seems to be holding up cosmetic perfection as the norm. After go-karting on Friday we went to Chessington (World of Adventures, not the fine garden centre next door) and I happened to comment to Mrs Brinkster that it did seem like a convention for the dentally challenged as I had never seen so many poorly treated sets of nashers in one place at one time with displays of teeth akin to neglected tombstones in a graveyard before the Health & Safety people arrived to flatten them for being 'unsafe'. It obviously doesn't tell me anything about their intelligence or personality but would suggest that they've not followed the recommended dental practices, and I know a number of people who haven't been to the dentist for years but don't have any problems with their teeth because they follow the basics. My take on it is that having been written off as a lost cause by my orthodontist in my teenage years as much as I, in some way, would love to have Hollywood teeth with which to wow my fellow commuters I'm just happy to have healthy teeth and not get hung up about it...

Many years ago I had the joy of working with a lady by the name of Pat Erridge who, it could be argued, would make Susan Boyle look like Keira Knightley but was one of only a few people to appear on Mastermind three times, and I believe was a finalist in the Brain of Mensa competition back in 1999, not to mention numerous other quiz and gameshow appearances including her most entertaining one with her euphonium playing sidekick Gary on a Michael Barrymore quiz show that I can't quite remember the name of. Hidden behind her somewhat strange and unconventional mannerisms and demeanour she had a highly developed and agile mind and if she could have sung as well as she could think would have put the angels to shame.

Down with the cult of perfection and let's here it for real talent!

Noble Savage - Spinster's Got Talent

Susan Boyle on Britain's Got Talent

Alpha Mummy

New Yorker - The Moral-Hazard Myth

Pat Erridge

1 comment:

Worcester Park said...

Who's to blame for pre-judging Susan Boyle?

Can you really blame Great British public for assuming that strange looks = no talent when shows such as this have for years been drip-feeding us with a range of freaks, village-idiots and borderline lunatics for us to point and laught at?

Well done on her for getting through an confounding all of our expectations.