Nov 13, 2009

Sharon Osbourne, Susan Boyle, and Facing Our Shadow

Crossposted from Celestial Reflections.

I have this theory that celebrity news stories pull our eyes away from news of far more important, world changing events, because celebrities are, at bottom, just people whose very human foibles we can we relate to. Despite all their money and fame, the vicissitudes of their relationships and their little human dramas reflect the best and the worst in all of us. I was reminded of this recently, when news broke of a very unfortunate incident involving Sharon Osbourne and a microphone. I have posted the video of Osbourne's interview on Sirius Radio above, but I warn you, gentle reader, that it is not for the faint of heart.

Osbourne, who is a judge on 'America's Got Talent,' slammed the 'Britain's Got Talent' superstar's looks on Sirius XM's 'The Opie & Anthony Show.' She says Boyle was "hit with the f***ing ugly stick" opposed to the surgeon's scalpel?

Here is a partial transcript of her expletive-laced tirade. You can watch the entire thing below.
"I like everybody to do well. Even somebody that looks like a slapped arse. God bless her. It's like, 'You go girl'. She does look like a hairy arsehole. She is a lovely lady. You just want to say 'god bless' and here's a Gillette razor."

In case you've been living in a cave and missed the high drama of Susan Boyle's emergence onto the world stage, here is a link to the video that launched a small town spinster to heady stardom. I still can't listen to her sing that song without bursting into big, wet, sloppy tears. Of course, much of her success at winning over a worldwide audience was the irony of a plain featured -- dare I say it, homely -- middle aged woman, with a voice like a bell. That an issue was to be made of her appearance was inevitable. Cue the junior high school behavior of Sharon Osbourne.

In reading the comments on Osbourne's cringeworthy performance on The Huffington Post, disapproval of her cattiness is nearly unanimous. News of her recent apology, has garned little more sympathy or forgiveness. She disgusted people. She disgusted me. Then a funny thing happened. I showed the video to my husband. He was also disgusted, but he generously caveated that she was probably seduced by the rapt attention of the two DJs who were cackling away and egging her on. He allowed that it was, to a small degree, mitigating. He got me to thinking.

One of the funny things about being in a radio soundbooth is that it is simultaneously very intimate and totally public. It is easy to forget, for moments at a time, that you are talking to more people than those with whom you are conversing; that there is a large invisible audience. Something similar happens on computer bulletin boards and blogs, where we talk to our friends, periodically oblivious to how visible those pixels are to anyone with an internet connection. Thinking of it in that way forced me to consider the dynamics playing in that soundbooth, and there is a very particular dynamic that occurs when a woman is the center of male attention.

So I began to consider the possiblity that Sharon Osbourne's behavior was somewhat understandable. Then something else happened. I heard myself talking... to my husband that is. I heard myself questioning how Osbourne could possibly be so damned lookist, when she owed her career to her role "dragging around that animated corpse of husband." And when I was done ripping into Sharon Osbourne, we turned on the Food Network hoping for "Iron Chef," but instead being tortured by a few minutes of "Dinner Impossible."

"Oh no! Why does that guy wear his hair like Ed Grimley?!" I heard myself say. It would seem that I am not, in fact, above a bit of cattiness.

Celebrities reflect the best and the worst of us. Everything does. Constantly. It cannot be otherwise because the world is our reflection. And it is always easier to point at someone else's shadow, especially when we only know them through our televisions and computers. Facing our own is much, much harder.

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