So farewell, then, Susan Boyle. You're not dead, but your fall from public popularity looks certain to be just as swift as your rise. You have learning difficulties, which are completely misrepresented by the mainstream media as 'strops' and 'rages', who should damn well know better, and probably do, but don't care. The narrative arc has been put in place: you came from nowhere, were made into something by Simon Cowell and the Britain's Got Talent sausage-machine; and then you were dropped like a stone, by it and by the Great British Public.
It's tempting to wonder if that narrative arc was always the one that was set out for you, when your celebrity handlers realised that your genuine behavioural difficulties - not strops or tantrums or hissy fits, but genuine problems - would mean you wouldn't quite be the consistent money-printing machine they wanted you to be. They could probably see into the future, and realise that you might struggle with the hectic tour schedules, promotional appearances and album recordings required to be an asset. So that was that. Showbiz is a brutal old game, and you're just the latest victim to be kicked out of the fire exit.
The tabloids, who once were your friends, have rounded on you with a viciousness and downright unpleasantness that it's hard to understand:
Now they revel in the fact that you have been admitted to the Priory - the celebrity meltdown clinic. It's open season on you. You may have had difficulty getting to grips with the sudden rise and pressures of fame, but they couldn't care less. They want to get you. Now you haven't won, they want to get you even more. Now those chances for an exclusive deal with you have either been sewn up elsewhere or receded because of your defeat, it's time to stick the boot in.
They print the least flattering photos of you they can find. Whereas once they only selected the pictures of you smiling, now they want to make you look like a freak.
They have decided it's time to dump you. It's a cliche to say that the British media build people up just to knock them down, but then again some things are cliches because they're true.
Ironic that the Mail should mention 'circling vultures' on its front page, alongside its own story about you. But the vultures are no longer circling - they have descended. Only one tabloid has decided that a positive story about the winners of the competition is more interesting than your fall from the pedestal that they themselves put you on:
Everyone else has decided to attack you. People have written some predictable guff about you, but the most accurate report of the situation has come not from the mainstream media but by this commenter on the Guardian's story. I think it's worth repeating here in full:
This is awful but I can't say I'm surprised.
My brother has moderate learning difficulties, caused (as in SB's case) by deprivation of oxygen at birth. To him, all human relationships are about trust - which is easily broken. He sees the world in extreme terms: either someone loves him or hates him.
The slightest hint that someone is criticising him, even if it is friendly and well-meant, and he becomes angry. He loses it. It is so hard to explain the vast contradictions in him - he appears 'normal', but not quite. Normal enough to be judged for his actions; different enough to be teased, bullied, laughed at.
I suspect that SB's graciousness in defeat was quite genuine; she clearly liked the young boys who won, was amongst friends. But backstage would have been a different matter; any stray remark (or stray remark she thought she heard) would very likely have tipped her over the edge.
Those of us who cope daily with developmentally-impaired people have to have a vast reservoir of patience. It's not always possible, admittedly, because one thing we find difficult to admit to is how angry and violent our loved ones can be. My brother is, to most who know him, a gentle giant of a man; those who know him understand him to be capable of very sudden mood swings and quite extreme violence.
I wish her well. But especially, I wish her carers well - her best friend, her church community, and whoever else helps create a buffer between her and the outside world.
The tabloid press ought to be ashamed. Really, truly ashamed. They felt it to be a good story that they expose the 'real' Susan, as if she were some kind of fraud. She isn't. She is both the innocent girl who never grew up and the foul-mouthed aggressive woman. Unlike most of the rest of us, she can clearly switch from one to the other in seconds, and be utterly unable to control it.
I hope you get the support you deserve, Susan. I think obscurity could be much more rewarding than fame.
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