At first we could hope it was all a misunderstanding and Susan Boyle didn’t really scream and swear at the police. Or at her biggest "Britain’s Got Talent" rival, 12-year-old Shaheen Jafargholi, as she watched him on the telly in her hotel bar.
Or, worst of all, threaten to leave the show — only days before Saturday’s finale, the most important day of her life.
Now it’s all been confirmed — in the British tabloids that started the whole mess and in live interviews on American TV. For her mental health, Susan has been moved away from the London hotel swarming with tourists and tabloid reporters to some kind of safe house. And Susan herself (or the "BGT" publicity department, in her name) has released a statement that: “I want nothing more than to stay and sing in the "Britain’s Got Talent" final.”
Phew, that was a close one.
Ah, for the innocence of last Sunday’s semi-final, when there were flaws in her performance but the fans knew the pressure she was under and chose to revel in the notes that she hit beautifully.
Susan was the clear winner of the night in the call-in voting, yet the best part was judge Piers Morgan’s tribute after her song: “When the world was going through a pretty tough time and was looking for a bit of hope and inspiration, along came Susan Boyle to provide it and, on behalf of the whole world, ‘cause they’re all watching you tonight, thank you, Susan.”
Even Simon came through for her: “I just want to apologize because of the way we treated you before you sang the first time. You’ve made me and everyone else look very stupid, and I’m very happy for you.”
The British papers started calling her SuBo, raising her to the level of JLo and LiLo and Brangelina. And then, as the American press did with LiLo’s drug, grand theft auto and girlfriend’s-family-hires-five-security-guards-to-keep-her-out-of-a-party problems, the press looked for Susan’s melting point and found it.
The first inkling that something was wrong was the Tuesday morning Sun
Report that Susan was practicing her singing till 2 a.m. in her London hotel room, and guests were complaining that the “cacophony” was keeping them up.
One guest griped, “She just sings all day and all night.”
If only she’d left it at singing.
Under the headline “SuBo Goes Loco,” the Sun reported that Susan was enjoying Shaheen’s rousing semi-final song at the hotel bar … until Piers told the young contender, "I think that, pound for pound, that was the best singing performance we’ve seen so far."
As the ever vigilant Sun described it, “Hairy Angel Susan … stood and screamed ‘f— off’ before flicking a ‘V’ at the screen and storming out.” What woman wouldn’t feel slighted, coming only a day after Piersy blogged how Susan had rushed up to him after her own semi-final “and kissed me full on the lips for quite some time.”
And what’s a "V"? Isn’t that a sign of peace?
The next day Susan “went berserk,” complete with expletives, tears and
an intervention by police over an upsetting comment the Sun said was made
by a couple of “strangers [who] set out to ‘wind her up.’”
In the Associated Press version, a spokesperson for "Britain’s Got Talent" said, “Two journalists were harassing her.” From, oh, the Sun, perhaps?
Piers tried to tone down the shock of it all on the "CBS Early Show": “I’m actually feeling more supportive today than I was before because I feel really sorry for Susan. From what I hear, she’s been in tears the last two days. She even threatened to leave the show yesterday at one stage because of the pressure on her.”
Psychologist David Wilson quit a job on the British "Big Brother" reality
show after discovering that the show’s real purpose was “to attract viewers by manufacturing controversy and conflict.” The BBC website quoted him as saying, “The harrowing week that Piers was describing hasn’t been created by the press. The harrowing week has been created by the programme."
When the "Early Show’s" Maggie Rodriguez asked Piers, “Who is looking out for her interests?” he mentioned production people from the show but only one by name, Simon Cowell. “No one knows better than him how to influence and control the media and try and keep things calm.”
And does no one know better than Simon how to control the media and heat things up?
In a mid-April BuddyTV.com article, “The Dark Side of the Susan Boyle
Phenomenon,” Oscar Dahl wrote that he heard Fox News’ Bill Hemmer discuss an interview he did with Susan. "When he asked her if she had auditioned on her own or if the producers had discovered her, Boyle let slip that it was "Britain’s Got Talent" who found her and not the other way around. There were no follow-up questions offered, but one gets the feeling that Boyle wasn’t supposed to let this fact be known."
Bill’s question and Susan’s answer can be heard 4:49 into a phone interview on "America’s Newsroom." When Bill follows up on how she felt about receiving the invitation, she answers, “I was very nervous and apprehensive … ” and then says what, to my American ear, could be, “… because it was without an audition.”
Oscar took Susan’s alleged slip to mean that "BGT" producers were actively seeking a new Paul Potts — somebody shy and ordinary with extraordinary talent — and then manufactured the shock over her talent. He concluded, “ … the implications aren’t pretty.”
It’s easy to spin tales of conspiracy. There are always people who have a lot to gain if things turn out a certain way. For instance, a talent show, set to lose its worldwide audience because the frontrunner was a shoo-in, could revive interest and then some if the once unbeatable contestant were suddenly on the verge of tragically melting down live on TV, of all times, during her final song.
Would master showman and media controller Simon — or former tabloid editor Piers, who "quickly gained notoriety for his invasive, thrusting style and lack of concern for celebrities’ right to privacy,” according to Wikipedia — do this to the star they created? Even if they wanted to, can mere humans manipulate true life events so easily?
After all, it was Susan’s confidant Piers who passionately blogged, “She’s had to read stories and columns, and listen to radio and TV phone-ins, calling her arrogant, insincere, spoiled, fake, mad and so on … Let the increasingly unpleasant bitching and carping stop, right now. Please. She doesn’t deserve it.”