Friday, 29 May 2009

The media reaches Boyling point

Obama's election, Bobby's resurrection in the shower and the WMD in Iraq. All pale into insignificance when compared with the column inches dedicated to a middle-aged spinster with unruly hair and depressing dress sense.

Unless you spent the last few weeks in a persistent vegitative state, you're no doubt aware that the UK is in the grip of Britain's Got Talent mania. All this week we've been treated to the semi-finals, as each night eight acts took their turn to showcase a staggering lack of the show's eponymous quality, with a few notable exceptions of course.

But there's only one act that anyone seems to care about, and that's Susan Boyle, AKA The Hairy Angel, SuBO (the woman has more aliases than Sydney Bristow). With the show heading inexorably towards its final edition tonight, the media has responded by filling its front pages with speculative, and often falsified, stories about Susan. It's no wonder the poor woman got off to a shaky start last week, even Jesus' second coming will be under considerably less scrutiny.

First it was Lily Allen 'blasting' Susan (in fact she simply said that the Scottish singer was overrated), then plastic-faced uber-gay Craig Revel-Horwood waded in to say that Susan sucked (presumably forgetting that he's a judge on a different show). Most recently, it was even considered news that Heather Mills was unaware of Susan's existence (presumably the apocryphal Amazonian tribe unaware of James Bond or Michael Jackson have at least watched SuBo's YouTube audition).

Then there are the stories of Susan herself, rather than desperate media tag-nuts who invoke her name for some easy column inches. Susan's moods, Boyle's breakdown, Susan quitting, Susan's pep-talk from Simon, Piers' defense of Susan, Susan's safe-house. It's enough to make your head spin.

In amongst all this coverage were two consecutive stories in my favourite neo-Nazi rag, the Daily Mail, which highlighted the alarming disparity between news and fact. In typical foaming-at-the-mouth style, the Mail churnalists had stated that Susan "stunned a room full of hotel guests with a four-letter rant... Watching the show the hotel's bar, Boyle is accused of sticking two fingers up at a television and shouting 'f*** off', before stomping off to her room." Weirdly, just 24 hours later, Susan's 'furious four-letter outbursts' were reported somewhat differently: "The churchgoer twice slammed her fists down on her chair, swore under her breath then hid away in her room at London's Wembley Plaza Hotel." Now, call me a pedant, but swearing under one's breath can hardly be considered an outburst.

Still, the old saying goes 'There's no such thing as bad publicity'. The show's been in the public eye all week, ratings have never been higher, and Simon Cowell will be able to afford lots more cosmetic orthodontic work. So everyone's happy. Apart from Susan, of course, who just seems to be caught in the middle of this media-managed maelstrom. Let's hope she pulls something out of the bag for tonight's final, starting with a decent outfit.

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