Monday, 1 June 2009

Susan Boyle and how long does fame last in the Digital World

Andy Warhol reckoned that everyone would be famous for 15 minutes. How long do you reckon they’ll have in the digital age? 5 minutes? 1 minute??

Thinking about SuBo (you didn’t think she’d be Susan Boyle for long, did you?) it could be that her 5 minutes are over.

Lest we forget, we are talking about a participant in a TV talent show. Not sure who originally put her up to it, but the combination of her age, looks and learning difficulties somehow surprised people in this glossy, celebrity oriented world. The shock was that she COULD sing, as if looks were somehow an integral feature for an angelic singing voice.

So shocking was this that over 1 million people looked it up on YouTube.
Now the tabloid press don’t really get YouTube...they somehow think that 1 million hits make you a millionaire, or means that you’ve got millions of fans. A lot of clips on YouTube get a lot of hits, without leading to fame and fortune for the people involved.

However after weeks of building speculation, the last 7 days have told us the truth. Attempts to master a second song for the semi finals were not that successful, although tabloid inspired frenzy carried her through. For the final she was allowed to sing the same song as in the first round, giving the impression that maybe this is the only song that she can sing.

The big story in town this week was whether she could keep her sanity. Psychologists who dared voice concern on 24 hour news were branded ‘idiots’ by Piers Morgan (quite what his qualification for judging psychologists is I’m not sure) who assured us that she was doing fine.

Her failure to win was met with headlines speculating how much she could earn - £6 million, £8 million, and boasts that she could be made the biggest star in the world.
Not bad for someone who only seems to be able to master one song, and who was allowed to sing the same song again because it was felt that learning another one would be too stressful.

Now away from tabloid speculation and back to make sums of money that large she’s going to have to sell in excess of 10 million albums and tour arenas – how?? Does anyone stop to ask how she is going to be able to do this? Are we now so minor celebrity obsessed that we believe that a few front page headlines make you a multi-millionaire?

With new reports of a stay in the Priory it seems that we have gone from rising star to fallen angel in a few days, without the need for anything as trivial as making records or setting up tours.

Maybe in our post-recession world speculating how much money you could make will replace actually earning it?

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