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Update: The results, and much more, are up on YouTube.
Normally, I wouldn't go into the ins and outs of Simon Cowell's current series on British TV. That's not what you click on to GlobalPost for ... But given the YouTube-generated planet-wide interest in "Britain's Got Talent" contestant Susan Boyle, and in the interest of explaining to you the very odd sociology of British media, I feel I must descend into the murky swamp of low culture. So here goes:
It is all over for Ms. Boyle. Her 15 minutes are up. The way I know this is today's tabloid headlines. Susan Boyle is cracking up, according to The Sun, Rupert Murdoch's top-selling tabloid, which is rarely wrong about show biz dish. "RAMBOYLE" was the headline on a story in the newspaper about the police being called to a hotel where she was staying before Saturday's final to calm her down. And because I believe in getting the story from two sources — for factual accuracy and to avoid lawsuits — the Daily Mirror has a similar tale under the banner "Boyling Point."
Now the sociology: There is nothing in the world to compare to the monstering of an innocent human being by the British tabloid — around half the adult population of this country reads the tabs every day and once you're on the cover it becomes an alternate reality to the one you thought you inhabited. No one ever comes back to equilibrium from the experience, but anyone who walks onto a popular TV show has to expect it sooner or later.
Boyle's fate was pre-ordained the moment her beautiful voice emanated from her odd package. Within 48 hours word got out — how? — that Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore had been reduced to tears by it (could they be friends of Simon Cowell's, in the pay of his production company? Surely not) ... Anyway, post-Ashton YouTube hits numbered in the millions and were then amplified in the tabs by a factor of ten. Two hundred and eighty-three million hits is one number I've seen. That is unlikely, but who's counting. The iron law of British tabloids is this: If you can sell extra copies finding a new hero or heroine you can sell even more when you demolish them. That is what is going on here. Big time backlash.
But the secret of British tabloid journalism is to bury a kernel of fact at the core of the fantasy. In this case, the fact is that there are other very good contestants in Britain's Got Talent. If I had money — and I'm a journalist, not a member of parliament, so I don't — I would wager on schoolboy rugby player Shaun Smith, a white boy with a fine understanding of how to sing a soul ballad. He's got sex appeal for the teenage girls who tend to phone in more votes than others on these contests, and he isn't threatening to blokes; he seems like a guy you wouldn't mind having a beer with. I would list him as the favorite. Dark horse is Stavros Flatley and son, a couple of very overweight Greek Cypriot immigrants who cavort shirtless around the stage like the Riverdance choreographer Michael Flatley. The Cypriot community is a loyal one and they will work the phones religiously.
The point is that Susan Boyle peaked too soon and by the time the tabloids are finished with her she may not even finish third.
For the record, the best act is a dance troupe from the London 'burbs called Diversity. Trust me, they are too good to win a phone-in popularity vote. But check them out and tell me whether I'm wrong.