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Susan Boyle's 1995 audition: Insulting, degrading...and fairly standard reality TV

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Britain’s Got Talent may have been Susan Boyle’s big break, but it wasn’t her first foray into the reality-contest genre. Back in 1995, she auditioned for the Star Search-ish My Kind of People. Host Michael Barrymore wasn’t as impressed as Simon et al:

Is this classless and sort of degrading? Yeah, absolutely. But I’m not sure that what Barrymore is doing is so different from how most shows treat a lot of their contestants. If this clip of Susan Boyle being mocked is sad and off-putting — and it is — what does that say about the the weeks of audition episodes on American Idol, where dozens of contestants are trotted out for the sole purpose of mockery? Do only talented singers deserve not to be degraded?

If we could stop congratulating ourselves for a second on how great it is that we’re giving a middle-aged, not conventionally attractive woman the time of day, we might see, as others have pointed out, what’s really amazing about her story: a little human decency going a long way on reality contest shows.

More Susan Boyle:
Music Mix: Susan Boyle: America, what’s your problem?
Susan Boyle starting on the makeover: Like you wouldn’t…?
Simon Cowell: ‘Distractions’ could doom Susan Boyle
Ken Tucker: Susan Boyle interview: ‘I’m happy the way I am: short and plump’
Susan Boyle: 14 Candid Photos
Susan Boyle on ‘Larry King Live’: Did you watch?
Susan Boyle’s ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ audition gives Simon his second spontaneous ‘O’ of the week