Thursday, April 23, 2009


In The Washington Post's On Faith section, Sally Quinn says that she and Ben Bradlee cried when they watched Susan Boyle on TV -- and Quinn literally saw God:

...Of course like most people, I cried when I watched the video, as did my son, as did my husband, tears pouring down his cheeks. But we knew before we watched it that Susan Boyle was learning disabled. She had suffered oxygen deprivation at birth. We knew that she lived alone with her cat, had never held a job and had never been kissed. The reaction to the tape has been universal. Applauding the underdog, confounding the cynics, and validating ordinary, not particularly attractive women who had never been celebrated or even affirmed in their lives....

When she began to sing I not only heard but saw the divine, the sacred, the holy. There it was in the most unlikely figure, radiating out of her as if she were being transported to another realm.... It made me realize that we are all born with that same quality of the divine whether we are beautiful, ugly, brilliant, learning disabled, outgoing, introverted, talented or just average. It is there and we have an obligation to look for it in ourselves and most importantly look for it in others....

What rankles me about this is that it clearly never occurred to Quinn that the non-fabulous and non-sleek had any value until a non-fabulous, non-sleek person succeeded at her game, which is grabbing TV ratings and online page views and print column inches. The Susan Boyles of the world who lack the capacity to compete for eyeballs have, until now, been essentially invisible to Quinn, by her own admission -- she's never seen "the divine, the sacred, the holy" in them. I'm certain they still are.

I should acknowledge that there's a personal issue for Quinn (and her husband) in this -- as she writes, she tells us that

In the next room my son, Quinn Bradlee, 26, is also pondering what to say for his Web site,, a site for young adults with learning disabilities. I never thought it would come to this -- competing with my son.

But note that even the reference to her son gets framed in terms of the competition for eyeballs. He's in the game, too (she name-checks his Web site; he also has a newly published book, which has garnered a lot of media attention, I'm surely solely on its merits).

That's Sally Quinn's God -- the God of Media Fabulousness. That's the God who speaks to Quinn in Susan Boyle's voice.


UPDATE: There's a fine "Shorter Sally Quinn" here, plus some not-quite-fresh but still bizarre gossip.

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