Susan Boyle’s 20 Media Euphemisms

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A Lexis-Nexis search turns up 952 articles concerning Britain’s Got Talent Superstar, Susan Boyle. Why? She’s got a smoking singing voice, but she’s not-hot, and that’s touched a cultural nerve. We are shallow. We don’t want to be shallow. Or at least, we don’t want people to know how very shallow we are. But we can’t talk about how shallow we are without mentioning how not-hot Susan Boyle is and how we wrote her off because of her not-hottitude. Right?

So. How many colorful euphemisms can the media come up with? Lots—see 20 below.

1. “The plain Jane superstar,” in a Daily News article about an offer from a porn company to put Boyle in an adult film. (It plans to fly her to L.A. on Virgin Airlines.)

2. “Like Shrek come to life,” Rosie O’Donnell to People magazine.

3. “Frizzy-haired” from Mother Jones’s own Party Ben.

4. “Plain, dowdy, unemployed,” in New York Magazine’s round up.

5. The Age of Melbourne let an imaginary Jane Austen do the dissing and refers to her as “ill-favoured.”

 

6. “Stocky, beetle-browed,” is the word from The LA Times.

7. Susan Reimer of the Baltimore Sun writes, Boyle gives “new meaning to the description ‘frumpy.'” What was the old defintion?

8. Unleashed: A blog for animals and the people who love them” of the same Baltimore Sun writes that Boyle “makes us rethink ‘the spinster cat lady.'” Cat ladies of the world stand taller today.

9. “Hairy angel” is the phrase from the U.K.’s Daily Mail, which also mentioned her “unfortunate gait.”

10. Mark Jefferies of the Mirror writes, Susan Boyle has the voice of an angel, but a “hair-do from hell.” Do we say hair-do anymore?

11. “Drab” is the word from The Daily Star, but check out the link for the nipple-tassled Fabia, who should also be an Internet star.

12. “Matronly” is how the Chicago Tribune puts it, and quotes BGT judge Amanda Holden as saying “she just looks like anybody who could live on your street.”

13. The Washington Post went for understated with “unassuming.”

14. The New York Post gave us “ugly duckling” and “golden-throated spinster,” which has to be the most Brothers Grimm take.

15. Her fans see her as “a triumph over looks-ism and age-ism,” says the New York Times, because she’s too old and too not-good looking.

16. She’s an “underdog” because she’s not hot, says the USA Today, which reminds us that “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” It’s like School House Rock for grown-ups. 

17. Huffington Post wins for the strangest description with “unusual-looking, weirdly-mannered outcast.” Apparently, Mark Blankenship hasn’t been to a mall recently–she’s not that unusal looking.

18. “Avatar of yearning” is Tina Brown’s take in The Daily Beast. The comment section is open to anyone who can explain that one to me.

19. “Badger in a dress” is the proud work of Wales on Sunday.

20. “A cross between Julia Child and Edith Bunker,” says The Boston Herald, which also uses the word “schlumpy.” That’s a cross between lumpy and what, exactly?

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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