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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We'll also be quite transparent and level-headed with you about this.

In "News Never Pays," our fearless CEO, Monika Bauerlein, connects the dots on several concerning media trends that, taken together, expose the fallacy behind the tragic state of journalism right now: That the marketplace will take care of providing the free and independent press citizens in a democracy need, and the Next New Thing to invest millions in will fix the problem. Bottom line: Journalism that serves the people needs the support of the people. That's the Next New Thing.

And it's what MoJo and our community of readers have been doing for 47 years now.

But staying afloat is harder than ever.

In "This Is Not a Crisis. It's The New Normal," we explain, as matter-of-factly as we can, what exactly our finances look like, why this moment is particularly urgent, and how we can best communicate that without screaming OMG PLEASE HELP over and over. We also touch on our history and how our nonprofit model makes Mother Jones different than most of the news out there: Letting us go deep, focus on underreported beats, and bring unique perspectives to the day's news.

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