The entertainment world has been abuzz about Susan Boyle, the Scottish woman who wowed the audience and judges of "Britain's Got Talent." Here's the clip, if you're one of the handful of people who haven't seen it on TV or YouTube.
The gist of the coverage is that Susan was greeted initially with cynicism bordering on derision because she is a plain, frumpy woman who tells a plain, frumpy woman's story: took care of her mother, lives with her cats, never been kissed. Then she knocked 'em dead with her angelic voice, which proves: Aren't we terrible for just judging someone so superficially instead of waiting to discover the hidden beauty?
But think about it. For there to be such general agreement of Susan's plainness, enough people have to have the same criteria for plainness so that we have gone from a subjective to nearly an objective standard of beauty. For there to be such general agreement of the beauty of Susan's singing, enough people likewise have to have the same criteria for us to near an objective standard for singing voices. Why are we superficial twits for succumbing to that standard on her looks but finally wise to succumbing to the standard for her voice?
To think about this more, check out Mortimer Adler on the difference between admirable beauty and enjoyable beauty. And if you really want to get into it, read the chapter on beauty in his "Six Great Ideas."