Examining Prejudice Through Reality TV
Reality TV has brought real human beings to our lives, flaws and all, to prove that you can’t always judge a book by its cover. Perhaps the most famous misjudgment was the case of Susan Boyle, who in 2009 became a singing sensation on Britain’s Got Talent. Boyle walked on stage as an awkward ugly duckling, but her angelic singing voice instantly captivated the audience, leaving them spellbound and sobbing for more.
The 2011 season of America’s Got Talent had a similarly unattractive book cover in Landau Eugene Murphy. When the tall and skinny, dreadlocked Murphy stepped into the audition room, he was a car-detailing nobody. But when he opened his toothy mouth, Murphy was able to channel the greatest singing voices of all time. The unlikely crooner won the show hands down, and is now considered a first-rate, million dollar Las Vegas star, and slated to headline his own show at Caesar’s Palace in 2012.
What does all this say about people whose appearances repel us? Can’t we find something good in everyone? Cowboy philosopher Will Rogers was famous for saying, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” He was able to recognize that beautiful talents are hiding inside the most tattered coverings, and that people who look beautiful are not the only ones who have talent. Even scary or repulsive looking people can have something really wonderful to offer.
None of us likes to think we are prejudiced, but the word prejudice means pre-judging, and we do it every day. Finding the inner beauty in people is harder, but it can be uplifting, motivating, and even life-changing. It wouldn’t be fair to miss out on all life has to offer just because of a ridiculous prejudice against ugly book covers, or ugly-looking people.
Think of wheelchair-bound physicist, Stephen Hawking, for instance. It is hard to imagine a more pathetic looking person, or someone with whom it would be any more difficult to communicate. But Hawking has exceeded the boundaries of what one could expect of even the most extraordinary people. The world would be a much sorrier place had he been ignored and disregarded because of his hideousness.
Letting go of our prejudices, whatever they may be, is a splendid way to enrich our lives. It can lighten the load of suspicion and narrow-mindedness that weigh so many of us down, and make the world a better place.
Take a cue from what is all around you and look for the best in others. Look for opportunities to draw out and nurture the inner talents of others. Allow everyone’s inner beauty to shine bright, and never let your pre-judgments get in the way of their light.