Who is responsible for Susan Boyle?
Most reality television is in some respects exploitative. And it is naive for the producers of Britain's Got Talent to pretend that the contestants choose what happens to them because they are chasing a mythical dream.
Susan Boyle is a real person. Her "realness" is what intrigued and drew millions of people to her performance on video sharing sites like Youtube. She is as unexpected a star as they come - not airbrushed and not manufactured. But the show that has made her and now possibly broken her, is as manufactured as you can be in the reality television genre.
The programme is, of course, about unearthing talent and creating an entertaining television show. But it is the back stories of the contestants that make the show what it is. And while Susan Boyle's back story has been manna from heaven for the producers of the show, they have failed to seriously consider the impact of the extreme arc of fame she has experienced. They have benefitted from her story and must have known how she might cope with becoming an instant celebrity, being praised and then quite quickly pilloried.
She is a singer, that's all. A woman with a big, lyrical voice. And while she has wanted to realise her dream of becoming a singer, the price she is paying now is surely too high. And this has become an international phenomenon, not just because it had all the ingredients of a Cinderella story, but because we now live in a Twittering, Facebooking and YouTubing world, where we talk about anything and everything simply because we can.
And when we do, we are as responsible for fuelling the international conversation which, in this case, has made a rather damaging impact on an individual, who just a few weeks ago was unknown outside her own circle.