Friday, February 19, 2010

Sorry for the Duration

All lists are subjective, but the names Babe Ruth, Seabiscuit, Michael Jordan and Mohammed Ali would belong on any fair minded person's list of greatest American atheletes. Also Tiger Woods.

Still very early in his career, he's done legendary things, like winning a tournament with an injury that later required surgery.

So it's worth taking a moment to observe a modern prodigy's attempts to rehabilitate his public image, and what that means in context of modern culture.

There was a time in this great land, when the railroad didn't run... hmmm, David? I think that's a Gordon Lightfoot lyric. Oh yeah! Knew it sounded familiar for some reason. There was a time in this great land when Tiger's career would be over forever, period. Maybe go play golf in Europe, but that's about it. These times, societal shunning is less rigorously practiced. There are pros & cons to that. Yeah, it is a very effective method. Shoplifting is nearly unheard of in Japan for example. But shunning has always sloshed over on innocent family members, every time I've seen it practiced. Eh, it's a mixed bag; still practiced in rural America but no longer much of a defining cultural current really.

Therefore, Tiger has a chance to convince fans who identify with him in a neurotic way, that nope, he never was person they thought he was, but he's trying to become that person. I'm not being cynical; that's the man's mission, if he wants the endorsements back.

A few things come to my mind... what is this trend about apologizing to people you haven't wronged? And of course Tiger is sorry. Everybody who gets caught, regrets having been caught. We 'sophisticated' Westerners roll eyes about cultures where miscreants are scourged in public, yet we expect the same thing of our little tin media gods? It seems our culture has progressed from a culture of shunning, to one where elaborate, largely meaningless rituals are required. Why do we do that? Why do we care about the private life of a person we'll never meet? Who buys products based on Tiger Wood's endorsement anyways?

There is one thing though, for which I personally can never forgive Tiger Woods. Read the story on his speech today, and was wiping tears from my eyes. One of those watching was former Tiger Beat member Simone Ste. Claire (or something like that) a recently retired porn star. She watched the broadcast with her attorney, and I only hope lots of Kleenex was available. Though not named specifically in Tiger's Mea Culpa today, nor has she been named by anybody except herself, Ms. Ste. Claire was clearly heartbroken. She said something like (I can't even quote me accurately) "I feel so violated, I trusted him. I want him to look me in the eyes and apologize for the unwanted attention he's subjected me to."

For that one thing Mr. Woods, I can never forgive you. You embarrassed a porn star. Have you no shame sir?

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