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The last thing I’ll say about Tiger

December 21, 2009

Believe me, I’m already so tired of the Tiger Woods controversy that I’m completely reluctant to add to a conversation that’s gotten very old.  But I do have to revisit my former blog  post in which I argued that Tiger Woods was entitled to privacy surrounding the issue of whatever marital problems he seemed to be going through.

Let me point out, in defense of what some might call my naïveté at the time, that when I wrote that all we knew was 1. Tiger Woods had been in some kind of strange auto accident in his own driveway; and 2. there was some issue of marital discord mysteriously connected with the accident. 

Since then, more facts have emerged. The parade of – what’s the count up to now – 13? – so-called mistresses had yet to appear on morning shows sofas to regale us with how tender a lover Tiger was.

For the record, I’m still not interested in the guy’s personal life.  (But then, I’m not interested in golf, either.) But what I do accept as pertinent is the fact that far more than amassing great wealth by winning major golf tournaments, Tiger Woods has earned billions from corporate endorsements.  And that was based on the strength of one thing alone: his squeaky clean image – which included the whole picture of the doting wife and gorgeous children.  That commodity – the reputation he put up for sale to the highest bidders – has been clearly compromised.

I get that now.

But what still bothers me is that whole tenuous relationship between sex and public image.  Why the virulent public interest in someone else’s sex life, celebrity or not?

All right, the issue here isn’t really about about sex, but about extra-marital sex.  We live in a society that reveres monogamy. In the chapter called “Banish the Naysayers” in my book Happily Ever After Divorce: Notes of a Joyful Journey, I argue that the negative reaction that the statement “we’re getting divorced” always seems to elicit suggests that divorce – or in this case, infidelity – is something akin to a communicable disease: 

If it could happen to us (“Such a nice family!”), it could happen to anyone, right? 

But is the social order truly threatened when a highly regarded celebrity – admittedly, one with a remarkable golf swing – is discovered to be sleeping around, resulting in legions of other men following suit?  

I’m sorry, but I give men more credit than that.  Anyone can see that someone who needs to repeatedly seek some kind of elusive satisfaction by hopping from one new bed to another has a serious problem.  It’s hard to imagine that anyone would want that kind of lifestyle, given all the darting in and out of shadows that must be required.

It’s all quite pathetic, really.

I think this whole tar-and-feathering of Tiger Woods, and the public’s fascination with it, says a lot more about our society’s fear of social disequilibrium than it does about sex, golf, or even, for that matter, Gillette razor blades.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Christine Pakkala permalink
    December 22, 2009 12:11 pm

    Besides that squeaky clean image, he was also selling his golf prowess. I wonder why we expect our star athletes to be demi-gods?

    Great post! Very thought provoking.

  2. Howard Shaw permalink
    December 22, 2009 4:58 pm

    You always seem to get to the heart of the matter. Great !

  3. December 30, 2009 10:57 am

    You ask a very relevant questions: Why the virulent public interest in someone else’s sex life, celebrity or not?

    I think it’s like the pleasure in gossip. Mostly we gossip about people we know, enjoying the (mostly negative) bits of information which fill out our picture of the person and often make us feel somewhat superior or more virtuous. In a media-driven age, it is not so surprising that people love gossip about celebrities.

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