Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright

In the forest, in the...nude? Well, sort of...:
(CBS)  While Tiger Woods remains holed up in seclusion more than a month after his Thanksgiving Day crash, never-before-seen images of the world's No. 1 golfer have surfaced in this month's Vanity Fair, reports CBS News correspondent Jeff Glor.
A bare-chested Woods graces the cover of the magazine -- Woods holding a dumbbell in each hand.
The shots, taken by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz back in January of 2006, give a rare glimpse into the life of the world's most guarded athlete.
The words I've heard bandied about here are "intense, dedicated, raw".
In other words, practically (save for "dedicated") the opposite of his persona.
There's a lesson here for all of us who admire celebrities: don't.
Don't admire anyone who hires a publicist or a manager or an agent or charge d'affaires. The image you are admiring is likely not what that person really is, and if you have to aspire to a fictional character, then aspire to fiction with your eyes open. Admire Captain Kirk, or Luke Skywalker, or Tess of the D'Urbervilles.
Or admire what Woods could have been, because it's clear he is not whom he was presented to be.
I have often wondered why we swallow these images whole. Part of me thinks it goes back to the Bible, and those tales of superhuman endurance and semi-divine men and women who walked our planet and left footprints that by rights we are unworthy to follow, but who probably were human to begin with.
Even Jesus had a temper, in other words, but we are offered him as a God who was perfect, which we should aspire to even tho we are guaranteed to fail. Similarly, we conflate heroism on humans, taking a talent or small act and assuming the entire soul follows in those footsteps. And vice versa. We assume evil is evil through and through, even if simple observation of the people around us shows that people are neither good nor bad, but a mix, so even saints and devils must have a little of both.
It's clear that Woods was not the ultranice citizen of the world he claimed to be. In these photos, he shows a complete narcissistic side of himself, a man in love with being Tiger Woods, a man who gives flinchingly to others of whom he is.
Ask Elin if you don't believe that last bit. In exchange for selling his soul, his essence, he signed a bondage agreement with a wife, his sponsors and a sport that values dignity and comportment above improved play or score. The scary bit is, what's going on in that sport that is going on in other sports, that golf is not talking about openly? How different will golf's image be once the steroid and amphetamine scandals erupt from the clubhouses?
How will golf survive? It won't attract the kind of sponsors it does now, upscale investment banks and luxury cars, and it won't be able to assume an image that's more down to earth (maybe if the LPGA was forced to play in bikinis and have implants, and the PGA was forced to play in Speedos and have full contact).
And maybe it shouldn't. Golf has always tried to walk a fine line between sport and diversion. Golf is a sport the way walking is a sport: it's a fine way to pass time if you've got gobs of it to waste, but to sit and watch someone engaging in it is an even bigger waste of time. In this regard, setting up a webcam on a busy street ought to be classified as sport.
And it dumbs down the definition of sport while it debases its true nature. Fractally, this reflects in Woods' own persona. He's dumbed himself down in order to fit into a sport that denies his true nature. The most interesting comment I've heard on the entire mess was on the Today Show this morning, when some yahoo told him to show up at the Masters riding a Harley, tattoos all over his arms, unshaven, win the tournament, throw away the green jacket and hook up with the first woman he comes across in the press tent after demolishing the competition.
I concur, actually. Be who you are, Tiger. Stop pleasing everyone else around you. You are the most talented golfer on the planet, and you shouldn't have to lower yourself to some image that others have of you.
Does it really matter if you earn $100 million a year or $50 million a year? Endorsements will come simply because of the talent. It may take a while, but you're very young and eventually people will not only forgive you, they'll come to see your point of view.
Fuck redemption. Teach the world a lesson about getting the fucking sticks out of its collective ass.