Tiger Woods Nike ad: Penance as commodity
Thursday, April 8, 2010
I don't know about you, but I didn't need a TV commercial to extract my pound of flesh, thank you very much. Tiger Woods has either learned a lesson, and grown as a person, and all that jazz, or he hasn't. Hasn't the self-flagellation gone on long enough?
Guess not. Now he's letting Nike take a few whacks, via a commercial featuring a voiceover of his late father, Earl Woods, posing questions while Tiger stares into the camera, looking . . . what? Guilty? Penitent? Mercenary?
Nike is apparently the only major sponsor still in Woods's corner, and by the simple fact that you're talking about it and I'm writing about it and you're reading what I write about it and then writing to me about it, we're all giving Nike exactly what it wants. And presumably, we're giving Woods what he wants, too. After all, he signed off on this painful 30 seconds.
Whatever happened to stoicism, and suffering in silence on occasion? I am quite sure Woods is troubled, even haunted, by thoughts of what his father would say if he were alive. This is good; this is one cause of shame, which in this country may one day become an SAT vocabulary word because so few people seem to understand it anymore.
(Tiger's father, having had peccadilloes of his own, might feel it was a little hypocritical to chastise his son for doing the same, but he won't have the chance to express his feeling about any of this, because he's dead. And all the sound editors in the world can't bring him back.)
If Woods is feeling real, true shame -- not regret that he got caught, not regret that his golf game has suffered, but real sorrow over what he's done to his family -- then he might be able to fix the mess he's made of his life. But his shame is his; it shouldn't be used to sell golf shirts. What's next, a 30-second video clip of Elin yelling at him for forgetting to take out the trash?
Just because we can now bare our souls for the world to see, to share every random thought that pops into our heads and dissect every emotion we feel, doesn't mean we should. It's okay -- even good -- to wrestle with your demons without benefit of an audience, to commune with your beloved father in your head, to have an inner life. If it doesn't make a good commercial, then so be it.