Saturday, December 19, 2009
Can’t see Woods for shes
I’ll let you into a secret. I feel less of a man because I can no longer aspire to the perfect symmetries and successes of the Tiger. I stare at my Gillette razors in dismay. They no longer have the magical power to promote youthful skin and manly insouciance. I won’t ever work for or with Accenture again. The man with whom I could identify has morphed into something else.
Becoming a celebrity has its pitfalls, as we know. There is possibly a formula for correlating fame with acute self-awareness in that those who are blessed with it seem to avoid the recidivism of their less endowed peers who return time and again to the stocks and the public humiliation of tomatoes and rotten eggs. Examples of those who manage to keep celebrity and pride would be Nabokov who, after writing Lolita, only did interviews by postcard, Pinter who did few to none and Tony Benn, who records everything so that he cannot be misrepresented later. Joanna Lumley uses her celebrity status to further the cause of the Gurkhas without a sniff of scandal in her life. To wit, the brighter ones use the media and are not used by them.
But the media is juiced up to fuel the juggernaut of product selling. Ad agencies seek celebrities to endorse their dubious products. They lie, for that is the first imperative of their trade. Think of how the banks were telling us to trust them (and still are) a year ago as they were out, like pools winners, on the dog tracks of the world with our money, betting on flaky US property enterprises. If you are going to be mendacious, then you need an image to dispel the aroma of seamy selling. The cleaner the image of the celebrity and the more successful s/he is, the more the lie seems like a version of the truth. So, behind that very successful, clean cut, sparkling toothed, sweet-skinned, perfectly proportioned visage hide the serried ranks of global hawkers. Tiger Woods, with his platinum blonde trophy of a wife, his perfect child, his incomparable sporting prowess and his manicured, anodyne urbanity, was top dollar in this regard.
Now, in a month all has changed and he has metamorphosed into a serial womaniser, a cad and a bounder. It is as though the authentic, Dorian Gray-like picture in his attic slunk downstairs to claim its inheritance again. So the advertisers are leaving in droves, clutching their contracts with the fine print out-clauses that there should be no adverse publicity that might erode the image of their perfect specimen.
It’s an irony, since their products have a far stronger affinity with the newly minted, disreputable Tiger than with the old.