Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Casting Golf Balls

I read a comment from a self-described Tiger Woods hater somewhere on the Fox Sports website who said he was pleased that the media had “finally” knocked Woods off his “pedestal.” Is this what the assault on Woods was all about? I have to admit that Woods was guilty of a moral crime, but so are many other multi-millionaire celebrities (especially in the film and television world), but for some people Woods’ escapades couldn’t have been more “welcome.” The black man who turned the white world of professional golf upside down and dominated it had to be beaten down and humbled. In a radio interview, Charles Barkley stated that “I told him years ago to quit saying you’re not black because all these people who smile at your face, when you screw up, you’re going to be black.” Barkley noted of Woods that “He’s not the kind of guy who is going to fight back,” a tendency which many in the media mistake for arrogance. The reality is quite different. Fellow golfer Pat Perez said in an interview that the media assault on Woods has forced him to play by media rules that have negated the personality traits that made him the great golfer he is. “He needs to get that prick back in him,” referring to his competitive fire. “But he knows he can’t do that, or he’s just going to get hammered by the media if he does anything.” If the sports media (especially the golf media) thinks a beaten-down Woods is good for the game, then maybe they (and fellow golfers who “benefit” from an absent Woods) should note depreciating TV ratings—and in the long-term, loss of pay-outs.

The constant harping for statements and apologies seem to be over, but not after the media took its pound of flesh out of Woods; he has lost millions in endorsement deals (which the endorsers were probably happy to unload anyways, due to the present economic times). Nevertheless, the question remains: “At what point does the media’s shameless fascination with a target’s travails say more about the media than it does the object of that fascination? In regard to Woods, the aptly-named magazine Vanity Fair has passed that point with its latest “expose.” Yes, Woods should not have agreed to do that initial photo spread, but this was followed in short order by an article that was more suitable for Hustler magazine, followed by a photo spread of various women involved with Woods in scanty attire. The media can claim the Trojan Horse of morality all they want, but inside we know is the wormy guts of titillation for profit.

I also find it fascinating how the white media has a taste for transforming black men into the poster boys for all manner of crimes to wet the appetites of those who view the world in terms of us versus “them”—while giving white celebrities every benefit (it was the NFL commissioner—not the media or the police—that brought Ben Roethlisberger to account). Clarence Thomas—sexual harassment. Mike Tyson—rape. Michael Jackson—pedophilia. O.J. Simpson—homicide. Tiger Woods—adultery. Bill Clinton—oral persuasion. OK, Clinton is white, but Toni Morrison did once call him America’s first “black” president. Back in the day, Muhammad Ali was a far worse traitor than Jane Fonda for most whites—not to mention with more “lip” than they could tolerate; Ali sacrificed far more for his political and religious stance on Vietnam (“No Vietcong ever called me n—r”) than any of those young white protesters during his three-year “exile” from boxing, during what could have been his best years in the ring.

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