Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tiger's Crucible

Donny Deutch says it's "Brilliant" and since he's pretty brilliant himself that means more than a little something. The new Nike ad with Tiger Woods can be described in a number of other ways — "Jarring," "Attention-getting," "Bold," as well as "Crass," "Manipulative" and "Unfortunate."

Five of those adjectives, even the pejoratives, are probably fine with the Mad Men crowd, who dispassionately craft immersive messages that target our passions. The more difficult the message (Cigarettes are cool, Cars you can't drive as fast as they go on TV are cool, The Jonas Brothers are cool) the bigger the challenge and, when successful, the sweeter the victory.

Woods has re-entered the real world via the unreal world that is the Masters Tournament. This makes perfect sense to me, as do all of the things that deliver us to the place where we can drop the subject.

I am not sure who the audience is for this, though, and why Team Tiger must perpetuate an unfortunate pander that the public ought to have a say in how Woods behaves.

Woods is a business with human frailties who must, for the sake of business, do damage control. It truly is not personal, it's business. But it is also unseemly. He's is trapped in a scene from "The Crucible."

Of course it's right to be faithful. Woods made that promise to his wife, and promises are more important than the law: We make them because we want to, not because we have to. But relationships are an entirely private matter. When we give strangers discretion over our own choices we are just asking for such things as bans on gay marriage.

How's the ad? Great. Fantastic. Daring. Brilliantly produced. Elegant in its spare concept. Masterful in the use of Woods' lecturing, and deceased father, speaking in an entirely different context (or several?) who knows when.

What I see is a man humiliating himself for money. The ad proves that Woods is no longer able to do whatever he wants to do, because he used to. He hurt a finite number of people, all of whom he knows personally and none of whom need to see this video on YouTube in which Woods the younger gets second billing to his stern mentor.

Woods didn't cheat on and lie to me, but because other strangers wagged their fingers at him he has to at least act contrite for public consumption.

I would prefer a John Proctor moment. Or for the entire thing to just go away.

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