Those of you who risked your safety and sanity at shopping malls in the early morning hours of Black Friday may have missed the most significant news story of last weekend. No, I’m not talking about nuclear weapons in Iran or the effect of holiday travel on the environment. I am talking about Tiger Woods’s mysterious car accident. Talk about a hard-hitting news story.
With all of the media coverage of the incident, he must have been seriously injured, right? No, not really. He hurt someone else, then? No, he just hit a fire hydrant and a tree. Are the rumors that his wife found out he was having an affair and attacked him with a golf club true? Though anything is possible, these have yet to be confirmed.
So, why should anyone care about this? They shouldn’t.
Woods’s so-called “indiscretions” are irrelevant. The media onslaught that came in the wake of this event forced me to question society’s priorities. The sad truth is that Woods is not the first professional athlete to be corrupted by an affair — rumored or factual — and he certainly will not be the last. Though intriguing, the sexual escapades of a professional golfer really aren’t the public’s concern.
But when the American media gets their hands on something this juicy, they just can’t help themselves.
The societal obsession with celebrities seems to be in overdrive lately. There is no such thing as a low profile. If you are even remotely famous and you dare to sneeze in public, someone is going to talk about it. I get the feeling that the producers of morning talk shows wake up every day praying that Octo-Mom is pregnant, that Balloon Boy actually flies away in a balloon and that Adam Lambert humps another man’s face in public. I’m pretty confident that Matt Lauer would sacrifice his first-born child to go through the spectacle of Michael Jackson’s death all over again.
America loves a scandal, and Woods’s situation is the best kind: The fall from grace. What is interesting about an attractive, young, wealthy, champion athlete, philanthropist and low-key guy? Nothing. But toss a banged-up Escalade, an alleged affair with a stripper and an allegedly angry wife into the mix, and now we have a story. There is no reputation too clean to tarnish. With hard work and perseverance anyone can be made to look like a total jerk.
By looking at the incident from this perspective, it’s absurd. But America still tunes in. Public attention has been focused on Woods even more intently than when he’s playing golf. Woods released a statement apologizing, taking responsibility and asking for privacy, but of course the prying still hasn’t stopped. Everyone wants to know more and they need to know now. And the media is aware that whoever reports this information first, wins.
But with all the craziness going on in the world, the preoccupation with Woods is a shame. There are many important and significant things happening on the planet right now. Conflict in the Middle East, the global economy and the environment — these things are relevant and require our attention. Time magazine, in its November issue, termed the past 10 years the “Decade from Hell.” It’s true that life in America hasn’t been fun lately. But buying into the media-induced distractions of celebrity gossip won’t make life better. We need to focus on the realities that affect our day-to-day lives if we are ever going to fix them, no matter how unpleasant they may be. Incidents like Woods’s might provide us with distractions, but they are distractions we can’t afford right now.
Students, especially, need to be wary of falling into the bottomless pit that is the celebrity obsession culture. Much of the task of making the world suck less will very soon fall to us, and knowing how many seasons of VH1’s Tool Academy that Jamiee Grubbs — Woods’s alleged mistress — appeared in probably won’t be relevant.
Michelle DeWitt is an LSA sophomore.