Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hold That Tiger

Pretty bland exchange by and large I’d say, and I tuned out—being Canadian— when these guys started talking about college football. Except: it was intellectually infuriating.

It was extraordinary for me to hear Lipsyte’s appalling schadenfreude over Tiger’s troubles. These guys, I would bet, decry an American popular culture besotted with mind numbing, dehumanizing triviality, of which reality television and degenerate notions of celebrity-as in being famous only for being famous -are an apotheosis. These guys, who I never before heard of, in their by play over Tiger’s troubles went on and on about how unprepossessing he is, how robotic, how uninteresting. Maybe that’s all so. So fucking what?

My question is: why isn’t it enough for them—they are sports writers—that he is, let’s stipulate, the greatest golfer ever? On what basis do they get to expect any other talents and accomplishments from him (which he may or may not possess) and complain about what's lacking? Why isn’t his sheer golfing brilliance sufficient? That is all he asserts; that is all he would claim to be judged by.

Here is an irony flowing from their misapprehension of what is important: for all that they misconceivedly demand of Tiger apart from his athletic brilliance in his chosen sport, the only basis for legitimate judgment of him—he has broken no laws, after all, these guys, to the extent that their exchange is a window into their professional abilities, seem to me to be utter mediocrities—bland, unthinking, shallow, fundamentally uninteresting and imperceptive and unself aware.

Finally, I’d argue that their failure to understand how unforgivably far they are from what is truly important about Tiger is of a piece with their unwitting immiseration in the very horrifying banality they would decry. For only that, I’d contend, could distract them from Tiger’s greatness and could allow for their preoccupation with the intensely private matters of his own life and soul.

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