Thursday, December 31, 2009

a moment of hope to end the year

You know what’s kind of cool? And kind of gives me hope? The fact that AT & T, Accenture and Gillette have either dropped entirely or “scaled back” their business relationships with Tiger Woods.

I love the statement from Accenture, indicating that Woods was “no longer the right representative” for their company’s values. That’s the closest I’ve heard anyone come to saying he’s a scumbag they no longer admire. Good for them! Still to come, an update from Electronic Arts and Nike regarding their relationship with Woods. Gatorade, as previously reported, had ‘already planned’ to drop their Tiger-labeled beverage before the uproar that resulted from the unzipped fly heard round the world.

As I said, this sort of news gives me hope for humanity. It turns out that with the exception of the behavior exhibited by some of Hollywood’s movers and shakers, we are not quite as willing as we seem to look the other way when someone does the wrong thing. Hollywood luminaries seem to get a pass from us. Some people still accept people like Woody Allen and Roman Polanski. Based on box office receipts and industry awards, we long ago forgave the aberrant deeds of Robert Downey Jr. and the downright slimy behavior by Jude Law; we’ve embraced that champion of free (hate) speech in this country, Sean Penn; Britney Spears' tour ranked # 4 in Top Concert revenue for 2009 and we keep tuning in to watch the personal train wreck called Charlie Sheen every week, right?

We’ve accepted the endless parade of children born to Hollywood “partners” who are not married couples. And although it seems charming and adorable and hip when they do it, it’s not so amusing when that behavior is emulated by fans with about 1/1000of the income and resources their idols enjoy in Beverly Hills.

We’ve read tabloid coverage of the scandals and breakups of Hollywood couples for years. Not one of us stopped buying tickets to see Brad or Angelina after he left Jennifer in the dust. I guess we expect (to some degree) that stars will act like stars – and treat themselves to their every desire - and then enjoy the resulting headlines.

But with the news about Tiger Woods, our mostly dormant and silent morals (remember morals?) have exerted themselves and made themselves known. A USA Today / Gallup poll on Woods’ popularity tells us that his “favorable rating” has dropped even faster than his pants as a result of his out of town activities. He had enjoyed an 85% favorable rating in June 2005 and he’s down to 33%. Just as significant, his unfavorable rating has grown from a mere 8% to 57%. Not one of those points was lost or gained as a result of his action on a golf course. Every single point was earned or lost because he cheated on his wife. That’s it.

Then again, maybe Tiger had remarkably bad timing and appeared last in the long line of cheaters we’ve heard from this year. Maybe we’d collectively just about had enough. If you’re David Letterman or Mark Sanford or even Elliott Spitzer, you’re thinking, “Thank you, God” right about now.

In the meantime, kudos to the Board of Directors or the PR departments or the accountants at AT&T, Accenture and Gillette. Like anyone in business with Woods, I’m certain they were watching his poll numbers plummet and were less than pleased about the millions of dollars budgeted for his endorsement. I’m also sure they were wondering how well their companies or products would fare with those folks who answered those poll questions. But even given all that, some part of their decisions had to emerge from at least a few people sitting in emergency meetings in boardrooms around the country saying something like, “He’s history. He’s kind of disgusting. And we need to end this now.” Announcing a separation from Woods is one small moment of common sense in a society that seems to be sorely lacking it.


ljr said...

you won't like me - but have made peace is that

renee said...

Hmmm, I wouldn't say this is a deal breaker about whether or not you "like" someone or not. And more power to you.

Truth is, whatever Tiger Woods or his wife choose to do makes not one bit of difference to me or to my life. Except in the larger sense I implied in the post; that the 'bit by bit degradation' of our standards and reasonable behavior by thinking, rational, educated, seemingly respectable adults lowers the standards for all of us, even just the slightest bit.

And anything that stops that slide is fine by me.

Richard said...

You already know that I am faithfully married for over 30 years, but have my times of frustration and temptation. And I totally agree with you on Tiger.

I am wondering what I missed about Sean Penn, however. In his Oscar acceptance speech, Penn went on to say he was proud to live in a country where an elegant man could be elected President (Barack Obama). Then Penn said that people who voted against gay marriage rights should be ashamed and that their grandchildren would be ashamed of them. Hate?

As a secular humanist, I support gay marriage, or whatever you want to call it. I know Penn has a penchant for slugging photographers, but I am not familiar with his "hate speech."

renee said...

Hi Richard - thanks for your - as always - thoughtful comment.

It's not so much hate speech as it is the hate sentiment that I object to from Sean Penn. Most of us tend to have our views and I can live with diverse opinion - I really can.

What I don't understand is the celebration of victory by denigrating the opponent. This is from the end of his article in The Nation about his trip to interview Hugo Chavez and Raul Castro:

"I sat on the edge of my bed with my wife, son and daughter, tears streaming down my face, as Barack Obama spoke for the first time as the president-elect of the United States of America.

I closed my eyes and started to see a film in my head. I could hear the music too, appropriately the Dixie Chicks covering a Fleetwood Mac song over slow-motion images in montage. There they were: Bush, Hannity, Cheney, McCain, Limbaugh and Robertson. I saw them all. And the song was rising as the image of Sarah Palin took over the screen. Natalie Maines sweetly sang,

And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills
till the landslide brought me down.
Landslide brought me down..."

My question is this: If he was overcome with emotion - totally understandable as all Obama voters were thrilled to celebrate his victory - why wasn't he focusing on the words he was speaking?

Instead, he visualized - or as he said, created an entire film with a soundtrack - about the "losers" and enjoyed that moment instead.

That night was about Obama's victory and his promises to the nation, not about Pat Robertson.