THE PLANK DECEMBER 8, 2009
Leave Tiger alone. Enough with the puns -- we get that he's really just a "cheetah" in disguise. Enough with the Barbie-of-the-Day revelations -- we get that he's attracted to a certain type. Enough with the whole thing -- we have far more important things to worry about.
Yeah, right. Sit down with a friend over lunch and try to have a conversation about health care, climate change, financial regulation or Afghanistan without straying at least once onto the oh-so-unimportant subject of Tiger Woods's philandering. I've given up trying to deny that the unfolding saga is compelling, even if paying attention leaves me feeling a bit disappointed in myself. Prurient interest is rarely something to be proud of.
This is called having it both ways. Anyway, Robinson managed--despite feeling disappointed in himself--to pen a whole column on Woods that says almost nothing of interest. But then there was this:
No offense to anyone who actually looks like Barbie, but it really is striking how much the women who've been linked to Woods resemble one another. I'm talking about the long hair, the specific body type, even the facial features. Mattel could sue for trademark infringement. This may be the most interesting aspect of the whole Tiger Woods story -- and one of the most disappointing. He seems to have been bent on proving to himself that he could have any woman he wanted. But from the evidence, his aim wasn't variety but some kind of validation.
I'm making a big assumption here that the attraction for Woods was mostly physical, but there's no evidence thus far that he had a lot of time for deep conversation. If adultery is really about the power and satisfaction of conquest, Woods's self-esteem was apparently only boosted by bedding the kind of woman he thought other men lusted after -- the "Playmate of the Month" type that Hugh Hefner turned into the American gold standard. But the world is full of beautiful women of all colors, shapes and sizes -- some with short hair or almond eyes, some with broad noses, some with yellow or brown skin. Woods appears to have bought into an "official" standard of beauty that is so conventional as to be almost oppressive. His taste in mistresses leaves the impression of a man who is, deep down, both insecure and image-conscious -- a control freak even when he's committing "transgressions."
The first sentence of the second paragraph is truly unintentional comedy at its best. But the argument that some men want to sleep with women who look like Barbie because men need "validation" might be true, but is rather speculative when applied to specific people. And why is Woods a control freak? A column that started out by trying to distance itself from gossip ends up engaging in the worst sort of speculation.
And, one does not want to push this too far, but the whole column reads as if Robinson is trying to subtly say something about race; if Woods had been sleeping with black women (and maybe he was--who knows?), I cannot believe that Robinson would have written the same piece. Maybe this explains why such a silly column is so unseemly.