Monday, December 14, 2009

Tiger-love: Or How America Learned to Stop Thinking and Love Celebrity Gossip

Visit nearly any current event webpage today, and you will hear the same message. That Tiger Woods is an adulterer. That Tiger Woods is a very bad man. Recently, as the women step up to be counted among his mistresses, we are even hearing stories about him having crazy weekends blowing $40K in Vegas on huge drinking binges, and having his way with 10-15 woman at any one time. (1)

Now let’s take a step back and breathe, America, because it’s gone well past the point of ridiculous. What began as a simple celebrity affair has become more like a series of opulent orgy scenes from Caligula.

So I would just like to explain a few things. Call it a last-ditch effort before he’s implicated of some completely untrue bondage fetish and people really lose their minds about Tiger.

Yes, Tiger obviously cheated on his wife, and that’s bad. If he’s divorced, maybe he should give her the millions she’s entitled to according to their pre-nuptial agreement. And maybe his impeccable character was manufactured. But let’s be honest. To most golf fans, it might have well been an arranged marriage. To us, she wanted money and to be with the best golfer in the world. He wanted a smoking hot blonde wife. I didn’t think the relationship went too far past that, and if it did, we didn’t need to know.

But in the wake of the recent news, American women are claiming some kind of curious affinity to Elin Nordegren, the victim housewife who was wronged, although they know nothing about her and her lifestyle is anything but something the common woman can relate to.

Even more curious, the public is all too eager to start casting stones at Tiger. The dreadful hypocrisy here is that the same people that crucify Tiger as a whore are viciously defending the whores he allegedly had sex with, even to the point of vocally supporting them in litigation against Tiger. Why? Do the American people really think Tiger took some kind of precious innocence from the loose women that are coming forward, who “maybe” had sex with him and are now chomping at the bit to publicize that fact and take his money?

Maybe. Or maybe these Americans want to see Tiger punished so badly that they'll claim a moral alignment with the likes of these cocktail waitresses, escorts, porn stars, or worst of all, would-be reality television divas.

And as ridiculous as that is, many Americans will never get past it. That is because most Americans have attention spans that can be measured in microseconds, and celebrity gossip-hounds are the worst. Therefore, most people won’t take the time to think anything other than the message they hear on the news: that Tiger is a real bad guy, a sex-fiend and adulterer. And I fear he will never win a spot in their good graces again.

But to the sports fans that are not yet a lost cause buried in a sea of TMZ, and whose evening schedules are not contingent on the progress of American Idol: let’s compare him to other athletes for a moment.

If he were single, would this even be an issue? No, probably not. So his marriage is the spark inciting most of the public rage. However, we know of numerous baseball and football players that are well-known for this kind of activity, and yet they are not nearly as vilified by the media. Furthermore, baseball players who allegedly took steroids have more peace of mind than Tiger, and Tiger’s crimes have nothing to do with his sport; it’s entirely personal.

So let him work out his personal life, either by repairing the marriage and moving on, or by a divorce and a fiscal pounding. And let him play some golf for God’s sake, without condemnation campaigns from the soulless media trying to get rich from his tragic fall. He is not a celebrity because he is a beacon of moderation or morality, though some people chose to paint him that way and even Tiger himself embraced that image. He is a celebrity because he is quite possibly the best golfer to ever live, and these are the years where he can take the "quite possibly" out of this sentence forever.

Golf needs Tiger Woods on the PGA Tour. And don’t worry, he’ll still have legions of fans. They’ll just be less fickle and judgmental, and will simply appreciate his contribution to the sport rather than gawk at the fact that he is super-rich and in the sacred media limelight. And that’s going to have to be enough for him.

William Sullivan
Houston, TX


Monday, December 7, 2009

Al Gore: Environmentalist, Politician... Poet?

Step aside Shakespeare, Whitman, and Dickinson. Embrace the work of the prophet and Savior, Al Gore.

One thin September soon
A floating continent disappears
In midnight sun

Vapors rise as
Fever settles on an acid sea
Neptune's bones dissolve

Snow glides from the mountain
Ice fathers floods for a season
A hard rain comes quickly

Then dirt is parched
Kindling is placed in the forest
For the lightning's celebration

Unknown creatures
Take their leave, unmourned
Horsemen ready their stirrups

Passion seeks heroes and friends
The bell of the city
On the hill is rung

The shepherd cries
The hour of choosing has arrived
Here are your tools (1)

It's a very pleasing poem to the global warming advocate, and your average English undergrad may even find it pleasing to the ear, delighted that such language is still used. The problem is, it’s not a very good poem. It lacks depth, is utterly blatant, and unjustifiably implies parity with classical poetry. As for its substance, its purpose is the same as his film's: to scare the hell out of people about global warming.

Yet Gore is somehow collecting idiotic accolades. Mark Hetzgaard, from Vanity Fair, praises him for his contribution, saying of Mr. Gore’s poetic lines: they are visually specific and emotionally arresting even as they are scientifically accurate. (2)

Mr. Hetzgaard should impart his Vanity Fair wisdom about what is so "scientifically accurate" about this poem. It seems much more like a collection of outcomes to an outlandish doomsday prophecy, every bit as "scientific" as the Book of Revelations.

Even more frustrating, of the final stanza, Mr. Hetzgaard has this to say: "Is Gore himself that shepherd? No matter. What counts is that the hour of choosing has indeed arrived." Mr. Hetzgaard can delude himself about the intention, but Al Gore most certainly likens himself to a shepherd in the final stanza, warning his flock about the coming disaster. It is difficult to cast aside his egotism, and even harder to ignore his use of the allegorical "shepherd" imagery to establish himself as a Christ-like figure. But if we push these criticisms of his arrogance aside, we can approach the "scientific accuracy" of his predictions with one question that Mr. Gore repeatedly ignores:

If his predictions are “scientifically accurate,” then why is there a schism in the scientific community between those who believe in anthropogenic global warming and those who believe in naturalistic climate change? There is a consortium of scientists saying that changes in anthropogenic activity will have little effect on future climate patterns. Since the "science" is in contention, perhaps rather than saying Gore is "scientifically accurate," Mr. Hetzgaard would be more truthful to relate that "Mr. Gore is scientifically accurate according to the science that he and I subscribe to."

This poem has little literary value and no scientific merit whatsoever, and should be referenced only as a piece of propaganda espousing man-made global warming. It merely provides a picture of the elaborate Armageddon of the environmentalist's Faith. Given that global warming alarmism is the creed of choice for many liberal arts patrons, I will not be surprised when Gore claims a Pulitzer.

But Gore’s poem is brilliant in one specific way, insofar as his intent. He seems as if he’s channeling masterful poets, almost as if written in emulation of classical poetry. This is evident in William Petrocelli’s account in the Huffington Post. In an effort to receive self-validation, Gore jovially suggested to his editor that William Butler Yeats had written the poem to see if it was believable. (1) He even references Poseidon, god of the sea, in his Roman name of Neptune. Invoking historical gods of the Greeks is a common theme in classical poetry, and this reference's unnecessary inclusion is meant to give the poet the credibility of a well-read author. This way, if Gore’s poem is negatively critiqued, Gore and his supporters can just say that the naysayer is too unsophisticated and uneducated to understand the value of it.

So Gore will know well how to spin any criticism. After all, he is highly experienced in admonishing cynics as ignorant primitives; it has been his one and only response to those who challenge his ideas on anthropogenic global warming.

William Sullivan