Monday, April 12, 2010

The Picture of Tiger Woods

When he burst onto the sports pop scene, winning the Masters in 1997, Tiger Woods had a winning smile. He looked like America’s future, with his multicultural background and his Stanford-honed confidence. Now his Nike-sponsored visage is the face of corporate greed, American-style.

The 2010 Tiger Woods smile says, “Thanks, chumps.”

In a 13-year-ride, greased by his phony image, Woods has become the very picture of the pursuit of excellence ... gone wrong.

Talk about shameless: The Nike television ad he did, complete with his dead father’s voice playing behind his own many shades of gray mug shot -- heavy on the ambiguous angst -- made my skin crawl. Perhaps the guys who made that spot have been watching too many Ingmar Bergman films recently.

The parodies of this commercial are piling up at YouTube. (I'll let the reader find their own links.)

However, speaking of movies, the above-mentioned commercial also reminded me of “The Picture of Dorian Gray” (1945), which was a treatment of Oscar Wilde’s story with the same name. In the black and white movie, as in the original story, Dorian doesn’t age over the years. But his oil portrait hidden in the attic does.

In the movie each time Dorian visits the secret painting he sees the increasing corruption of his real life in the face on the canvas. Eventually, it becomes a monster. Each time we see the painting through Dorian’s eyes the image on the screen is in full color.

Inserting color footage clips into black and white films was done in those days. (Remember that Dorothy’s Kansas was in black and white, while Oz was in color.)

Anyway, when I first saw that black and white Tiger Woods ad, it made me think of Dorian Gray. So I wonder where Tiger’s keeping his oil portrait -- the full color version of the new Nike ad. It must already be a rough item to gaze upon.

Still, some of my readers probably think I’m being too hard on Woods. For those who chose to believe a cured and repentant Tiger has risen as a new man in the springtime, well, you can get in line now to buy whatever he’s selling.

Quoth the Tiger, “Thanks, again, chumps.”

-- Words and art by F.T. Rea

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