Friday, December 11, 2009

The great setup

Trash culture. I hate it! I do my level best to ignore it. We don't have cable and I don't look at tabloid internet sites. But you'd have to live up in the mountains in Tibet to avoid the Tiger Woods story. I don't know the details about his affairs and I certainly don't care to know them. If it were up to me, I wouldn't know anything at all about his personally life.

The world we live in, though, is not my ideal society. We feast on the misery of others. We build them up to great heights by paying attention to the details of what they wear on the red carpet and what their babies look like. We load their bank vaults by going to see their movies and watch them play their games. We make them American royalty but commit regicide as soon as they make a mistake.

This is exactly what we are seeing with Tiger Woods. Before he was even eligible to turn pro, we anointed him the next Jack Nicklaus. Corporations, with money from us consumers, made him a millionaire many times over with endorsement and advertisement money. Would they have paid him if you didn't buy their products? No. All that wealth is really a gift from you to him.

But now he has sinned -- multiple times. And the finger-wagging, name-calling, and judgment has begun. A man who was two weeks ago a hero -- practically a national treasure -- is now a pariah. Women especially seem to be tearing him to shreds over his (inexcusable) infidelity. It's interesting that JFK, RFK and Bill Clinton are still seen as heroes despite their identical moral failings, but that's another story for another time.

The moral outrage over Tiger's philandering is particularly galling to me. Is that because I don't think he was wrong? No. Am I galled because I don't think affairs with multiple women isn't serious? No. I'm peeved because: a) the moral outrage seems disproportionately high; b) the people most loudly calling for his head fail to recognize Tiger has done really what our society has, in many ways, said is acceptable. People scoff at the notion of traditional values. Marital fidelity is one of those cornerstone moral principles that is fluid and situational. We crucify Tiger woods for cheating but say nothing about the 50% or so married average Joes and Janes that do exactly this. Worse yet, we encourage divorce for those that are "unhappy," whatever that might mean.

Even more to the root of the matter, we have created an amoral sexually charged culture that encourages sexual behavior outside of marriage. If it doesn't matter if are married before you have sex with each other, why should it matter if you have sex with someone while married to another? What's really the difference? It's just a pleasure activity, after all, right?

Men are taught to be hyper-sexual, less so by their male peers, than advertisers and corporations who stand to make fortunes by selling us beer by showing us guys partying with young, beautiful bikini-clad girls. Why do we expect men to behave in dignified ways when we promise them all the sex they can get if they wear the right aftershave?

Our society is sex, sex, sex. Porn is now "mainstream" and "normalized." But if you have sex when we tell you not to, you deserve our wrath. We dangle it in front of our young mens' faces and tell them not to have it.

If I could wave a magic wand, I would de-sexualize as much of the media as possible and give people books to read instead of TV to watch. Perhaps that would break the cycle of making kings for the purpose of later pulling down their kingdoms.

No comments: