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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Voyeurism, Celebrity and Tiger Woods

When is a minor traffic accident not merely a minor traffic accident? It's when that accident involves a celebrity. Since Friday, the media has bordered on near obsession with the traffic accident involving Tiger Woods, a fire hydrant, and a tree. It's not merely a sports story. It's not merely a celebrity story. It's a news story. It's now the story that a Fox News is leading with.

As most people know sometime around 2 in the morning on Friday morning, Tiger Woods got into his SUV, backed out of the driveway, and nailed a fire hydrant and then a tree. That's all we know. We don't know why? Only Woods himself knows why and so far he's not talking. Because he's not, the endless speculation has begun.

There's a rumor that Woods was having an affair, the subject of a National Inquirer story a couple days prior. There were rumors that Woods wife had assaulted him prior to the accident or vice versa. Because Woods has been quiet thus far, the media has been given full license to speculate endlessly.

As far as mysteries go, this one is among the most boring. How interesting could a traffic accident be? If this was merely a boneheaded move by Woods, I'm sure he can afford the fine. If this was the result of a domestic dispute that's a problem for Woods and his wife. If there was a crime committed, we'll know soon enough.

What's a lot more interesting is how fascinated our society has become in this story. My rule of thumb for any celebrity story is would I care if the same thing were happening to an average person. On that level, this story fails miserably. There's absolutely no to care. Yet, most of us do because it's happening to Tiger Woods.

If ever there was proof of the coarsening nature of our celebrity culture, it this story. A minor traffic accident turns into a major story and a story that involves endless speculation. Worse yet, it's a story that runs the gammet of media: sports, gossip and straight news. All our media isn't only giving attention but endless attention to a traffic accident. We've all become voyeurs. We've all become so fascinated with Tiger Woods that we need to know every detail of his life including the state of his marriage, his driving skills, and by extension we need to know every detail of his life.

The world moves forward. Iran is building a nuclear weapon. Health care moves forward. Dubai is about to default on nearly a hundred BILLION dollars worth of debt and our media is speculating endlessly on a traffic accident. Welcome to our endless obsession with celebrity in all its ugliness.

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