Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tiger, Tiger, Burning...not so bright?

Tiger Woods’ cupboard just doesn’t seem big enough, does it? More and more women seem to tumble out of it, only to spill sordid details of their illicit liaisons with the ace golfer to the highest bidder. The press and the media in general are having a field day in the process and laughing all the way to the bank. If it’s about anything even marginally striped, it appears to sell. In the melee, I am seriously half-tempted to claim a tempestuous relationship with Tiger myself, in a bid to make a quick and easy pile of cash from it all. I missed out on the property bubble and only the very imprudent would repeat their mistakes. Of course, as plan B, there is also my ‘I slept with Tiger Woods’ T-Shirt idea.

But in the end, my money making schemes will depend largely on the media keeping the story alive, the paying public’s continual obsession with celebrities. And though media memory can be short, the latter, as someone should no doubt tell Tiger, will almost always subsist. The media has done a bang up job so far, one has to admit, milking the story for all its worth. So is the trial by media justified? A lot of people ask if he really deserves this. After all, he’s a professional golfer, not a preachy clergyman. But all the advocates of the ‘leave Tiger alone’ andolan seem to forget that celebrity status, the very essence of the piece, is a many-edged sword. Didn’t Tiger sign up for this? Surely he couldn’t have been this na├»ve, so as to expect to be left alone by the tabloids in his moment of ‘personal sin’? Hero worship is welcome when things go well, and coverage should cease when transgressions abound? Champions are made of sterner stuff, na?Any number of celebs actively court publicity and attention when it helps their cause and strangely play the privacy card when it doesn't. They make a fat pile of cash from all the brouhaha, to boot. Millions of dollars were spent to cultivate the image of the perfect athlete, in
Tiger’s case. PR machines, celebrity consultants and corporate support were ever-ready and it all helped to bring home the millions for Tiger. Sure, we don’t need to print funny T-shirts, or even print juicy stories about him in newspapers and glossy rags, or pay his mistresses to divulge the good bits (and the not so good ones), but then, neither do we need to drink Gatorade, wear Rolex, and employ Accenture. To justify the billion dollar endorsement deals, there’s always the demand and supply argument, isn’t there? Excess media attention? Same same, not different.

While intense media scrutiny is admittedly part and parcel of public life, there are some lines that need to be drawn. I am in no way justifying some of the means that news reporters or the paparazzi use to get you the latest dirt. No hidden cameras and stalking please. We don’t want another Princess Di to happen. But, on the assumption that boundaries of decency, good sense and basic journalistic ethics are not breached, I see no reason for Tiger to complain about the excessive coverage his story is receiving.

So zip up, Tiger, and stop whining. The cameras will go way only when there’s a better story. And, in the meanwhile, if you find it amusing, I have this T-shirt idea…

This article first appeared in January 2010 edition of 'KINDLE'.


Friday, January 01, 2010

Have a great 2010!

Seasons greetings! Here's wishing everyone a fabulous 2010 ahead. It's been a tumultuous decade, with the last couple of years being especially trying. But things aren't always as bad as they seem, and being a bit of an optimist when it comes to predicting the future, I'm sure things will carry on well enough in the coming decade...

Here's a few words from Outlook's Vinod Mehta on the year that went by and the need for a dash of temperability -

"Take 2009. We thought that the Satyam scandal would seriously shake international confidence in our prestigious and profitable software industry. (Our software industry continues to be a cash cow and is still universally admired.) We thought Varun Gandhi’s hate speeches would communalise the general election. (Nothing of that sort happened, no communal incidents took place.) We thought the stockmarket, having crashed, would never recover, leading scores of investors to suicide and the country to financial ruin. (The Sensex is currently buoyant and might soon hit 20000). We thought that the world’s first pandemic this century, swine flu, would result in mass fatalities. (The pandemic has blown away, less than 200 people in India died.) We thought the expulsion of Jaswant Singh for writing a provocative but boring book would mean disaster for the bjp and its extinction as a serious political formation. (After some hiccups, a fresh, young, eager team is in place; Mr Advani is very much around, and wonder of wonders, there is talk of Mr Jaswant Singh going “home”). We thought the entry of Barack Obama into the White House would usher in a brave, new world with the United States mending its ways. (President Obama is doing terribly and Uncle Sam, as visible in Copenhagen, has not changed his stripes.)