Tiger’s Sex “Scandal” is About…Sex

OK, it turns out the guy slept with a few other women besides his wife.

My first question about revelations like this (other than the way they frequently undo hypocritical conservative lawmakers) is always “who cares?”

My second question is, “with non-politicians, why does the public feel it has a right to know?” I’ve never heard a good answer to this, but today, my local sports columnist Mark Purdy gave the silliest, most disingenuous answer I’ve ever heard: because it possibly affected Tiger’s game.

Yeah, right—it has nothing to do with America’s insatiable appetite for excuses to leer about sex. C’mon, everything in an athlete’s life potentially affects their performance: their kids’ school problems, their husband’s temper, their bad investments, the barking dog that keeps them awake, their maid’s hysterectomy.

But who cares about those things? Virtually no one.

People love revelations about celebrities’ sex lives because:
1) People love the excuse to talk about sex; and
2) People love when the rich and famous are taken down a notch, especially if it’s by their own er, hand.

But it takes the American media to sanctimoniously pretend that the public isn’t just frothing about the sex. Right—we’re just calmly interested in our athletes’ performance, and so we care, really care, about the vicissitudes of Tiger’s or Kobe’s or Tonya’s life.

Americans are so uptight we can’t even admit we enjoy drooling about other people’s sex lives. In addition to demanding our celebrities be sexually pure—and claiming outrage when they aren’t—we feel the need to pretend we are, too. Yeah, unlike people around the globe, we never look down a woman’s blouse or notice when a guy’s pants are too tight.

Another common narrative invariably hauled out at times like this is ‘rich and famous men cheat with beautiful young women.’

Oh, please. Let’s say there are 1 million extra-marital affairs in America per year (1% of today’s 100,000,000 marriages, a pretty conservative estimate). Most of these are not between rich, famous men and drop-dead gorgeous young women. They involve people at all income levels, at every level of attractiveness. The idea that affairs are the playground of greedy rich men who feel too entitled is a way of justifying moral outrage or personal envy or simply resentment that someone somewhere is having better sex than you are. Get over it.

Tiger’s an entertainer, and entertainers are people. They sell us their performance—if we buy. It’s the same with our doctor and our dry cleaner. They owe us nothing else—not even an honest public persona.

Americans maintain a cult of celebrity, then complain when celebrities play us. The game involves creating a public persona (innocent virgin, bad boy, mad genius), which the public accepts. Once we’ve bought the persona, we don’t want to see who the person really is if it conflicts with their image. We feel foolish, and then we feel angry.

Well, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus. If the way Tiger or Kobe play ball gives you value for your time, money, and allegiance, watch and enjoy. If their performance isn’t entertaining enough—whether because they’ve gotten fat, or old, or distracted by a lawsuit or a son’s kidney transplant, change the channel. There are plenty other celebrities to put on a pedestal—from which to eventually knock them down.

And if you enjoy the opportunity Tiger’s given you to talk about sex at work for the next few days, grow up and admit it—instead of criticizing him.

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