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Jesse and Tiger, the Vet Will See You Now

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Jesse James and Tiger Woods cannot be labeled serial cheaters. Why? Because neither had a series of affairs (look, I’m not even bothering with “alleged” or “allegedly”; those terms are for news not opinion); they both had overlapping or concurrent affairs. For those who think it’s none of my business, you are absolutely right. Why should I care what a couple of cads do in their spare time?

I care because they are sending so many rotten messages. I may not be affected by their behavioral spam, but I live in a society where others are. Whether they like it or not, they are role models. People who admire them, and see how successful they are, think it’s okay that they do what they do (same for Roman Polanski and O.J. Simpson).

Once people begin thinking it’s okay for their idols to be irresponsible or criminal (or deserve special dispensation from the rules because they are so successful, well liked, or famous), they begin to apply that behavior code to themselves. What’s the big deal about a one-night stand, when you’ve got the celebrity lifestyle as a model of behavior?

Is it sexist of me to be using only male examples? Is it hypocritical to choose only one type of negative behavior? Put simply, no. Why not? Because I said so. Today I am talking about two high-profile cheaters. If you want to throw LeAnn Rimes into the mix, be my guest. I realize cheating isn’t less reprehensible when you confine yourself to one affair. And there are plenty of other ugly behaviors being flaunted in the media—but we’ll save them for another time.

What makes James and Woods stand out is the fact that both went into treatment after they were outed. Nice, guys. You didn’t think you were sick before, but now that you’ve been depicted as dogs, you’ll try the addiction dodge. Seeing as how you’re both dogs, and you both felt it necessary to hide behind doctors, perhaps the best medical treatment is offered at the Spay and Neuter Clinic.

If celebrities think their behavior has no effect on other people, people outside their circles, they are incredibly, ignorantly wrong. When a man is held up as a paragon of family values or his wife dotes on him and their spectacular relationship, he has successfully projected an image. If it turns out that image is false, he has betrayed everyone who bought into his mythos.  There is another sad side to this.

If a model family man turns out to be a creep, what about those around us who aren’t quite perfect? If people believe the PR about perfect families and perfect relationships, surely they (in their less-than-perfect relationships) might feel suspicious, threatened, or less secure.  Just as reports of widespread crime can keep people from going out at night, lurid headlines about unfaithful spouses can keep people from trusting others, or their own judgments.

What happens in Jesse James’ or Tiger Woods’ boudoirs isn’t just the stuff of late-night monologues, gossip rags, and TMZ. When it enters the public domain, it becomes part of our culture. Public apologies and addiction treatment notwithstanding, James and Woods need to make major, MAJOR efforts to redeem themselves in the eyes of the people they chose as their judges—their audiences.

In fact, guys, don’t lie, don’t deny, just keep your mouths shut. Tiger Woods was recently quoted saying he had done “pretty bad things.” Hey! Leaving your socks on the floor and dishes in the sink are pretty bad things. Allowing the garbage to overflow is a pretty bad thing. Fourteen affairs? Tiger, don’t you think you’ve wandered into the realm of “really bad things,” or “really very bad things”? Of course, arrogance knows no limits, and Woods went on to say that his wife, Elin, “had every right to be hurt.” I’m sure it makes her feel better knowing she has his permission to feel injured. I know I’ll sleep better tonight.

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About Miss Bob Etier

  • I guess I more or less agree with you, although I hate to admit that people are so lame as to be influenced by this sort of thing. One thing I don’t agree with is your point about going into treatment. This is something these celebrities are more or less “forced” to do by a culture (represented by their PR people no doubt) who make everything into an “illness” or “addiction.” I think – I hope – the public on the whole understands how absurd that is, and that doing this alleged “therapy” says nothing positive or negative about the celeb.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I’m not sure Tiger had the option of “keeping his mouth shut” with TMZ and other “media” outlets climbing around in the trash for a story. And I’m not so sure that I buy this idea that these figures, merely due to their fame, ought to held to such lofty standards so as to consider them to be “role models.”

    I think people are influenced by this sort of thing, but I highly doubt that anyone’s going to get the idea to cheat on his or her significant other from Tiger Woods or Jesse James or any other famous person. I don’t consider bad behaviour to be something people merely copy. I think that’s an oversimplification of infidelity and fame, for that matter.

    Ironically, you hold that these celebrities should somehow be punished for these actions and that they need to somehow “make it up to us” as thought that honestly makes a difference. Tiger’s “apology” was one of the saddest, dumbest things I’ve witnessed in a long time. That it was actually covered on “sports” shows was even worse, but the point is that he doesn’t actually owe us anything. He owes it to his family and to his wife and to anyone else he believes he’s wronged.

    But to have to trot Tiger out to “rehab” or something, like Jon touched on, is just ridiculous. That’s the sort of “comeuppance” we’re all looking for, this sort of “say it ain’t so Tiger” type mythos that denotes that “something must be wrong” with him to make him behave that way.

    People have affairs. Some people even have LOTS of affairs. It’s reality. In fact, many so-called “good” people have affairs. It happens. It’s creepy but it happens. The lesson here isn’t to hold people up to varying standards of punishment and morality, but rather to hold people up to the same standards by being compassionate and empathetic with respect to other peoples’ private problems. Perhaps if our society didn’t want to know what Tiger was up to so badly and wasn’t so obsessed with having “role models” of no real value, we wouldn’t be in this cultural mess.

  • Nadine

    These guys are like dingo’s roaming a homeless inability to wander…nothing more.
    The women that have provided them a place of love, need major upgrades here…A dingo is a dingo. Your precious things ladies not for the roving for a snack type, and it’s that simple. Simple as nature.

  • I guess I more or less agree with you, although I hate to admit that people are so lame as to be influenced by this sort of thing. One thing I don’t agree with is your point about going into treatment. This is something these celebrities are more or less “forced” to do by a culture (represented by their PR people no doubt) who make everything into an “illness” or “addiction.”

    Um, Jon, it’s contrary to say people are lame if they feel influenced by celebrities, but then say celebrities feel forced into something by, well, those you’re saying are lame. They were no more forced into rehab, etc than they were forced to do what they did in the first place.

    Admiring someone is not lame. “Lame” is everything Jesse and Tiger did, and it would be lame to still admire them after what they did.

  • The media is incredibly powerful in its influence on social norms. Don’t believe me? Check out the wannabee rap stars in their millions, all trying to be like their hero.

    Lack of respect for the sanctity of relationships is rife. Watch any video on MTV for example. When a man sings about his love, the video will depict 100 scantily clad women instead of just one woman. What is that all about?

    I think giving so much coverage to a no-good philanderer is part of the problem, frankly. Why not give a lot of coverage to a relationship that is respectful and decent and loving instead? Why not set up some positive role models? Some ideals to aspire to?

    This habit of digging into the dirt and wallowing in it, is just that. Where are the positive role models, please?

  • When I first read this I was going to say that I think fewer people pay attention than you would think – because I don’t have celebrities as heroes when they are on top, so the fall doesn’t mean much to me. Then my son, Sam, was talking to his best friend just a few minutes ago about a game they play and said “One of my characters was named Tiger Woods, but when all that stuff happened I deleted him.” He’s eleven. Point taken.