I forgot to set my coffee maker last night, so I went without my usually necessary cup o' caffeine this morning. But I didn't need it after seeing this:
Tiger Woods' father, Earl, has been dead since May 2006. That's his voice in the commercial, not God's, even though that's what Nike and Tiger would probably like you to believe.
Here's the transcript of what the late Mr. Woods says in the ad:
Tiger, I am more prone to be inquisitive, to promote discussion. I want to find out what your thinking was, I want to find out what your feelings are, and did you learn anything.I don't know what the original context of this quote is, but that doesn't stop Tiger and Nike from re-contextualizing it to fit the golfer's recent controversy. "See," the ad seems to be saying, "even Tiger's dad would find it in his heart to forgive him. Now, please, just carry on and go buy our shoes and clubs."
Earl Woods, of course, had Tiger playing golf when he was a toddler. At age two in 1978, the future superstar appeared on "The Mike Douglas Show" to putt against Bob Hope. Earl coached Tiger as he blossomed from wunderkind to amateur champion to, finally, the world's greatest golfer and its most recognizable athlete. Even as Tiger's career took off, Earl was always there at his son's side.
Now, was Earl a proud, engaged father, or was he golf's version of Mama Rose, always prodding Tiger to "swing out"? Earl, according to various reports, was no angel himself. Did Tiger learn more than golf from his dear old dad? I don't know enough to answer that question, although I have my suspicions. But one thing was always clear from Tiger's point of view, or at least his public one: Earl was his dad, his teacher, his mentor, his best friend, the most important person in his life. He elevated Earl to the pantheon of Great Dads. But now Earl Woods has been reduced to a mere pop-media emblem, a sound bite to restore his son's marketability in the most cynical advertisement in an era of them.
It's become clear that Tiger, in the aftermath of his infidelity imbroglio, has been completely consumed by not by a specific image, but the notion of "image" itself. He's retreated into it, as if it were a cocoon. Now nothing else matters to Tiger; not his privacy, not his family, not his relationship with his dear old dad.
This is the true apotheosis of Tiger Woods, not whatever triumph awaits him at The Masters or any subsequent tournaments. He has shed any trace of humanity from his persona. He has finally -- fully, thoroughly -- completed his transformation into a brand.
And he did it by burying his father in a Nike swoosh.
P.S. Here's a great parody of the ad, courtesy of The Jack Sack:
UPDATE: Well, it appears Nike has hunted down the Jack Sack's parody and stripped it from the Web ... except at Deadspin! You can find Deadspin's compendium of parodies here. The Jack Sack's is #4.