Tag Archives: Jimmy Swaggart

9 Things I Learned in 2009: Our Weird Love of Celebrity Culture is Fueled by Our Pathetic Lives

Tiger and Elin Woods Family Portrait

First of all, let’s just get this out in the open, is this not the greatest family photo you have ever seen.  Anyway, back to my topic.

Somewhere in the middle of the Tiger Woods scandal, I was reading about what it would take for Tiger to get back on top of not only this golf game but how he could turn Tiger Inc around.  It was based on the idea that Tiger Woods was a really good guy but he was in a bad spot.  If he was just nicer to the fans, nicer to the media, cared more about other golfers, things would turn around for him.

In other words, according to the media, Tiger Woods ignores the fans, barely tolerates the media, doesn’t care about other golfers, and as Deadspin crudely puts it, enjoys the company of women who are provided to him for a price (but let’s not call it what it really is)

No, it’s not exactly prostitution — but these girls are flown in from LA to Vegas for a weekend of all-expenses and free drinks and admission into this world of über-rich sleaziness. If a famous athlete takes an interest, they certainly have the option to do whatever it is they want (no pressure!). So Rachel? She basically got caught in Melbourne on one of her many girl-corralling expeditions for one of her most important clients, which is a crucial part of her job.

Mike Wise of the Washington Post puts Tiger’s issues into perspective here and speaks from his own experiences.

Tiger Woods has an emotional void in his life. This void must be huge. For him to be where he is today, this deep emptiness must have consumed him, must be something he has been living with for a long time. Moreover, he has to live with his emptiness while being fully aware that everyone in the world knows just what a manufactured lie his image has been.

I was listening to the radio when the details of the Chris Brown assault on Rihanna took place.  It was a violent, violent assault and the majority of women who called in said, “I still like him because of how great his music is.”  It didn’t matter that he almost beat Rihanna to death.  It was the same with Michael Jackson and the millions who followed him as a weird kind of role model after the allegations involving him came out.  For millions, as long as you are good at something, the fans will be there as society still prefers the manufactured lie of his image and as soon as he starts to win again, they will follow him like they did before.  If you doubt me, check out exhibit a) Kobe Bryant and to a lesser extent exhibit b) Michael Vick.  Once they started to win, all was forgiven.  For all of the problems that University of Louisville coach Rick Pitino had in the off-season, do you think fans in Louisville care if “coach” gets them into the Big Dance come March.  While I believe in second chances, part of me wonders if society has become the great enablers of those who can run fast, coach, or sing.

Jim Swaggart's confession Winning and success are everything in today’s culture, including the church.  I keep thinking of Jimmy Swaggart not following the Assemblies of God’s recommendations for pastors who morally fail.  The reason why?  His ministry would fall apart if he stepped down.  When it happened the second time, rather than confessing to his congregation, Swaggart told those at Family Worship Center that "The Lord told me it’s flat none of your business."  Years ago a friend told me while his church was going through a moral failure in church leadership, the focus was not so much on the moral failure but what would happen to giving and revenue.  I was critical of the approach at the time but as churches have gotten larger and more expensive to run, they are a lot like Tiger Inc., they are industries onto themselves.  When they fail, they take down a tremendous amount of people and dreams with them.

In the end history shows us that most of these men and women (I’m talk to you Marion Jones) are a lot like Sir Ernest Shackleton or Bobby Fischer.  They are really, really talented at one thing and many of them are train wrecks outside of their chosen profession.  Even if they aren’t train wrecks, they suffer from the same weaknesses that many of us do, sex addictions, financial mistakes, domestic violence, and all sorts of other weaknesses that put clouds over Camelot.

Oddly enough we struggle to accept these realities.  We are a culture desperate for heroes and we place unreachable standards on many of them that we do have.  Barack Obama rallied a nation but even he can’t overcome a hyper partisan Washington, yet pundits wonder where all of the magic went while forgetting that the system is to blame.

Dc I wonder if our search for heroes comes from a time when one person could make a difference. Like when Errol Flynn really could clean up Dodge or when Mr. Smith could make a difference in Washington (which was attacked by the press and the political establishment when it came out).  While I am sure that is a reason, I also think it is because we are a culture of observers.  Why go golfing when I can play Leaderboard Golf (for those geeks out there that just got the C-64 reference, I salute you).  Why do anything anymore when some product will simulate it for you?  As a culture of observers (as opposed to previous generations who were doers), we become obsessed with those who actually can do something cool, make a difference or capture our attention.  I bought Mark a Coby Snapp video camera this year for Christmas.  When we were setting it up, I told him that this means he doesn’t have to watch YouTube videos, he can do something that is worthy of being filmed on YouTube.  The idea is that if he is focused on doing something cool himself, he doesn’t have to waste his life watching someone else do it for him.

I don’t know if Mark will be filming himself racing down a mountain bike trail at breakneck speed or if it will be something else (he went to bed early tonight so he could think about it) but I think it’s a noble goal for us all.

What if spent less time watching television in 2010 and spent more time creating content, spent less time reading celebrity garbage and more time reading original writing and reporting, spent less time playing games and more time outside doing stuff?  Less time caring about what Tiger Woods does and more time on the golf courses ourselves.

I’ll post my goals for 2010 tomorrow.  Think about yours as well.