03 December 2009

It's the Money! (part 2)

I don't particularly wish to add to the Tiger Woods commentary pileup, but I do want to comment briefly on some of the media reaction, the better to illuminate the ongoing education such incidents give us about the kind of society we're living in. Amid the by now de rigueur TV discussions of whether the media is giving "too much coverage" to the story, some talking heads have seized on Woods's ubiquitous presence as a pitchman for everyone from Nike to Buick as somehow justifying what might otherwise be considered unwarranted intrusions into his personal life. Apparently, endorsement deals, which I had previously conceived as merely a contractual relationship between an endorser and a corporation, also create an implied contract with the public. So the upshot, I guess, is that anyone who's ever seen a Tiger Woods commercial is entitled to some small sense of grievance regarding his recent "transgressions."

Now there's an obviously self-serving element to this, with members of the media, some of whom must surely be aware that 90% (I'm feeling generous today) of what they do has no social value whatsoever, eager to defend their role in fanning the flames of this story. But what's more interesting is the implied notion that the act of endorsing a product is some kind of sacred trust that transcends the right to privacy—and presumably other rights as well.

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