Celebrity scandals, learning and humor

As the Tiger Woods story has unfolded, it has been interesting to notice how different people have come to grips with the all-too human failings of a heroic figure.  It’s not new, nor is it the last time we’ll see someone of Tiger’s stature take a slide.  And it seems that hardly any of us mortals can stay away from the sticky sweet feelings of schadenfreude.

As a society, we’re also at the point in our emotional development that no-one is declaring the end of Wood’s career, or even an expected dent in his endorsement revenues.  This was not the case with Woody Allen — many people are still amazed that he is allowed to continue to make movies.  With David Letterman, there appears to be no economic impact, but it is clear to those who watch Letterman regularly that he is thinking twice and even three times before making a wise crack — mainly noticeable when a guest sets him up with a softball.  He’s working on solid singles these days, trying to avoid saying something embarassing.  (But he’s still the best at the late night gig…)

With Tiger, the crowds will stil be there. I think its mainly the kids who will be confused.  Tiger is such a dominant sports persona, with a name that every age group recognizes.  So parents have yet another teachable moment — an opportunity to talk to their kids honestly about a topic in the news.

I had the Tiger Woods discusion with my son and nephew today.  We talked about the circumstances of the accident and about the different, unproven scenarios that are being discussed.  The conclusions —

1) if you are doing something you might be embarrassed about — don’t do it.

2) if you are doing something you might be embarrassed about — you probably will get the chance to find out just how embarrassed you can be.

3) if you admit your mistakes and keep moving on, eventually you can put the scandal to rest.

Good lessons for 7th graders, High School kids, oh yeah, and celebrities.

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One of the best things I heard or read on the Tiger story came from NPR’s Mike Pesca, a journalist whose opinions on sports and culture I have really come to admire.  Click here to hear the audio from Mike’s piece, “Amateur Comedians Have Field Day With Tiger Woods”.   The story talk about how celebrity scandals are also a great opportunity for amateur and professional humor.  It also traces the first Tiger joke to …wait for it…a Twitter post.  Interesting stuff.

Click here for the written version, but the audio version is much better, and includes a brief interview with legendary Letterman writer Bill Scheft.

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