Sunday, April 11, 2010

When the gods come down from Mount Olympus,

they end up in People, Us, Star, and Entertainment Weekly.

Tiger Woods is playing the Masters Golf Tournament right now. I would personally rather watch paint dry than watch golf, so Mr. Woods' latest adventures are not of real interest to me. But his Nike rehabilitation is genius. Not Tiger's genius: Nike's genius. Straight out of the psyche and right into our hearts and minds.

Jungian Shrink-ology
There are two kinds of male gods on Mount Olympus. Three of them are father gods, mature men: Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. You will note that Poseidon and Hades don't really visit Olympus much. They prefer their own home and rule their own realm. How many alpha-alphas in the castle? Answer: only one. One big one.

Then there are the sons: Apollo, the scholar, athlete, poet, musician, and knower of secrets, e.g. intelligence-gathering. This is the son of whom Zeus was proud. The rest of them he had less-important or more-conflicted relationships with: Haephaestus, that knows how to do everything mechanical but not how to beguile a woman. Dionysos, who knows how to party, let loose, destroy. And Ares, the warrior, irresistible to women, with two good arenas but maybe not a lot of versatility.

Tiger Woods has always been Apollo: the golden one, loved by his father, disciplined, self-contained, intelligent, a star athlete. His swing is 'poetry in motion'. And all that.

But the recent scandal has him cast as Zeus the philanderer, transforming himself into unrecognizable shapes to attract the world's nymphs and babes. His wife certainly has the Hera role. The wife of Zeus always cries alone, and then sets out to wreak vengeance. Generally she does this through intermediaries, such as monsters, tittle-tattlers, escalators. You know: the press and public opinion.

But then the ad casts Tiger as a son again. He looks a little like a scolded boy, except neatly dressed in Nike clothes, listening to his father's highly moral words. Those words are all about forgiveness and lessons learned--Christian words. He's still stoic, still self-contained, which works for both paradigms.

Yet it's mostly mythic. Tiger is still a knower of secrets, an athlete. It casts him as Apollo in a black and white world. Apollo is the god of the sun. Do you see how colorless the world is when Apollo must hide his light, go into seclusion, accept judgement? Wow. They couldn't have done any better.

Nike is named for Nike Apteros, another name for Athena, the woman-child of Zeus' brain. She was a maker of war, a weaver, poet, strategist, the goddess of female intelligence.  She is not Apollo's twin--she is Apollo's match.

It's almost as if Zeus asked his favorite daughter to rehabilitate his favorite son. And being the efficient goddess she is, she wove a powerful tapestry that works for our pagan and Christian moral sensibilities, casting a King of the Golf World, a Zeus of the player's circuit, back into the position of everyone's favorite, the Apollo of the fairways.

Unbelievably adroit. I see it with my own eyes. They are going to pull it off.

This essay was inspired by the comment discussion from this post at The Things Worth Believing In.
For the archetypes, Jean Shimoda Bolen, Gods in Everyman, a book I read a long time ago.


Unknown said...

I've avoided comment on anything Tiger lately (actually since the story broke), be it blogs, FB or anything. My opinion is not the norm. I could care less what he did. Was it wrong?? IMO, yes, but is it my business?? No.

I watch golf. Never watched it prior to the Tigers emergence on the PGA scene years ago. The ONLY reason I watch golf is because Tiger makes it amazing to watch. I appreciate true god given athletic talent if you will. And that boy has it. Ask me how much golf I watched since he's been gone?? yup, zero. Ask me if I'd have watched the Master for the last 3 days if he wasnt playing?? Nope.

Not really commentary on your post but I did like the commercial and as usual you told me why I liked it! ;)

Ann T. said...

Dear peedee,
Actually your comment dovetails really well! He brings life into the golf-spectator experience which has been sadly missing, the 'color' even. It just underscores that choice of black and white video.

Really cool. Thank you!
Ann T.

Linnnn said...

Waking up this morning to see the real winner of the Masters, Phil Mikelson, hugging his ailing wife, with whom he has stuck through some of the most terrifying times, was a balm to the hurt Woods dealt to the game/national psyche. But generally I am with Ms. P. above.

Bob G. said...

SO the MASTERS tourney and the release of the movie (remake of) CLASH OF THE TITANS was NOT just a "coincidence" after all, eh?

I suspected as much...LOL.

Goes to show you can have a great "professional" career with a personal life that's a train wreck...and vice versa.


Ann T. said...

Dear Linnnn,
Yes, I can see how that would be true, a reminder of a decent person who stuck. Glamor, like the Greek gods, has nothing to do with morals, but we still have them.

Thanks for a good comment!
Ann T.

Ann T. said...

Dear Bob,
Yeah, those train wrecks . . . the problem with celebrity is that they intertwine the job with the personal, and make them seem like the same thing.

That is also a clarifying thing to remember, thank you for that!

Ann T.

meleah rebeccah said...

Much like Peedee, The ONLY reason I watch golf is because Tiger makes it amazing to watch. However, I think he is a complete jack-ass for what he did to his wife.

Ann T. said...

Dear meleah,
The Greek gods never had to worry about HIV. He's an ass for the betrayals, the disloyalty, and the physical risk he brought to her.

Absolutely jackass, at least for #3,
Ann T.

The Observer said...

Ann T:
Well, I did comment on Tiger, but it's over in the sports blog, where, frankly, it belongs. It's labeled GOLF.

He has done his public penance, at least twice over. I thought he should have come back sooner, put everyone's mind back on what an insanely good golfer he is, but the Masters may have been the perfect place for him to come to for his first tournament, it being such a controlled place.

There is always going to be a tension between athletes as heroes and role models and athletes as the just sinful human folk that they are. I think that athletes have always carried this role model burden, but it's much harder to be a god if you're being watched 24/7/365. Also, sport writers are not buddy-buddy with athletes any more, as they were in the days when athletes and writers would sit for hours together on the same train or bus.

Finally, the ad, which I refuse to watch. It's completely made up, of cut up pieces of dad talking about something completely different. It works for exactly the reasons you describe so well.

I'm glad Tiger's back golfing, and while he didn't win, he has not lost that prodigious talent. As for his personal life issues: this is done. I will not monitor for Tiger Bimbo Eruptions. I wish for him a life of sanity and happiness. It is however, his choices that will make his life happy. Or not happy.

Sorry for goingonandon.
The Observer

Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
You can just go onandonandon any time. Especially when you bring in so much good background!

Thanks for thinking it through over here,
Ann T.

Christopher said...

Love the insight and the clever analogy. Brilliant.

Ann T. said...

Dear Christopher,
I am glad you enjoyed! Thanks for stopping by.
Ann T.