When the Tiger Woods scandal broke, I wrote about the impact the news would have on the golfer’s brand. Now, Tiger has come out and issued a formal public apology, his first major step towards rebuilding his image.
Personally, I thought it was a great speech. Some critics said he was too controlled, wooden and stilted. Well, I wonder how they would act in the same situation—upbeat? Though Tiger did appear tired, older and a bit uncomfortable, he’s never been known to be an exuberant or excitable person.
I appreciated the fact that he kept stressing that this was a PERSONAL failure and that he took all the blame. I liked that he said the press had lots of questions but that this a private matter between him and his wife Elin. He also defended his wife regarding the rumors that she had hit him on Thanksgiving night, and asked the paparazzi to stop following his wife, mother and young children He said he had always shielded his family from his public life, and I think the media should respect his wishes. I feel he too should be left alone now.
Though I gained respect for Tiger because of his speech, I’m also proud of Elin for not “standing by her man” by attending the speech. I never understood why so many wives feel they have to physically stand by their husband when he makes a public apology for behavior against her. Why put yourself in a position where you are humiliated in front of the world? Hillary Clinton, Eliot Spitzer’s wife Silda, Larry Craig’s wife Suzanne, Jim McGreevey’s now ex-wife Dina… they all stood next to their cheating husbands, as though they too shouldered part of the blame.
Jenny Sanford, the now-estranged wife of Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina was the first woman I can recall who refused to stand by her man when he took off to Argentina with his mistress. That is laudable. I always felt the other wives were begged to be present, to put on a happy public face. I know I wouldn’t. I might forgive my husband in private, but I would not agree to stand in front of the world like that.
Even Kobe Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, was there when he made his public mea culpa, turning up with a huge diamond ring that suggested Kobe had won back her affections—or at least tried to—with jewelry.
This public apology routine is done more so in the US than anywhere in the world. It’s not that American politicians or celebrities are more likely to be unfaithful—ever heard of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi? In Europe, the public more or less leaves the issue alone. Here, we act as the wounded ones, the victims of what are essentially private matters. Take Tiger Woods. He cheated on his wife, but ultimately he broke no law and frankly I don’t see why his dirty laundry should be aired in public. He may an apology to his wife, but not to me.
I have European friends that mock the American interest in mea culpas; to them, it all seems so insincere.
I think this may be symptomatic of the 21st-century trend of oversharing. We air our views all day long on Twitter and Facebook, so much so that it’s rare for there to be any real privacy anymore. Of course, it would be wonderful for these men to be faithful to their wives in the first place, but I can’t help but feel like the situation gets amplified by this new era of public catharsis. I mean, do we really need to know about John Edwards’ paternity tests or sex tapes? No!
What do you think? Do public figures owe us an apology for their indiscretions? Should the media get involved?