Success & Scandal Confounded Into One Image : Tiger Woods in Vanity Fair

January 6, 2010

The Tiger Woods scandal was totally uninteresting to me, until I saw the February cover of Vanity Fair featuring a rarely seen Mr. Woods:  shirtless and void of expression.

Tiger Woods - Successful or Scandalous

Tiger Woods - Successful & Scandalous

It struck me because, is he really expressionless in the photo? We tend to think that in the absence of a smile, or frown, expression itself is missing. But this photo has Tiger speaking volumes.

In fact, his face is far from neutral, it’s scowling at us. Shot by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz, Tiger doesn’t perform for an audience here. There’s no glassy eyed, glossy smile from the pleasant green of a Southern Californian golf course. Rather, he leers directly at us, confronting our gaze, unashamed. His eyebrows ever so slightly, but certainly shifted down furrowed above his eyes and his face, contorted just enough so that creases on his cheeks accentuate a deep scowl. The predominant shades of blue and grey and his forceful grip on weights in the foreground don’t help. It’s a cold, cold image.

Apparently the photo was shot before the scandal broke and what’s fascinating is had it been published prior to his exploits being made public, it would have spoken of a vastly different man. Tiger Woods would be the unequivocally flawless and justifiably successful, quintessential man. The picture would ooze strength, determination, drive and hard earned triumph. He’d actually look valiant.

Unfortunately for Tiger though, context crafts perception and since this is published post leakage of his misdeeds, I doubt the Vanity Fair cover will trigger sympathy. It will only add to his infamy.



  1. Hey, have not checked in with you in a while. Tiger will remain the butt of all jokes lurid, until he takes the tee box in April at Masters and pins that drive 350 yards down the fairway. Just at that moment, all will be forgiven. With due apologies to Brit “I am a christian and so r u” Hume, that is all the act of contrition I need from him if that counts for anything.


  2. A good prediction Shahab. I think you’re right: When he picks up the clubs again, genius on the green will overshadow exploits off the green for the publics mind.

    I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again: time heals anything 😉


  3. The fashion is thatnow a particular kiond of pliable “BLACK is BEAUTYYYFUL”.
    USA is a long away from Equal Opportunity based on merit.

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  4. The problem is that we forget that PUBLIC HEROES are afterall humans. One odd scandal shouldn’t overshadow his SUPERHUMAN achievements.Tiger Woods is a larger than life character n will remain so no matter how many times he errs. It’s our desire that the people we like should appear to be angels__ letz not forget we r human beings n so is Mr Tiger Woods. However he is more equal among equals.


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