CNN Senior Executive Producer
The Tiger Woods story has triggered a memory that led me to two old photos. One photo is real. One is doctored.
The Book of Laughter & Forgetting Tiger
I read about the photos 30 years ago in the Czech author Milan Kundera’s “The Book of Laughter and Forgetting.”
The original photo, on the left, was taken in February of 1948.
In Kundera’s account, this moment represented the birth of communism in Czechoslovakia.
The Czech Communist leader, Klement Gottwald, [the man on the right of the photo] had just stepped out on the balcony of a Baroque palace in Prague, before “hundreds of thousands of citizens massed in the Old Town Square. Gottwald was flanked by his comrades, with (Vladimir) Clementis [two faces to the left] standing close to him. It was snowing and cold, and Gottwald was bearheaded.”
“Bursting with solicitude, Clementis took off his fur hat and set it on Gottwald’s head.”
So, that fur hat you see on Gottwald’s head was given to him by comrade Clementis, who sacrificed his own warmth for his comrade’s.
That gesture of communist solidarity caught the attention of the Communist Party propaganda machine.
They “made hundreds of thousands of copies of the photograph taken on the balcony, where Gottwald, in a fur hat and surrounded by his comrades, spoke to the people.
Every child knew that photograph, from seeing it on posters and in schoolbooks and museums.
Four years later, Clementis was charged with treason and hanged.
The propaganda section immediately made him vanish from history and, of course, from all photographs.
Ever since, Gottwald has been alone on the balcony. Where Clementis stood, there is only the bare palace wall.
Nothing remains of Clementis but the fur hat on Gottwald’s head."
The doctored photo on the right is all that remained – until the age of the internet brought back the original.
Those photos make me think of Tiger.
Tiger Woods’ acknowledgment of “transgressions,” has spurred a similar reaction to his omnipresent images from some free enterprise business comrades.
The huge consulting firm Accenture has treated Tiger the way so many felt: as if he’d committed treason against the brand. It dropped its sponsorship of Woods, saying he “just wasn’t a metaphor for high performance anymore.”
The New York Times describes how, “hours after Accenture ended its sponsorship deal, the golfer’s face was replaced by an anonymous skier on the company’s home page. His name was scrubbed almost completely from the rest of the web site.”
But images of Tiger endorsing the Accenture brand survive. So many airport terminals. So many corporate tchotchkes. So many web sites. It’s harder to make people disappear in the age of the internet than it was back in the 20th Century.
Tiger on Newsstands Today
I just picked up the Golf Digest January 2010 cover story headlined “10 Tips Obama Can Take From Tiger” (pre disclosure.) The issue is irresistible.
And Tiger’s words in that issue before his transgressions were acknowledged, are extremely valuable lessons for a large segment of the population. His advice in that piece convinces me that Tiger Woods will never be out of the picture. Here’s a brief excerpt.
(Editor’s note: please resist the urge to read double meanings into every sentence that follows.)
“AS a result of recent swing changes, it’s easier for me to shape tee shots, even my natural draw. I’m letting the club release along the line of my setup instead of muscling the ball with my upper body, which I did at times when my bad knee prevented a good shift into impact.”
“At the tour level you have to be able to hit different sand shots, because the bunkers are so varied and a stroke saved can make all the difference.” (please! You weren’t paying attention to the editor’s note on that last phrase.) “To hit a longer bunker shot, I rotate my body faster to the finish.”
OK – enough.
The point is this.
If you’re serious about golfing, you’ll want to see and hear from Tiger again.
Closeup shots of his back swing. And his short game. And his putts. And his body alignments.
Even if you’re not a golfer, you’ll probably want to hear from him. Golf is a mind game. And who’s not rightfully curious about whether he’ll get his mind back in the game.
Tiger Woods’ each individual twist and turn is not of great consequence.
But the universally fascinating question, in his tragic fall, is this.
Will Tiger be back in the picture again?
I think the answer is this.
Tiger Woods will be back in the picture if Tiger Woods chooses to be back in the picture.
But I don’t expect we’ll ever see the same image.
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