The year is beginning with what’s becoming a loose custom: a documentary about a distinguished ’90 s athlete that aims to shade in a more total image. This time around, it’s Tiger, a two-part HBO Sports documentary about golf superstar Tiger Woods. Like The Last Dance, which chronicled Michael Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls while assessing his entire profession, Tiger tries to complicate the dominating story of a legend specified by his meteoric rise and similarly steep fall.
Even if you didn’t understand golf, you probably understood about Tiger Woods. If you matured in the ’90 s or early aughts, it was difficult to not understand about the male who brought raucous, Michael Jordan-levels of star to golf– a sport so generally restrained that Adam Sandler had the ability to make a hit funny where the only genuine joke was “what if a golf enthusiast got real pissed off all the time?”
Tiger Woods was a phenomenon. He had the sort of generational skill that becomes synonymous with a sport while at the same time redefining what’s possible– regardless of (or due to the fact that of) the reality he was so various from what came in the past. It also might be why Tiger Woods’ fame as a golf player was similarly matched by his notoriety as chatter fodder, as his addictions and indiscretions accumulated for a fall as ravenously chronicled as his rise.
Throughout the majority of its roughly three-hour runtime, Tiger feels like a Behind the Music special narrowly focused on Tiger’s life: directors Matthew Heineman and Matthew Hamachek are extremely interested in Woods’ early years as a child prodigy and the complex relationship the golf enthusiast had with his controlling dad. It’s against this background that Tiger holds the golfer’s entire career and public life up for analysis: it depicts his unmatched successes as owed in part to the arguably violent upbringing his daddy offered him and his descent into pain reliever dependency and adultery as the response of a male who was lost after his daddy died.
For the a lot of part, Tiger is successful at humanizing the person behind the headlines, even if it operates at an eliminate. Woods himself mostly appears in archival video, with the exception of a brief surprise appearance at the end of the film. His story is mostly informed by the individuals who were around him at the heights of his renown: buddies, competitors, journalists, and lovers form a motley crew of individuals caught up in the cyclone of his fame. It’s a great expedition of the casual dehumanization that’s part and parcel of contemporary star, but at the very same time, the film is so minimal in scope that it can’t rather leave the lurid fascination it’s ostensibly critiquing. This is specifically real in its second part, which veers into sensationalism by dealing with Woods’ sex scandal– the 2nd widest-known thing about him– as a thriller narrative.
Much like The Last Dance, Tiger practically hits the mark. Woods didn’t let anyone get too close to house, which suggests Tiger is missing out on the insight you can get with a strong vital lens.
Athletes produce an excellent measuring stick of our cultural predispositions since their existence tends to raise specific possibly uncomfortable questions: just how much firm do we manage them? How much do we focus on their viewed ethical failings? How much pushback do we offer when they don’t adhere to sports? Race is an inextricable part of these stories, too. Black athletes make millions for executives and captivate fans– which leads both groups to a weird feeling of ownership over them. It manifests as a good-hearted frenzy when they are performing, and it can be terrifyingly hostile when they are not.
For Woods, that sense of public ownership manifested itself in the consistent headings in the early 2000 s about his bad habits. They’re a part of how we tell our pop culture stories, bad-faith arguments that frequently dictate how these stories are framed in our memory.
Yet the first draft of a star story is rarely an accurate one. It’s a handled story, thoroughly orchestrated by press agents and corporate interests. Star power means cash, and cash should be protected– yet star also determines that popular people appear relatable, that the wider public be privy to some elements of their individual lives. And thus, infamy is sticky. If you’re Tiger Woods, the headlines can be difficult to shake.
It’s likewise uncommon that popular culture pays for the well-known a careful reappraisal. Lately, the stars of ’90 s gossip headings are getting a better rap than most, sitting at the confluence of an industry in alarming need of content and an audience starved for new stories about the heroes they grew up with. It’s imperfect, Tiger can serve as a tip that the simple stories aren’t necessarily the ones we ought to be informing. In reality, we should satisfy our heroes– and think of who the bad guys really are, too.