Words by Zarina Holmes
|Photo by Annie Liebovitz. © Vanity Fair 2010
|"We are used to him all smiling, giving away that perfect-son-in-ironed-flannel-pants image.”
I want to talk about a photograph. An image of Tiger Woods taken by Annie Leibovits gracing the latest Vanity Fair’s front cover for February 2010.
It is not a typical celebrity shot.
It is an unusual portrait of Tiger. He is half naked, holding dumbbells in each hand. His facial expression is steely.
Here he is stripped of his Lacoste shirt and other brand associations.
We are used to him all smiling, giving away that perfect-son-in-ironed-flannel-pants image.
Sensational and a shrewd attempt to sell glossies, some might say. Maybe so.
The readers’ reactions about the chosen image: “A simpering punk”, “Looks like a common thug,” “Doesn’t connect to the camera.”
In short, Vanity Fair and Tiger are not giving the public what they want.
Late last year, Tiger Woods went through a humbling, human experience. Allegations of his infidelities and kinky extra-marital sex exploded into the public.
His popularity rating is now reportedly dropped to 33% (USA Today/Gallup Poll).
Global consulting firm for a perfect world, Accenture, cut sponsorship ties with Tiger on 13th December because the golfer is “no longer the right representative”.
The fact is we are disappointed that Tiger Woods, the most successful golfer of all time, is only human.
It’s in our nature to idolize the perfect ideals outside of our grasps, and Tiger had busted those bubbles.
Image-makers know this. Hence we are fed with projections that reflect our desires away from reality; in fashion magazines, religious paintings and advertising.
For the first time, the media attempted to visually portray Tiger Woods not as a brand, but a person.
Through Leibovitz’s eyes we see a young man in his prime, a husband and father of two at only 33, who had poured his entire childhood and youth into his career.
She presented a fresh point of view. To me, this portraiture is successful.
It’s nice to see that Leibovitz still possess the raw storytelling style from her Rolling Stone days.
Thumbs-up to Vanity Fair editors, for another brave editorial decision.
Vanity Fair won the main World Press Photo Awards in 2008 for their Afghanistan coverage. www.sojournposse.com/review/