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PREACH IT! Hey Tiger? Gonna take a Big Bertha to your plea for privacy

December 1, 2009 |  9:20 am
Waiting
Let’s recap the Tiger Woods scenario for those following at home, shall we?

Tiger comes tooling out of his driveway in his golf-hero-mobile early Friday and double-bogeys a fire hydrant and a tree. Tiger is apparently hurt. Tiger is down. Something must be done. Elin Nordegren, being a proper golf wife, uses a club on the crashed car. She claims she acted to free her man from danger -- not, as some reports have indicated, to punish her husband for allegedly dipping his pitching wedge into another lady’s sand trap.

What happens next? Tiger manages to say a whole lot of nothing to the public -- who paid for that visit from the cops, by the way -- and instead trots out a trope as old as St. Andrews itself.

“My family and I deserve some privacy,” he intoned on his official site, “no matter how intrusive some people can be.”

One day maybe I actually will violate Tiger’s privacy and attempt to blog about him from a tree under his front lawn while reciting his Social Security number at full volume. Until then, the time-worn request for privacy, that ancient, sanctimonious, self-pitying celebrity tactic, may deserve a closer look.

(Sorry, Tiger, but I may have to violate your privacy to figure out what you and all your famous friends mean whenever you ask for privacy.)

Trucks Stars use the phrase all the time. Christian Bale used it after a reported scrum with his family. Farrah Fawcett had the chutzpah to ask the public for privacy during her cancer treatment, and then filmed a documentary about her dying days.

But when it comes right down to it, the actual privacy demand makes little to no sense. The media -- or at least most of us -- aren’t exactly breaching Tiger Woods' property line or breaking into his house asking for an interview. In the world of celebrity news, most reporters don’t ever directly call a star, or his or her family. (Most stars' relatives are sharp enough to get private numbers as soon as their kin’s star starts to rise.) Even Tiger’s close friends are tough to reach for most gossip reporters. Instead, most reporters are left with the publicist, whose whole job is to serve as a buffer between a celebrity and the rest of us.

Hey Tiger? Can I call your publicist, or does there need to be a few more people between you and me before I’m deemed respectful enough of your privacy?

Reporters who do approach Tiger in person usually do so outside his property line, on the street or in some other public or semi-public space, such as at a golf tournament or charity event. The reporter or paparazzo shouts questions, the star doesn’t answer and the world keeps on spinning.

Photos In my time as a tabloid reporter, the closest that I or my colleagues usually got to a star’s private space was the curb, and that was only if the star’s bodyguards weren’t feeling violent that day. True, the words being uttered unto Tiger out in the open usually travel through the public space and then enter the intimate realm of the athlete’s inner ear, so the golfer may have a point there about privacy. I have a call in to a bioethicist on that one.

Of course the examples I’m giving here are ridiculous, and they’re meant to be. A star knows how celebrity reporting works and how feverishly protected a star is from most reporters, both physically and otherwise. So there’s really only one other meaning we can glean from a star’s demand for privacy -- or, more likely, "privacy during this difficult time."

The star wants us to shut up. Shut up, and stop saying mean stuff Tiger doesn’t like and can’t control.

As powerful as stars are, most of them still can’t stand that little people like me are talking about them, discussing the latest developments about them, theorizing about them. And we gossip reporters are the ones who are supposed to get a life.

Hey Tiger? Please stop trying to interfere in my conversations with my readers. It’s rude. And it’s also pretty disrespectful of my privacy.

-- Leslie Gornstein

Photos: The media are across the street from Tiger Woods' gated community! They've got big scary trucks out on the public roadway! And hey, what about the perfectly nice couple, without any press passes at all, taking snapshots from outside the Isleworth gate? Sorry Tiger -- we think your privacy ship sailed well before your winnings hit the $1 billion mark. Credit: Gerardo Mora / Getty Images.

The Ministry of Gossip's got a Tiger in its tank, so keep reading:

PREACH IT! And Leslie Looked Upon the Ministry Readers, and She Saw That She Was Good (an introduction to Ms. Gornstein and her mission)

'Overwhelmed' Rachel Uchitel hires celebrity attorney Gloria Allred

Tiger Woods' charmed life may be feeling the squeeze

Tiger Woods says 'all my fault,' praises wife, hires attorney

Tiger Woods, his wife, that odd little car accident -- and Rachel Uchitel

Tiger Woods slightly injured in accident near his home

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