THE ONLY surprising thing about the Tiger Woods story is that anyone finds it surprising. Guess what? People surrounded their entire lives by sycophants and flatterers, who become obscenely wealthy before they've emerged from adolescence (if they ever emerge from it), whose subsequent power creates a consequence-free environment, tend to lose their sense of perspective.
They think they can have whatever they want, because generally they can. And given the opportunity, rich and powerful men will often leverage their power for sexual favours. To whom is this news?
For many children, their first full sentence is: "I want that." It's a primal impulse, more basic than sex: our first instinct is to take what we want. Only through patient teaching and painful socialisation do we eventually accept that we can't always have it. But people who are given whatever they want soon develop a sense of entitlement, and rapidly lose their sense of proportion.
Tiger Woods may not have believed his own hype, but he seems to have believed one of his slogans: Just Do It. Tiger just did it - and it is beginning to look as if the only person in Woods's life who ever said no to him was his wife, Elin - and allegedly punctuated her opposition with a golf club. That's what you call setting limits.
Increasingly American commentators are suggesting that there is a racial element to the media's fascination with the Woods story, arguing that the subtext is that of a previously well-behaved black athlete turning into an unruly sexual predator of blonde women. But let's bear Occam's razor in mind, and ask whether we need a more elaborate explanation for our fascination than the fact that a carefully constructed faade of perfection has come crashing down before our eyes.
It is no coincidence that Woods was encouraged - if not forced - to create that faade by his corporate sponsors, who represent the public to whom they were selling the image of Woods as moral exemplar. This is the logic of celebrity endorsement, that we buy the commodities they flog because we aspire to be more like them. If they aren't aspirational figures, their value plummets. Woods's marriage was part of his brand.
We want to believe that there is something immanent, categorically different about our heroes; we use religious words like icon, god, worship, and aura to describe them because we admire mystique. …