Rebuilding Tiger & Toyota

'As the Irish political commentator and cultural critic Fintan O'Toole has pointed out: "Celebrity culture thrives on two qualities. One is a false intimacy -- the belief that a famous person is known to us in the way our friends, family and neighbors might be. The other is blankness -- the celebrity is a screen onto which we can project whatever feelings, thoughts or desires we choose at any given time."

What marketing people like to call "brand loyalty" is the consumer economy's equivalent of the cultural of celebrity. We'd all like to think our material purchases are supremely rational, but the truth is our deep-seated preferences for certain brands are based on considerations beyond the physically qualitative.

Woods' celebrity is based not only on the perfection of his swing, but also on the idea that his modest origins and mixed racial heritage democratized and integrated a sport that hadn't fully shaken the shadows of its historic elitism and exclusionism. To many, Woods -- like President Obama -- stands for the emerging reality of a post-racial America.

- Tim Rutten, 'Tiger and Toyota: rebuilding the brands'.


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