December 8, 2009

Shafting Tiger and Obama: That Sexually-Suggestive Golf Digest Cover

For whatever drama this kicks up post-Tiger hitting the tree, it only gets in the way of how much the cover suggests sexual stereotypes of the African-American male.

(Just to be clear, what you’re looking at is not a picture of TW and BHO but a photo-illustration using body doubles. Also, according to the publisher, the edition went to press November 14th, which was well before Tiger’s Thanksgiving meltdown.)

I don’t think it’s unusual a caddy would be holding the flag in this situation, but look how Tiger’s clasping it — the flag like a very long shaft with that curious tip protruding.

Also, from the way Tiger is bent over Obama and holding his left hand, the designers also set up the suggestion of Tiger giving it to Obama from behind. (The shadow plays on it, too, and the 10 TIPS (italics mine) OBAMA CAN TAKE (italics mine, again) FROM TIGER” also suggests it, as does the “LOAD IT & LET IT GO.” (…Of course, if you’ve been following BAGnews for a while, you know the stereotyping of Obama as a hyper-sexual black man is nothing new — 1, 2, 3).

And then, sex aside, Tiger can be played two different ways as a racial stereotype. The way he kneels and, again, how he holds the pole also resonates with the primitive hunter, the flag connoting a spear (as in “spear chucker,” right?). Finally, with Obama as the first African-American president to have broken into that most elite all-white club, Tiger (in a “don’t get too full of yourself” message, perhaps, from the powers that be) is downgraded from the role of superstar to the old school black caddy.

And then, since I’m not aware Obama and Tiger ever played golf together, what justifies these two superstars juxtaposed in the first place, except maybe … skin color?

(h/t: Miki)

(Photographer: Martin Ellis. Design Director Ken DeLago, Director of Photography Christian Iooss. Fashion Director Marty Hackel)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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