Tiger Woods’ fall from grace has certainly been mercurial. Since the post-Thanksgiving revelations that the golf phenom (listed as one of B.E.’s Top 50 Most Powerful African American in Sports in 2005) is a serial philanderer, he has lost millions of dollars in endorsement deals and taken an “indefinite break” from golf.
And now the golden boy is gracing the cover of next month’s issue of Vanity Fair magazine looking like a thug in a revealing image captured by photographer Annie Leibovitz. Gone is the image of the refined, straight-laced Woods, replaced by perhaps his true inner (stereotypical) self?
Last month, the majority of respondents in a Black Enterprise poll said they wouldn’t let the controversy influence the Woods-endorsed products they buy, but after seeing this image that could change.
Back in 1994, Time magazine also portrayed a heralded African American sports star in a harsh light. For its June 27, 1994, cover, the magazine’s editors digitally darkened O.J. Simpson’s mugshot to make him appear as a sinister, menacing black man. Time was forced to apologize for the manipulation after Newsweek published the same unaltered photo on its cover.
My question to you is this: was Vanity Fair fair in its portrayal of Woods, or did the magazine go too far by portraying him as someone who might be more comfortable in the prison yard than at the Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club?
Deborah Creighton Skinner is the editorial director of BlackEnteprise.com.