My two favorite scenes from the instant movie classic There Will Be Blood are probably favorites for many moviegoers. Both scenes involve the two main characters: a drunk and an oil magnate (whose mannerisms reminded me of my father when I was growing up), aptly played by Daniel Day-Lewis, and a charlatan preacher played expertly by Paul Dano.
Scene one was the moment that Daniel Day-Lewis’ character forced himself to grovel for the last land tract in a small town in central California as part of an embarrassing baptismal display. In wanting to build a pipeline independent of Standard Oil that linked his oil wells to the Pacific for shipping elsewhere, the character needed the Bandy tract in order to ensure that the pipeline would remain below ground. In the process of begging-as-baptism, Paul Dano’s preacher character practically drowns Day-Lewis in water, slapping him over and over again as hard as he could, no doubt because of an earlier scene, in which the oil magnate beats Dano’s character to a pulp.
Scene two was set some fifteen years later, as the character Daniel played by Day-Lewis exacted his revenge. The now floundering and impoverished Paul brought his preaching ways to the now wallowing millionaire drunkard in hopes that he would throw him a few thousand dollars. Instead, Daniel forces Paul to denounce God, only to then tell him that all the oil that was in Paul’s town — including the oil under the Bandy tract — was gone. “Drainage!” became Day-Lewis vengeful refrain before he clubbed the idiot fraud Paul to death with a bowling pin.
Although there isn’t yet a scene two, millions of us had no choice but to witness scene one of Tiger Woods’ version of There Will Be Blood at his public soul-bearing session. I was stuck at my orthopedist’s office following-up on my high ankle sprain and healing hairline fracture in my fib-tib. I’m a medical miracle, according to my doctor, because I never needed a cast or extensive rehab. Moving on. Sitting in the waiting room with the TV set to CNN’s Headline News as the media frenzy unfolded, I had no choice but to listen to the nutjobs as they spewed their verbal vomit all over my eardrums. Talking about how the public must judge Woods’ speech and behaviors on stage. How the public has been in shock and disappointed over Woods for nearly three months. About how they scooped the fact that the press conference would begin at 11:01:30, and not at 11 am! It was ridiculous, and should give The Daily Show and The Colbert Report much fodder next week.
The public statement itself was as excruciating as inflamed hemorrhoids left too long without treatment. I watched my fellow patients become moved by Woods’ speech, which I found quite fascinating. I listened to the tortured nature of Woods’ voice (I sat in a seat away from the screen, but not the sound, of the TV) as he confessed to things in public that most of us don’t admit to ourselves in private. All I really wanted to know was when Woods planned to return to playing golf. That, in the end, was all the media and public was entitled to know.
As I watched, I couldn’t help but think of that baptismal scene from There Will Be Blood and the sense of utter rage — Eightfold Path believer or not — that Woods likely had to tame in order to give his statement. For nearly three months, his sponsors, media talking heads and fellow golfers have played the roles of shocked public, disappointed fans, disgusted judges and Freudian pop-psychologists in attempting to explain his philandering ways. Twelve weeks of this would make Paul Dano’s character’s slapping around of Daniel Day-Lewis look like me getting into a fist fight with a six-year-old by comparison.
I understand that for his foundation, sponsors and maybe even for his wife, Woods needed to give this speech, to show and speak of his contrition. I still don’t think that it’s anyone’s business, and Woods certainly doesn’t need our forgiveness — we didn’t exchange wedding vows with him, after all. I doubt that a single person bought a Nike golf club or Buick vehicle or enrolled their kid in a Tiger Woods Foundation program thinking, “Gee, that Woods is such a swell guy, he doesn’t cheat on his wife or have any marital or personal problems. That’s why I’m buying his products. That’s why I want my kid to excel academically through his foundation.” I still think that he doesn’t owe the public a darn thing.
Still, after I got into my car and turned on my iPod, I couldn’t help but think how silly I am. Coldplay’s Vida la Vida came on, with the words “I used to rule the world, seas would rise when I gave the word,” almost as if they had written the song about Tiger’s rise and “fall from grace.” From the media’s perspective, I’m sure their favorite refrain would be, “there was never an honest word, but that was when I ruled the world.” That then made me think of Cleveland Cavs guard Delonte West’s troubles with guns and guitar cases and Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead Or Alive,” where they sing, “I walk these streets, a loaded six-string on my back” while riding on a “steel horse.” Or, Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love,” which I’ve turned into “Tainted War” three times in the past thirty years (in ’82, ’91 and ’03), especially with the line, “once Iran to you, now Iraq from you.” You could say I’m a lovable yet lame-ass goofball who has a morbid habit of taking current events and turning them into song.
But rest assured, there will be blood, although not in a literal sense. Woods’ nemesis golfers, his media detractors will all have to eat their words. Sponsors will continue to line up with Woods so that he can hawk their wares. Even TMZ will eventually come groveling, looking for a little financial love, only for Woods to metaphorically yell, “Drainage!” multiple times. It will be glorious!