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HBO's Tiger Woods docuseries falls short, especially when it comes to race

  • While Part 1 of Tiger, premiering Sunday, "concludes with the golfer’s proclamation of being ‘Cablinasian,’ and is consumed by (his dad) Earl’s belief that his son might become a bridge between races, (directors Matthew) Hamachek and (Matthew) Heineman aren’t as concerned with Tiger’s ambivalence with regards to his Blackness," says Robert Daniels. "And though the filmmaker’s spotlight the younger Wood’s rejection of his father’s rainbow coalition dream, and how he only leaned into his Blackness during an advantageous but brazen Nike ad campaign, they don’t approach the subject with the same depth as seen in The Last Dance or OJ: Made in America. Those offered the economic reasons behind MJ and OJ’s apolitical stances. But Tiger brushes past the internal racial conflict the golfer must have felt in the face of his father positioning him as an American racial messiah in lieu of sports highlights. The docuseries is also missing Woods’ contemporaries. The golfer’s mythos hinges on his impenetrable mystique on the golf course, a killer instinct that routinely debilitated his opponents on the final day of any given major. But barring Sir Nick Faldo and Rocco Mediate, who’s his typical hammy self, we have little sense of what made Woods so intimidating. What was his reputation among golfers, not just as an athlete, but as a person? What was it like seeing him go to work at his craft? The filmmakers try to fill these blind spots with revealing interviews from the reporters who covered him. These efforts come up short."


    • If you are looking for a comparison to ESPN’s mega-successful The Last Dance, look elsewhere: "Tiger doesn’t have the close to the scope of The Last Dance, nor the personal insight from the main subject," says Richard Deitsch. "But it travels into the darkest areas of Woods’ story far more than The Last Dance, which was co-produced by Jordan’s Jump 23 company. It is an attempt — and I’d call it a successful one — to offer a psychological portrait of Woods. The film examines the father-son relationship of Earl Woods and Tiger Woods; the infidelities of both father and son; Tiger Woods’ search for his own identity amid those around him creating identities for him; and, of course, an examination of the greatness of Woods as a golfer." Co-director Matthew Hamachek adds: "We very much viewed this as a psychological examination of Tiger and tried to get inside of his head to sort of answer the basic question of who is Tiger Woods? Obviously, we’re not psychologists. We’re filmmakers. I think in that exploration we tried to take you inside the room with Tiger when he was there.”
    • Tiger is mostly old news repackaged as a classic sports redemption story
    • Tiger demonstrates Tiger Woods' boldness and hypocrisy when it comes to race

    TOPICS: Tiger, HBO, Matthew Heineman , Tiger Woods, Documentaries