"I'm asked why people don't often see me and Elin in gossip magazines or tabloids. I think we've avoided a lot of media attention because we're kind of boring." Tiger Woods (pre car accident) "We felt if (Fatal Attraction) was to be successful it had to be about anybody sitting in the audience. It had to be about you." Stanley Jaffe, producer
On Friday I was looking for a movie to go see and came across this synopsis of Wes Anderson’s new film The Fantastic Mr. Fox;
“After 12 years of bucolic bliss, Mr. Fox (George Clooney) breaks a promise to his wife (Meryl Streep) and raids the farms of their human neighbors, Boggis, Bunce and Bean. Giving in to his animal instincts endangers not only his marriage but also the lives of his family and their animal friends. When the farmers force Mr. Fox and company deep underground, he has to resort to his natural craftiness to rise above the opposition.”
Uh…speaking of animals and movies, I don’t know if Tiger Woods has ever met Glenn Close. I’m guessing not because if she was ever a cocktail waitress before her acting career took off it was before Tiger was born. And I’m guessing he never saw her Oscar-nominated role as Alex in Fatal Attraction. He was only 12 when the film first came out in 1987 and he’s probably been too busy to catch up on old films.
But Fatal Attraction has to be one of the most powerful and memorable films that deals with adultery. And the competition is strong. (The Scarlet Letter, Citizen Kane, Doctor Zhivago, The Bridges of Madison County, Jungle Fever, The Graduate, Blue Sky, The End of the Affair, The Apartment, Election, Unfaithful, Indecent Proposal, Death of a Salesman, American Beauty and ever other Woody Allen film are part of the string of films with adultery in the storyline.)
“Saul Bellow once compared a novel without adultery to ‘a circus without elephants.’”
Jody W. Pennington
The History of Sex in American Film
Since films center around conflict it should be no surprise that conflict among marital relationships are a common theme to wrestle with. Hitting a tree with your car at 30 mph is conflict, having an affair is meaningful conflict.
It’s interesting to note that though Hollywood is not the most pro-marriage place in the United States most of the films that deal with adultery put it in a negative light (except for The Bridges of Madison County and every Woody Allen film that deals with adultery). That is films often show the consequences of cheating on a spouse.
And whatever Tiger did it appears he also looks at adultery in a negative light. In his statement he used words like “values,” “far short of perfect,” “personal sins” “personal failings” and “transgressions.” It was reported that the most searched word on the Internet (according to Google Trends) the day Tiger gave his press conference was the word “transgression(s)”
I spent many years producing and directing videos for theologian Dr. R.C. Sproul so I know a lot of 25 cent words and didn’t need to take time to look that up. Just hearing the word transgression brings up in my mind the well-known passage in Isaiah (“He was wounded for our transgressions.”) as well as the old Westminster Shorter Catechism Question Number 14. What is sin? Answer: Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.
Sproul, by the way, is the only contemporary theologian I know who has ever been quoted in a vampire film. In the Abel Ferrara directed film The Addiction written by Nicholas St. John, the Annabella Sciorra character says, “Now, R.C. Sproul said we’re not sinners because we sin, but we sin because we are sinners.” (The film also stars Christopher Walken and Lili Taylor.)
We sin because we’re sinners is as good an explanation as any for Norman Bates (Pyscho), Annie Wilkes (Misery), Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver) as well as real life characters Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini. As well as our own shortcomings. Tiger is not the only non-perfect human being and the bible does say, “We all stumble in many ways.” (James 3:2) Or as speaker/author/radio host Steve Brown is fond of telling audiences, “Everyone in this room has at least one sin that if was made public would crawl out of here on their hands and knees.”
I think that the role drama has played for a couple thousand years is to show people struggle with life. Good old good versus evil stuff. Sometimes drama is inspirational and sometimes it offers a cautionary tale.
When we hear the word adultery, even for the non-religious, it tends to make us think of one of the ten commandments: ”Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery” (Exodus 20:14) Which is a long way from a billboard ad I once saw for the TV show Melrose Place proclaiming; “Loving thy neighbor is cool.”
There aren’t too many people that say adultery is a good thing for marriages, families and society (though some do) and we can look back over the last several thousand years and see successful men and women in every arena of life (politics, education, business, athletics, entertainment, religion, etc.) get tangled up in the web of adultery. Often painfully and publicly tangled up.
Which brings us back to Tiger and Glenn Close. If “stories are equipment for living” as Edmund Burke wrote then I think Fatal Attraction shows us brilliantly the extremes of a cause and effect of an affair. Tomorrow we’ll look at one key scene from James Dearden’s Fatal Attraction script.
The film that Michael Douglas would later reflect back on the success of the film saying, “It hit a nerve around the world as a ‘what if?’ type scenario.” Fatal Attraction producer Stanely Jaffe added, “I think the world was ready for someone to examine the way we were living our lives.”
As Tiger has said he is examining his life. And don’t you think that husbands and wives around the world are examining text messages more closely? And perhaps some are examining where they store their golf clubs.