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Published: Friday, 12/11/2009

Adam Lambert and Tiger Woods: What were you thinking?

Welcome to the Blade blog Culture Shock, a three-times-a-week riff by Pop Culture Editor Kirk Baird on pop culture news, events, and trends. The blog will appear Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings here, with the odd night or off-day posting if something is merited.

So, Adam Lambert decides to push the conservative buttons of middle America with his racy performance Sunday night at the American Music Awards. It worked for Madonna. It worked for Britney. So, why shouldn't it work for him?

I get that. The American Idol runner-up (and, let's not kid ourselves, the clear winner of last season) was looking for some quick buzz to help push sales of his new CD, "For Your Entertainment."

But Lambert doesn't have to worry about selling CDs. He's a hot commodity riding high on the post-Idol wave. His disc had a great debut -- 198,000, good enough for No. 3 on Billboard's charts. He doesn't need to court controversy to get people to buy his music. That's for aging music stars or for those trying to find ways to mask their lack of singing talent. Lambert doesn't fit into either category.

And look at Billboard's No. 1 seller this week, Susan Boyle, who has the biggest debut of the year. Since being discovered last spring on Britain's Got Talent, Boyle's only controversy has been her makeover. Given her popularity, expect to see Boyle everywhere.

As for Lambert, the singer with the pipes of Freddie Mercury, and the glam of David Bowie circa Ziggy Stardust has been all but banned by the Alphabet Network. No Good Morning America. No Jimmy Kimmel Live. No New Year's Rockin' Eve. Those were three great network promotional opportunities he missed out on. Instead, he'll be playing defense during appearances on NBC's floundering The Jay Leno Show on Dec 21, and in Barbara Walters' upcoming special Most Fascinating People of 2009 on ABC, sharing screen time with, among others, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Kate Gosselin, and Michael Jackson's kids.

Lambert is a true talent and, frankly, his energy, enthusiasm, and sky's-the-limit ability is what pop music needs right now. There's nobody else like him. So, don't be like everybody else with the cheap marketing stunts. You're better than that.

As soon as I heard the news about Tiger Woods' car accident, I knew something was amiss. If he wasn't under the influence, then how do you explain smashing into a fire hydrant and moments later a tree while backing out of a driveway? I don't care if it was in the dark hours of the early morning, accidents like that don't happen. And certainly not to a golfer known for his nerves of steel during the pressure-packed moments of match play.

As it turns out, I think I was right. Most likely Woods got into an argument about his now-confessed "transgressions" with his wife, and left the house flustered, angry, and a bit dazed, I'm sure. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, as Woods probably learned firsthand.

What Woods did was ... well, it was stupid. It was morally wrong and d-u-m-b.

But it's the kind of thing someone like Woods does when all the money and fame he has clouds his thinking. Athletes, celebrities, politicians, when insulated from the world, tend to make poor choices in their personal lives, and then they're shocked by the follow-up negative coverage they receive.

One thing about athletes, celebs and politicians, they love the media as a marketing tool to promote themselves and their pet causes. But when they screw up and the media is there to report it, well, the tone quickly changes to disdain.

I will say this ... I heard a rumor about Woods years ago -- several years before he was married -- from a reliable source who indicated Woods' father kept his son in line and was very controlling.

I have no way to know if this is true or not.

If it is, though, perhaps Woods resented having no freedom, and when given the opportunity to roam after his father died in 2006, took full advantage of it -- not unlike a college freshman away from home for the first time who parties till he flunks out of school, after living a sheltered, tightly controlled life with his parents for years.

It makes sense.

Personally, I hope Woods and Elin Nordegren, who just celebrated five years as husband and wife, get counseling and can salvage their marriage. Divorce, while necessary in some cases, is not always the best solution to marital woes. That will depend on Woods and Nordegren. Perhaps even sponsors like Nike, Gillette, and AT&T, which you cynically wonder have any say in all this, considering Woods is the first athlete to earn a billion dollars, the bulk of that from collective corporate pockets.

If that sounds crazy, consider this rumor at the Daily Beast that Woods made an offer to Nordegren to stick around for another seven years to give him time to rebuild his image as a family man, which will make his sponsors happy. Then the couple will split, and she will receive a hefty payment -- as high as $75 million -- for her troubles.

That's pure tabloid-blog rumor, at this point. I suppose we'll find out its veracity in seven years.

Baseball writers love to write about big-money stars, and what their mind-boggling salaries break down to per swing, home run, or strikeout, e.g. $10,000 per swing, $1.2 million per home run, etc.

I wonder what Woods' dalliances will cost him monetarily, mentally, and in the eyes of his family and fans. And then I wonder if it was really worth it.

Agree or disagree with a posting? Lemme know. Have a topic or suggestion? Lemme know that, too. Send an e-mail to kbaird@theblade.com or call 419-724-6734.

LINK: For all of Kirk Baird's Culture Shock riffs



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