There are a pair of recent covers to magazines I subscribe to with headlines on them that are slightly bothering me. Now, I realize that you're first response may be, "You still read magazines?!?," but that's not really the reaction that I'm going for.
Have a look at them below, and click to open them in a new window if need be to see the portions I've highlighted.
Let's look at The Hollywood Reporter cover first, as it's the one that bothers me least. On it (and in the corresponding article), South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are described as "bad boys," with the usual historical journalistic breakdown of their rise to fame that comes with cover stories. How their typically-described "edgy" short Jesus vs. Santa was a viral sensation in the days before we commonly used the term "viral sensation." How South Park became a hit and the requisite look back at some of their most "controversial" episodes, with taboo topics such as Jesus, Muhammad, Tom Cruise's sexuality, and so on.
The main angle of the article, aside from the "what they've been doing" and "what they're doing now" portions, is that Parker and Stone have matured, have grown out of their rock star days and are now "middle-aged" family men who are surprisingly sweet and tender to be around. However, the chief purpose of the cover story - the reason for its existence - is to serve as an advertisement for their recently-opened Broadway show, The Book of Mormon.
I knew the tone and base story of Mormon prior to seeing the piece, but it was with some pause, then, that I read its description of the show - how it lampoons the Mormon church, touching upon - whaddaya know - taboo topics such as AIDS, religion, U2, and forced female circumcision, amongst other things. In other words, exactly the same style of humor and range of topics as all of their most famous works.
I give you the summary of the article for contextual purposes, but I needn't have read it to have been bothered - it only served to confirm my issue with the headline: What is it about Parker and Stone that make them "bad boys?"
As far as I can tell, not much of anything. Neither is known for habitual drug use. Neither has an arrest record that I can find. Neither is known as a wife beater or anything like that. No, they're bad because they dare to talk about subjects openly and freely that most wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole. How dare they, those naughty boys? I realize that the term "bad boys" is used to pigeonhole Parker and Stone, and also to sell magazines. Everyone in the public eye, particularly in this day and age, must be compartmentalized and labeled with a catchy, easy-to-remember moniker. "Troubled pop star," "comeback kid," "polarizing politician" - all used to reduce complex people to identifiable, broad categories. Fighting the usage of said labels is futile, but can't I at least ask that they get them right?
The Tiger Woods/Esquire headline bothers me more but I can talk less about it, having not read the article itself. But the condescension of the headline is more than enough to warrant comment.
It states, "Hard as it is to say, it's time to forgive Tiger Woods."
It's safe to assume that the piece is about the public forgiving Woods - to allow him back into our hearts and homes, as a golf champion and marketing icon. WTF?! I hate to break this to the writer (or to you, should you feel the same way), but Tiger Woods didn't do a goddamn thing to me, and should be seeking not one iota of forgiveness from me. Now obviously, being a "troubled sports star" such as he is, and having gone through the very public ordeal that he's gone through, many people on his team and in marketing executive positions around the world would say that forgiveness from the public is exactly what he needs.
However true that might be from a dollars and sense perspective, just the thought that Woods needs to be forgiven for his actions really grinds my gears. He didn't cheat on me. He wasn't a potentially bad father to me. He didn't give me an STD (or not). And he didn't to it to you, either, unless you're a member of his family or one of his harem. Something something high-horse something something self-righteous ass. Woods owes the public nothing, and I want nothing from him (other than saving his sport, but there's nothing new about that...).