And I think it might be his religion.
I’m at a bit of a loss to explain this and I don’t think I’m the only one. A couple of years ago, Tom Cruise was the biggest star in the universe. He was so big, even my father had heard of him and he stopped watching movies around the time Sean Connery decided he was too good to guzzle weak martinis on celluloid. Then all of a sudden, out of the blue, he divorced his wife of ten years right when she got pregnant, dated a couple of brunettes, went on Oprah and jumped on a couch to declare his love for the new woman in his life.
Just like that, Tom “Big Fat Movie Star” Cruise turned into Tom “Big Fat Freak” Cruise. I think I got whiplash from the turnaround, it was that sudden. So what happened?
Well, the public, it seems, is a worm and the worm decided to turn. To use another metaphor, celebrity is a deck of cards and sooner or later it collapses. I could make these up all day so I’ll stop. Sorry, Tom. You gave it your best shot. No hard feelings. See ya.
Except that was not how it turned out. Instead of his just fading, fading, fading away, everybody, it seemed, had some sort of Tom Cruise story that they’d been saving up for years and now was the perfect time to speak out. The rumors about his sexuality, the manner in which he divorced Nicole Kidman, his need for attention, his deteriorating box office status (what! MI:3 only made a couple of hundred million when it ought to have made at least a few hundred million? Time to pack those bags, Tom!), everything was fodder for speculation. Then came his marriage to Katie Holmes and the birth of their daughter and the rumor mills went into overdrive.
Fake! Fake! Fake! everyone cried. Katie was a Stepford Wife, Suri was conceived in vitro because Tom was too gay to actually have sex with his wife (and when the news broke that the couple choose to sleep in separate bedrooms…!), it was all a publicity ploy – the list of allegations is endless. It was getting to a point where I was beginning to feel bad for him and you know that’s major because I couldn’t stand Tom Cruise at the height of his stardom, much less when he was plunging to the bottom in a vehicle of his own making.
But all through it all, if there was one thread that popped up again and again to tie all his crazy together, it was his choice of religion. Read through a story, any story about Tom Cruise, and sooner or later the word “Scientology” is sure to pop up, especially of late.
Scientologists argue that they’re being targeted and discriminated against – which is both true and not true.
Scientology’s beliefs, like that of all other religions (and I’m going to say religion here instead of cult, which is what a lot of people classify it as), sound rather peculiar to outsiders. As a fan of science fiction, L. Ron Hubbard was never one of my favorites, but if there exist people in this world who believe he was a Prophet or that his work had much greater meaning than I’ve ever been able to glean – well, good luck to them.
And as far as beliefs go, Scientology doesn’t actually deviate all that much from what major religions believe in. They just use different terms with more modern roots. Scientology looks to the heavens and uses what it knows or rather what L. Ron Hubbard knew about the universe to ground its theory of where we all came from and where we’re headed. Pretty much everybody else looks heavenwards too but most of us follow religions that didn’t know what a man in the mid-20th century knew.
Scientology believes its members are more special than outsiders, homosexuality can be cured, psychiatry is a pseudo science and has a system of rules for its followers as well as an acknowledged leader. Well, so do a lot of people who belong to more mainstream churches.
The one big difference between Scientology and other faiths is that of language. Scientology uses modern, vaguely scientific sounding terms to describe that which has been previously preached in mystical terms. The only way it is scary, is in the way that all religions are scary – it imparts a system not just of belief, but of thought.
One famous example is the BBC reporter who says he was pretty much harassed into losing his temper on camera, which Scientology then turned into a PR exercise (video below) – and the other is Andrew Morton.
Morton, best known for his unauthorized biography of Princess Diana, comes out this month with his unauthorized biography of the most famous Scientologist of them all: Tom Cruise.
According to early reports, his book is where all Tom Cruise gossip went for a bit of R & R. It goes on to record Tom’s recruitment to Scientology, what this means on a daily basis for the actor, the effect this has had on his relationships with his family members including his children, and all the other juicy details you’ve been waiting for – plus, is Suri Cruise born of L. Ron Hubbard’s frozen sperm? Some of it sounds just weird like the info that Scientology chief David Miscavige once got his minions to plant a filed with flowers so Tom and Nicole could run through it. Way to be spontaneously romantic, Tom.
Morton is currently in hiding after coming under attack by Scientologists outraged by this treatment of their favorite son and, in all likelihood, will shortly be the subject of several headlines himself when Camp Cruise sues him to the tune of $100 million. Of course, that’s probably what he’ll make off the first printing.