06/29/2005: The best analysis I've read on this whole fiasco....
Over at his blog (for indeed, that's what it is) ReelThoughts, James Berardinelli has some interesting things to say about the recent Tom Cruise meltdown (note, Berardinelli is apparently managing ReelThoughts by simply using an HTML editor, and not any sort of blog management software, so no permalink seems possible. Use the drop down listbox at the top to find "June, 2005", and look for the post on the June page dated "June 29, 2005" and titled "Cruise Control" if you want to see the source):
A certain degree of eccentricity is expected from celebrities. After all, considering their offbeat career choices (they spend their time pretending to be someone else) and stratospheric salaries, it's unreasonable to think they'll be "just like everyone else." But, with his much-publicized antics during the past six weeks, Tom Cruise has exceeded the curve. He has gone from being one of War of the Worlds' biggest assets to one of its biggest problems. There are two sayings in Hollywood that almost everyone subscribes to: "No publicity is bad publicity" and "There's no such thing as too much publicity." The Cruise situation may prove both sayings to be apocryphal.Berardinelli then speculates that Cruise's latest antics may torpedo Mission: Impossible 3 (apparently burning in Development Hell even as we speak), and make him seriously unbankable for projects after that. But, given my interest in religious affairs (and Cruise's commitment to Scientology puts this whole dog-and-pony-show into the religion category), I was interested in this comment by Berardinelli:
When Cruise and Katie Holmes made a public spectacle of their whirlwind romance, it was cute but inconsequential. Little did we know, that was only the beginning. Since then, Cruise has entered a scorched earth mode in which he has taken on all comers. Step aside, Oprah! Watch out, Brooke Shields! Heads up, Matt Lauer!
Most people have religious beliefs, so few can criticize Cruise for his, or for professing them publicly. Opinions are one thing (and you know the saying about them...); the problem is, Cruise doesn't have his facts straight, and when he starts mouthing off about "established historical" incidents that are anything but that, one has to begin wondering where he's getting his information from, and why he isn't checking its veracity beforehand. So, as the truth emerges, he comes across looking like a dolt who believes every urban legend he has been exposed to. A few people have called his recent attacks on psychiatry "dangerous." I disagree. Anyone who looks to Tom Cruise for advice about how to handle a psychiatric problem deserves what they get. What those comments are accomplishing, however, is to make him into a laughingstock.
There are similarities between what's happening with Cruise and what happened with Mel Gibson around the time when The Passion of the Christ was released. After all, both situations involve popular movie icons emerging as preachers for a religious cause. But there are differences as well. Gibson may never act in another blockbuster movie, but he has directing to fall back on, and that appears to be what he's interested in doing. Cruise, on the other hand, has never crossed behind the camera (although, like Gibson, he has a successful production company). And Gibson's doctrine represents that of a mainstream religion (albeit a splinter sect)- Catholicism. Scientology, on the other hand, is viewed by many as either a cult or a "fake" religion. Fundamentalist Christians flocked to The Passion of the Christ. Every living Scientologist alive could see a Cruise movie and it wouldn't make a blip at the box office.I'm in a dilemma meself. As a general rule, I don't like putting money into the hands of shills for movements (religious and otherwise) that I don't approve of; that was a factor (but only one) in my decision not to see The Passion of the Christ (though the main factor was Roger Ebert calling it the most violent movie he'd ever seen--remember, ol' Rog has seen movies like both iterations of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as part of his job), and it was a big disincentive to go see Battleground Earth (though, of course, the fact that that one sucked so badly means I'd have never gone to see it even if John Revolta weren't a Scientologist). So right there, War of the Worlds comes with a big black mark against it for me. On the other hand, we're talking a huge, action packed mindless brain-drain summer movie (and I enjoy the hell out of spectaculars like that) that appears to be getting good reviews (in this morning's email from Rotten Tomatoes, the Tomatometer is standing at 91% FRESH--meaning that 91% of the critics that Rotten Tomatoes tracks are giving it good reviews).
So I'll probably go, but I'll probably wince a few times when I see Tom....
Len on 06.29.05 @ 08:41 AM CST