SF Gate: The Great Tom Cruise Backlash
(Frothering Scientology Nutball)


Scientology's doublecross

SF Gate: The Great Tom Cruise Backlash (Frothering Scientology Nutball)


The Great Tom Cruise Backlash

Will this annoying phase pass, or will Tom become the next super-rich, Mel Gibson-like nutball?

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist

Let it begin now. Let it start with a wry askance glance and evolve into full-fledged annoyance and then move into raging hell-bent OK that's quite enough now please stop before we slap you silly.

Note to Tom Cruise: You are maxing out. Wearing out the welcome. Becoming less the tolerable and moderately talented and mildly likable megastar and more like an itchy boil on the deranged ferret of popular culture, requiring lancing.

The signs are all in place. The crazy ranting, the jumping on couches, the crazed grins, the enormous piles of money, the incessant photos of you sucking the face off your new and bewildered and child-like fiancee, the weird diatribes about psychiatry and mental health, the relatively common knowledge that you are super-seriously involved at the highest levels with one of the creepier money-hungry pseudo-religions in the nation.

Also: the assigning of a "handler" from said cult to tag along with your new bewildered young fiancee everywhere she goes to "keep her on the path" and make sure she doesn't, I don't know what. Talk about the nightmares? Break down in a heap and confess that it's all a staged setup? Reveal your true lizard identity?

Yes, Tom Cruise is getting weirder, more annoying than ever. Or maybe he was already deeply weird and we just didn't know it because he was famously tight-lipped in interviews and was never much of a deep thinker and wasn't all that articulate and no one really paid much attention because, well, who really cares?

But now, oh, Tom is opening up. Tom is speaking extemporaneously on talk shows and in interviews about life and love and Scientology, free of the careful grooming and aggressive protection of his former publicist, and while he's still not all that interesting, he is indeed letting his true colors beam right through and those colors are sort of a strange reddish brown with lots of unbecoming blue polka dots and weird slashes of hot pink all overarched by a vague hint of a rainbow flag waving just overhead.

There are rumors, and they are all juicy and fun. Rumors that Cruise "interviewed" numerous young actresses to play the part of his fiancee so as to crank the Scientology awareness quotient and downplay the gay rumors. Rumors of Katie Holmes being essentially trained by the "church" to forgo her former self. Rumors that Holmes essentially vanished for 16 days just before emerging with Cruise on her arm and a hundred million more dollars in her future and a new, decidedly odd Scientology gleam/haze over her eyes.

Aren't rumors fun? Totally silly? But somehow, in the age of Bush and bogus wars and massive, commonplace deceptions, weirdly believable?

Also: Rumors persist that Tom's Scientology-rich pseudo-love somehow convinced Katie that she must immediately dump her longtime, beloved manager and agent switch to his. And she is rumored to be disassociating with old friends and not communicating with her close family (cult behaviors, all) -- and did we mention the part about how the Scientologists have allegedly assigned her a handler/new best friend to tag along wherever she goes and answer questions for her and coach her on how to behave and speak when asked about their "religion"?

Hell, not even Mel Gibson has a beady-eyed priest from the Holy Family uber-Catholic sect following him around everywhere he goes, answering, in hissing Latin, questions from Vanity Fair reporters and spraying everyone with fake stage blood and sitting next to Mel in all the big studio meetings and screaming "Jesus wants 20 percent off the back end, plus international DVD rights!" while twitching madly.

But then again, Mel's an old hand at being a slightly creepy religious nuthead. And now, apparently, so is Tom. After all, he's been deep into Scientology for upward of 20 years, and is rumored to have progressed to the level of an OT6 (Operating Thetan 6), which is a super-secret high level of the church with super-secret knowledge of the alien story (called "The incident") and ESP, and they all get super-secret decoder rings with access to all the best alien-bred hallucinogens in the L. Ron Hubbard Bone Room, where high ranking devotees gather to drink bunny blood and watch old Travolta movies and discuss what the hell to do about Kirstie Alley.

But Katie Holmes, she's not like them. She's just a kid. She needs lots of creepy brainwashi... er, gentle religious coaching into the super-secret ways of the "church" of Scientology, with their incredibly vicious army of lawyers who attack anyone who says anything at all negative about their cult... er, religion.

(Note to Scientology: first signs that you are not a true religion: You cannot take a joke. You have an army of attack lawyers. You are so unstable as a religion you are unable to handle satire. You think the Kabballah is suing everyone who trashes Madonna? They'd be broke in a week. Just a thought.)

One thing the weird TomKat relationship is not, we can be reasonably sure, is a publicity stunt designed to lure more fans to "War of the Worlds" and "Batman Begins." Reason: Tom Cruise does not need the money. As Edward Jay Epstein points out in his excellent Slate piece, Tommy raked in well over $120 million on the first two "Mission: Impossible" movies alone, and stands to make easily that much from "War of the Worlds" and the forthcoming "M:I-3" and he is quickly accumulating more power and money than God or than the giddy accountants over at the bizarre Scientology compound outside Hemet, Calif., ever wet-dreamed.

Should we be worried? Should anyone care? Should it at all matter beyond buying yourself a Free Katie T-shirt and shaking your head and laughing it all off as just more pop culture chyme and then going to rent the surprisingly decent "Minority Report"? Of course it doesn't. Getting deeply involved in the lives of annoying, semi-articulate celebs is like getting all wrapped up in what Paris Hilton feeds her Chihuahua. It just has no bearing.

But then again, we have a warning. Remember, won't you, the savage impact Mel Gibson had, coming out of the blue and slapping the culture with his ultraviolent, blood-drenched vision of a very miserable Jesus being pulverized into raw veal and calling it spiritual enlightenment. Kooky-rich celebs with pseudo-religious agendas can be dangerous indeed, if for no other reason than they annoy the living hell out of you when you're trying to meditate.

It just feels like Tom is gearing up for something, doesn't it? Like it's no more Tom Cruise the cute kid from "Risky Business" or the hot gay stud from "Top Gun" or the chick-flick dreamboat from "Jerry McGuire," but now it will be Tom Cruise, the bizarre Hollywood power player, the unstoppable, outspoken cult-head with a gleaming, glazed-eyed "wife," proselytizing like a ferret and working hard to convert the masses.

It feels like this is all some sort of bizarre precursor to, say, 2015, when Cruise's powerful production company suddenly whips out "The Passion of the Hubbard," depicting the cheesy sci-fi hack writer and Scientology founder as the new Jesus, dancing with 75-million-year-old aliens and battling the evil overlord Xenu while busting "engrams" like water balloons and calling on the people of Earth to join him in the bunker so we may all join hands and look to the skies for the next big comet to pass by so we may leap from this Earthly plane and join the UFOs on their journey and . . . oh wait, sorry, wrong sect.

So anyway. Thanks, Tom, for all the decent movies, aggro performances, that mega-intense, frat-boy-on-'roids stare. But please, before you get any weirder, would you maybe consider exiting calmly? Is it too late to ask? If we all buy a copy of Hubbard's silly little "Dianetics" and send it to Brooke Shields, will you go away and leave us alone? Damn. I didn't think so.


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