June 2, 2005

Tom Cruise is an actor.

Why are people fretting about Tom Cruise? I've seen the clip of his expansive, physical expression on "Oprah" and the "Access Hollywood" thing, and both look entirely like his big "Help me help you" scene in "Jerry Maguire." The man is an actor who happens to be especially good with comic physical demonstrations and not so good at the realistic depiction of genuine human emotion.


Dave said...

Well, it's obvious why Hollywood is fretting.

Despite conservatives' concerns, Hollywood itself has always been a pretty conservative place. Hollywood, more than most places, is well aware of the power of appearance. Beauty is not, contrary to the saying, only skin deep. One's appearance and demeanor informs a lot about how others view you. Tom Cruise has developed himself into a safe, mainstream star, who Hollywood can safely sell to middle America.

When he exhibits bizarre behavior, such as that on Oprah, or his professions of devotion to cults, Hollywood producers are worried: he's becoming less "safe" and "bankable" a star. Think of it this way: what if Will Smith decided to return to rapping, and instead of making a harmless song about, say, summertime in Philly, adopted some of the more hard-edged tones of urban hip-hop?

Hollywood execs would be sweating bullets. Hollywood's business is built upon the explicit, but oddly unstated, premise that mainstream movie stars need to be largely uncontroversial.

(Most people, even most self-described conservatives, do not adopt a hostile stance toward Hollywood's political leanings because most people are uninterested in that aspect of Hollywood. Hollywood is a bogeyman only to conservative activists.)

It seems quite clear why people are worried about Cruise's bizarre behavior: they have committed too much money to the guy for him to contradict people's expectations of him. Appearance is everything.

price said...

Tom Cruise always been one of the biggest phonies in existence. It's just refreshing to see that people aren't really buying it anymore. The Scientology and contractual romances aren't helping things, and are making him seem as fame-warped as Michael Jackson. In my mind though, he's been irredeemable ever since he began suing people for implications about his sexuality, and codifying this homophobia in his various lawsuits. It's basically the kind of thing that gay teenagers really need to hear from their heroes. In conclusion, you're right... what were people expecting? I for one am glad people are finally catching on.

Bruce Hayden said...

Price points out Cruise's falsity. Last weekend, pointed out to my daughter (almost 14), that she was as tall, if not taller, than he already. Her response was that he looked taller on the screen.

I don't know if any of you caught it last week, but there was a great interview with (Not) Tom Cruise on HuffintonToast. It had to do apparently with his relationship with Mel Gibson.

The Scientology stuff was brought up (repeatedly - that is one very weird religion), his height (booster shoes and seat in Top Gun), his homophobia, etc. Great stuff.

StrangerInTheseParts said...

Could it be that Mr. Cruise is reacting to Mel Gibson's success with the Passion?

After all, like Mel, Tom has his own stalwart (and somewhat hidden) faith, plus a Hollywood sized ego and Hollywood sized insecurities. Has Mr. Gibson's double-whammy of unmasking his religious zealotry and making a bundle at the same time worked itself into Mr. Cruise's competitive mind as a kind of dare, a kind of challenge?

Not a Grand Unified Theory of Tom, I grant you, but a little kindling for the fire.

- Stranger

Mom Underground said...

I doubt Tom Cruise is competing with Mel Gibson in the sense mentioned above, but if he is, he's more myopic and self-centered than I thought. Gibson's particular brand of Catholicism isn't too beyond the pale for most Americans' comfort levels. Scientology, however, is another story. No medication for religious reasons? We have a society that hates the idea of being barred from medical procedures and medications. Throw religion into the mix and eeeewwwwww.

Murky Thoughts said...

The fact that Tom Cruise is an actor is merely incidental to what's concerning here, which is that he's a much adored charismatic who is promoting a religious cult.

J. Blair said...

Penelope got off the crazy train just in time!!

StrangerInTheseParts said...

Anne -

Will you bite if we shift the operative word from 'competition' to envy? Tom has to be looking at Mel's success with the Passion and drooling. Gibson showed his true religious colors - he dared to show a passionate and somewhat controviersial "brand of Catholicism" - and in doing so he alienated A LOT of people in the public and within the Hollywood machine, and he risked his stardom. But it paid huge dividends - in cash, and in adulation amongst the faithful.

A story like that has to appeal to a True Believer like Tom - to whom his beliefs about medication and aliens are not in the least bit "Ewwww". To him they are enlightened beliefs that the stultified masses just can't quite see yet. If only someone could show them the Light!

I can hear him and Travolta and the rest of the inner sanctum sitting around and pumping each other up Jerry Maguire style: "Why can't we show our true colors? Why shouldn't we expect to find lots of people out there waiting for us to share our passionate and controversial beliefs? When are we gonna do something REALLY IMPORTANT with our fame? Our time has come!"

Perhaps it is a mark of his LACK of myopia that he is slowly ramping up his 'coming out' as a die-hard Scientologist. If he was totally a fool he'd be dumping his own money into a production of "The Passion of L. Ron." and expecting people to buy tickets. Instead, he's out there working the talk shows, softening up the target, testing the repsonse.

For the record, I'm neither a fan of Tom Cruise, scientology, the Passion, or orthodox faith of any kind. What interests me is the way these things appear - to my eye - to be part and parcel with the zeitgeist lately - which has something to do with People of (usually orthodox)Faith coming out into the mainstream culture without apology for their beliefs (a la President Bush) and finding a much larger audience than anyone in the mainstream used to think existed for this stuff. Tom's just looking to get in on the action.

Mom Underground said...

I like that line of thinking better. Next Task: Convert Catholic Katie Holmes. After that: THE WORLD!!!!!

Does this mean the pharmaceutical lobby isn't as powerful as it's made out to be?

lindsey said...

Regarding the Passion of L Ron, ick.

Brent said...

The real story . . . .

Tom fired his former PR rep, the mighty Pat Kingsley, and replaced her with his sister. Does anyone believe that the recent spate of stories critical of both Tom AND his sister have just appeared without the deep connections and knowing help of his former Colonel Parkerite Kingsley? Even Time Magazine is giving this story a full page - Please!

Tom is no different than before; he has simply made an enemy that can expose the sort of things that she, Godmother Kingsley, had previously kept so closed from the public, aided by her willing minions in the entertainment press ("someday I will ask of you a favor"). The next reality show should be "Ultra-Famous Celebrity Manager" - guaranteed to be more frightening (and more realistic)than "the Sopranos."

Ann Althouse said...

Brent: Interesting. Do you have direct information about this?

Brent said...

Wow, did I pick the wrong time to go on vacation: I write my first-ever blog comment, on one of my two favorite blogs, and then leave on a technology-free week - only to return and find that Ann herself has asked me a question! Just wanted to say that it is an honor to be directly addressed by you, Ann.

To the subject at hand: "Do you have direct knowledge of this?" . . . yes and no.
As regards Tom Cruise and his regular behavior, yes, I do. Without divulging much time-consuming detail, let me simply say that Tom is not acting differently now in the public eye (Oprah, Leno, the Scientology-related publicity junkets/interviews, etc.)than he has acted for many years, well hidden from the public eye. That would be the job of his publicist/agent/manager, to protect the private Tom and promote the desired public Tom image at all times. In this he is certainly no different than any other celebrity with a manger.
In regards to Pat Kingsley behind it all: no, I do not have direct knowledge I'm afraid - only the word on the street.
By the way, relating to our subject, "Cheat Seeking Missiles" today has an interesting story regarding Tom's cover on last month's Reader's Digest. http://cheatseekingmissiles.blogspot.com/