It’s desperately old, I realize, this YouTube clip of Tom Cruise chatting up the benefits and power of Scientology in strange, circuitous fashion, but I hadn’t watched it prior to its spoof in last weekend’s Superhero Movie, so what’s that perfectly annoying saying NBC coined — “It’s new to you!” Well, that applies here. If you have nine or 10 minutes and still haven’t seen it, it’s well worth checking out. Hell, even the first couple minutes will give you a sense of the top-shelf crazy on display here, what with Cruise talking about Scientology being “the authorities on the mind, the authorities on improving conditions.” Err… OK. And what the hell is “Crim-Anon?”
“Being a Scientologist, people are turning to you, so you’d better know it. You better know it,” Cruise offers up at one point, with his trademark intensity and… menacing pause. “And if you don’t, go and learn it.” Other bon mots find Cruise rhapsodizing that he “will not hesitate to put ethics in on someone else” (?!), which is a trait I believe he might share with President Bush. If the cumulative effect of all this really forceful rhetoric is mesmerizing and definitive — Cruise is as madly persuadable as he is madly persuasive — its actual meaning and real-world application is still fuzzy, though. There’s a lot of talk about change and action, and an emphasis on doing, on recognizing complexities and “creating new and better realities.” But there’s never any sense of what sort of “other world” Cruise (or any other Scientologist, for that matter) is specifically advocating. I mean, other than the same sort of fuzzy liberal rap hung around the neck of every Hollywood actor, what socio-political agenda or causes (other than the anti-psychotropic drug stuff) does Scientology advocate? Change and action, on a certain substantive level, mean engagement with the real world, not shrouded secrecy.