Friday, July 13, 2012

A Bitter, Staunch Defense of Tom Cruise


Sometimes I wish I had a theme music because there are articles that act as a bat signal calling me into action. Tom Cruise has been deemed indefensible by Sam Lansky of The Atlantic who penned the article “Who’s Left to Defend Tom Cruise?” (Link)

Obviously, Lansky hasn't read my work (The Paula Deen Defense).

We’ve given Tom Cruise flack over the years for three main issues: 

1. Believing he’s unwilling to reveal his sexuality
 2. Scientology 
3. Jumping on a couch.

These are the problems we have created, the reasons we find Tom Cruise to be so “Cruise-y.”

We expect him to reveal his sexuality when in all likelihood it would destroy his image as a leading man, how many openly gay superheroes or action stars have been cast? Is he still able to land the roles, in which he’s able to be the sexy leading man? Yes, Cruise is an executive of United Artists, but since action movies are almost exclusively targeted at teen-age boys and men, will they want to see Tom Cruise seducing women and blowing things up? And how does Cruise fair in Middle America? Hell, even in California where the people voted down gay marriage?


Now a major action star coming out of the closet would be unprecedented and maybe the public would fully support Cruise and flock to his films in droves. More likely is the press and public bashing him for “why did it take so long?” Even though most crave for Cruise to come out. 


No matter what he does in terms of his sexuality, which has never been verified, it’s a losing situation. However, if you’re losing you might as well maintain, where you’re at in raking in millions. If he did decide to come out, Cruise would never be out of work as an actor, but he would be subjugated to more character actor roles and comedies (asexual roles). Maybe even serious dramas that aren’t expected to have the big budget potential of 140 million dollar action flick like Oblivion.  However, as Cruise ages he loses that leading action man status anyway, he’s 50, it’s hard to see Cruise subjugating himself to movies like the geriatric Expendables 2. If he’s ever going to do it, if he wants to do it, it should be later because that could launch him into a second career and keep him relevant.

But ultimately, Tom Cruise coming out doesn’t change the world, it might expose that Hollywood isn’t willing to bank on a gay male star, that this country still has tremendous difficulty separating actors from their roles.

Why can’t a gay man act as a straight man? Most closeted individuals have done it for years. It’s acting, you’re supposed to play someone else, it’s pretend. I think the prominence of Method acting has a lot to do with this need to blur realities. We are unsatisfied with fakery and want it to be real, despite the artificiality of films. In addition, the prominence of TMZ, STAR MAGAZINE, and US MAGAZINE further complicate the actor vs. role dynamic.

We receive massive amounts of information regarding everything the star does in their personal life that the star is transformed into someone we “know.” They are like a friend and if you’ve ever seen your friend in a movie or acting, you always say, “I know he was playing Richard III, but I just couldn’t get past that he and I used to ride bikes together.” The same phenomenon occurs in the movies. A leading actor releases on average about a movie per year, therefore he has only an hour and 30 minutes to convince you they are someone else while for the rest of the year you devour magazines telling who Brad Pitt really is. In turn in life, they must act the way they are on screen.

Remember Michael Jackson? He was a walking punchline, if there was ever a hint that joke you were listening had anything to do with pedophiles you knew the answer was Michael Jackson. However, before that, he created amazing music, he was one of the most talented musical icon ever. We forgot that for good reason, but when he died, it was as if all the weird shit he had done had been washed away. He became Michael again.

Stars do weird shit and we forgive them if they’re good. If they’re great. John Wayne was incredibly far to the right, incredibly pro-Vietnam, he and Walter Brennan basically gay bashed Montgomery Clift on the set of Red River, he was part of “Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals (MPAPAI), which officially invited HUAC to Hollywood in May of 1947,” (eventually leading to the Hollywood Blacklist and killing the careers of actors, directors, and writers on the basis of their political affiliation) (Link)and said incredibly crazy propaganda like this:



But watch Rio Bravo, watch Liberty Valance, watch StageCoach, and you forget it it all because he’s John Wayne.

Take Woody Allen who was caught having sexual relations with the daughter of his then girlfriend Mia Farrow, who discovered the relationship after finding nude photos of the 18 year old that Woody had snapped on the fireplace mantle. People thought Woody’s career was over, that people would never forgive him. Flashforward to 2012, since the incident, he’s been nominated for 8 Academy Awards (won one), has written academy award winning roles for: Dianne Wiest, Mira Sorvino, and Penelope Cruise, and is coming off the biggest box office smash of his career with Midnight in Paris. We tend  to forgive those we love.

Tom Cruise is currently seen as a strange monster, but we live in a country where there’s an actual debate as to whether we should remove a statue of an accomplice to child molestation in Joe Paterno (what other career besides sports is this even a question? If we found out that any other person was an accessory to child molestation for 14 years, their statue goes down no questions asked). It has become difficult to separate the man from the artist, but Tom Cruise hasn’t been apart of the horrible things that others have, he just holds beliefs that others don’t agree with, but so does everyone else. On a villain scale, Tom Cruise shouldn’t be found, I urge you to try to separate the decisions he makes in his personal life and the actor because he’s great as Maverick, Ethan Hunt, and Frank T.J. Mackey. He’s weird, but that’s why we should love him because there’s no one else like Tom Cruise, we should embrace this before it’s too late. 



The Hollywood Defender


3 comments:

  1. Embrace WHAT "before it's too late"???? Seriously? This is the information age, and I really don't think anyone is feeling the love, or ever will again, for a guy who is reportedly the # 2 guy of a VERY dangerous cult. Your comments are very naive, which is fine. I mean if you want to defend someone without actually researching the reasons behind the general publics disgust, be my guest. And the Woody Allen thing? People forgot about that because he wasn't out every day pimping his "happy family life" calling the paps to tell them where they'd be every day
    TC has had more than his share of fame and fortune, it's time for that girl to leave the ball. Specially since there are far too many talented actors in his age range who aren't whacked out cult members.

    signed
    Libraesque

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  2. I agree with this article. Here is another good article defending Tom Cruise. http://blog.timesunion.com/chuckmiller/defending-tom-cruise-on-his-50th-birthday/14471/

    I think the media is getting out of control. Most of the stuff posted is ridiculous and extremely far-fetched. Sure, maybe Scientology is weird and a cult. However, I have yet to see anything Tom Cruise has actually done to hurt people. (And yes, I have seen the videos and, at most, people can say he is weirdly enthusiastic about his religion) I wish he would leave Scientology, but even if he doesn't I will still watch his movies because he is a great actor!

    The media needs to show some responsibility, but, as the above person posted, we are in an information age. Pretty much anything can be said about anyone and people believe it. I am sure TC will bounce back from this and continue to bring us great movies :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your contrite response. As more comes out about the secretive scientology my opinion may change, however it's like anything else. I'm not looking for my movie star to be an intellectual hero, but you have to appreciate his steadfast defense of what he believes in, even if it has completely damaged his image, he hasn't given it up. But as I've written above about the potentiality of him coming out, I am not sure leaving Scientology would even matter. The strongest desire of writers and the general public is to prove that someone is a hypocrite. If he leaves, he'll be thought a hypocrite after being in the religion so long.

      I think Tom Cruise is infinitely more interesting because of the scientology just in terms of legacy. He's often touted as the last movie star we have, even though I believe the success of MI:III was based more on the quality of the film rather than the presence of Cruise, which didn't help Rock of Ages. I was watching his infamous interview with Matt Lauer on mental health drugs, it's fascinating because you have to wonder if that's the real Tom Cruise or the one jumping on the couch.
      Which gets back to a larger point, one comment on imdb talked about the religious bigotry in our country. We mock Cruise for his beliefs in Scientology, but we all belong to the cult of celebrity. Even if we write horrible things about those celebrities, we are still engaging with the cult, we add fuel to the fire. Cruise is great because there's people who love him and people who loathe him fiercely, which makes him such an interesting celebrity. I don't know enough to talk about the morals of Scientology, I have taken one of their free online marriage courses (blog to follow), but morals aside, scientology has created an infinitely interesting character along with the questions about his sexuality. If we knew all the answer to the scientology questions, if we knew all the answers to the sexuality questions, I think we'd lose one of our greatest celebrities because even those that hate on Cruise, enjoy it, because it's fun to discuss something with some many facets because I doubt we would all write as much if I had defended Taylor Kitsch.

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