Religious dimwits seem to be taking offence and attempting to block freedom of expression everywhere of late. Christians trying to stop the BBC broadcasting a popular musical. Sikhs bullying theatres into closing down productions. Muslims rioting over cartoons in Denmark. These are just the obvious examples over the last year or so. But now, it would seem, even Hollywood megastars are getting in on the act: Tom Cruise has been accused of getting an episode of South Park pulled because it makes fun of Scientology – the ‘faith’ to which he famously adheres. Rumour has it that Tom met with Viacom bigwigs and threatened to refuse to take part in any promotion of the upcoming blockbuster yawnathon Mission Impossible: 3 if the show was ever repeated (Viacom own both the Comedy Channel, which shows South Park, and Paramount Pictures, the studio behind MI:3). Isaac Hayes – another Scientologist and the voice of Chef in the show - also walked out last week in protest.
I’ve never liked Tom Cruise. First and foremost, you cannot trust short men. Hitler, Stalin, Napoleon, Mao Tse Tung, Ghengis Khan, Dennis Wise, jockeys. . . the list of diminutive types with evil intentions is long and noted. Then just look at the endless stream of shite Cruise has appeared in. Top Gun, where he starred as the cocky, rule breaking pilot. Days of Thunder, where he starred as the cocky, rule breaking racing driver. A Few Good Men, where he starred as the cocky, rule breaking lawyer. Jerry Maguire where he starred as the cocky, rule breaking sports agent. Clearly, his range is as small as his inside leg measurement.
Then there was that incident last summer when, as part of a prank for a Channel 4 ‘comedy’ called Balls of Steel, he was squirted in the face with water from a fake microphone at the London premiere for War of the Worlds. The sheer indignation and lack of humour he displayed following the incident (he even pressed charges for ‘assault’, though these were later dropped) was ridiculous. You’d think someone had thrown a bucket of excrement over Mother Teresa for all the fuss he made. Tom, you star in vacuous Hollywood drivel for millions of dollars per film: you’re not feeding the starving of Africa or developing a cure for cancer. You are a laughable caricature of stardom and you are ripe for ridicule.
But most objectionable of all has to be his devotion to the bonkers money-raising cult known to its adherents as the ‘Church of Scientology’. I’ve been looking into what they believe but, after doing some preliminary reading, I honestly don’t know where to begin. You’d be hard pushed to come up with a bigger pile of horsewank if you tried. In fact, you could imbibe your body weight in mind altering hallucinogens after fasting for a month and you would still be more intelligible. The whole ‘religion’ reads like a bad episode of Battlestar Galactica.
Wikipedia, as ever, is a great resource: read all about it for yourself here. In particular I enjoyed the section that deals with Xenu, the galactic tyrant who kidnapped billions of people from across the universe who he deemed to be ‘excess population’, then transported them by rockets – in a frozen state, of course- to the planet we call Earth. Then he dropped them into volcanoes. Then he blew them all up with hydrogen bombs. Oh, and then he brainwashed them with a huge motion picture for 36 days (sort of like watching U2’s Zoo TV show in the mid-nineties, only not as expensive and with less chance of Salman Rushdie walking onstage halfway) to really traumatise them. These tortured souls (‘body thetans’) then inhabited our bodies as human life evolved and are the root cause of all our anxieties, fears and insecurities.
Scientology can remove these, apparently, but at a cost. Meanwhile, our old chum Xenu (if anyone’s still interested) is believed to still be alive, but is imprisoned in a mountain by an eternal force field. And he’s watched over by a benevolent spirit called Eckyeckyecky Flambola III. (Actually, I made that last line up myself, but who would know?)
Anyway, back to South Park. The episode in question – Trapped in the Closet – was originally broadcast in the US last November. Scheduled for a repeat last week, it mysteriously wasn’t shown in its scheduled timeslot, rumours started flying of censorship at Viacom and an internet campaign has kicked off to get it televised again. It has never been shown in the UK and perhaps never will as our libel laws would allow Tom Cruise to sue. Because as well as lampooning Scientology, the show also has fun with the longstanding rumours about Cruise's sexuality. The episode features a scene where Tom hides in Stan’s closet and won’t come out. Cue the predictable (but very funny) sequence of people banging on the door and saying: “Mr Cruise, you can’t stay in the closet. You need to come out. Everyone is waiting for you to come out of the closet.” Hilarious. Alas, we won’t see it on UK television but you can watch the whole episode here. I did, and thoroughly recommend it. Just don’t tell Tom Cruise.