August 25, 2006

Cruisin' For a Bruisin'

I'm breaking my "no celebrity news" rule twice in one month, but it has been that kind of summer. First there was Mel Gibson's drunk driving arrest and anti-Semitic tirade. Now we have Tom Cruise getting canned by Paramount boss Sumner Redstone for his off-screen behavior, which Redstone implies cost Paramount over one hundred million dollars in lost "Mission Impossible III" ticket sales. If we don't own a movie studio, should we care what Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson or any other movie actor does off-screen? The answer is, sometimes, and this is one of those times.

Normally, it does not matter to me what actors do off-screen, who they marry and divorce, what drugs they take, who they sleep with or what they eat for breakfast. That's why I refuse to read tabloids and gossip columns, nor do I watch any of the "entertainment" channels or segments on television that deal in this trash. But, as was the case with Mel Gibson saying Jews have caused all the wars in history in the midst of a war between Israel and Hezbollah, where world opinion often has life-and-death consequences, Tom Cruise's recent off-screen behavior affects me or people I know.

It wasn't Tom's jumping up and down on Oprah's couch. It's not the publicity that he helped generate regarding his marriage to Katie Holmes, coinciding suspiciously with movie releases for him and his wife. It isn't whether Tom Cruise is gay, although it saddens me if gay Hollywood leading men still have to enter fake marriages to maintain their careers. It isn't his private religious beliefs either.

It's the antidepressants, stupid. It's the June 2005 Matt Lauer "Today Show" interview, wherein Tom attacked Brooke Shields for taking post-partum antidepressants that she says saved her life, and wherein Tom launched into a tirade against psychiatric medication and psychiatry, calling it a "pseudo science." This from a guy who subscribes to a religion invented by a science fiction writer, some say as a joke to win a bet with fellow sci-fi author Ray Bradbury, that teaches that people have had past lives on other planets, and that mothers must be silent during childbirth.

I'm not here to trash Tom Cruise's or anyone else's religion. Whatever he wants to believe is his right. Trying to discover each show biz personality's values and beliefs and basing entertainment purchasing decisions on these would be a fruitless full-time job. But when Tom Cruise uses his celebrity to go on national television, ostensibly to plug his latest movie, and then uses that platform to foist his personal religious views on everyone else, I have a problem, especially when those views concern a mental health issue that is central to many people's lives and happiness. Tom Cruise has the right to free speech, but his freedom ends at my face. And I have the freedom over my discretionary spending, including which movies I will pay to see in the theater and rent at home.

See, I know people who take antidepressants. They tell me and I have seen for myself that the drugs help them. It's possible that, like Brooke Shields, one or more of these people might have contemplated suicide if not for those little pills. I don't want them to do that. I want them in my life. End of story. Fade to Black. Roll credits.

So Tom, if you want to get back into my wallet, get out of my face.


At 4:02 PM, Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

You're right that he was dead wrong about antidepressants, but his downfall was attributable to much more than that ... most of movies aren't terribly good, and if you watched his couch-jumping adventure, the scariest thing was the look in his eyes .. like he just might just start eating babies .. I think Paramount was just scared of continuing with him!

At 2:17 PM, Anonymous Media concepts said...

Thanks Reel, I guess I'm more tolerant than the Paramount folks or the moviegoing public. Tom being a nut aone wouldn't be enough to stop me spending money on his movies, it's only when he makes the public attacks that I mentioned that it becomes a problem. By the way, like you, I was hit with the Spinal Tap bug. References are all over this blog.


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