Should Tom Cruise Get a Pass?
We are living in a time of a Great Show-Business Reckoning, as a slew of wealthy and powerful men are being held responsible like never before for sexual harassment and sexual assault. Every day it seems like another giant of the entertainment industry is being toppled for a long, damning history of sexual misdeeds. People are being held accountable not only for their own sins but also for the sins of their husbands, wives, business partners, employers and collaborators.
In light of this long overdue reckoning, I can’t help but wonder why Tom Cruise has so far largely escaped serious consequences for his long, public history with the increasingly incompetent greed, fame and money cult Scientology. For a very long time, Scientology was protected by money, fear, intimidation and the fame and power of superstar, household name members like Cruise but over the past decade or so that power has diminished substantially as the “Church” takes one massive hit to its already tattered reputation after another.
Scientology seems to be crumbling and while Cruise isn’t quite as synonymous with it as he has been in the past, he remains its highest profile and most powerful member. Cruise is the public face of Scientology and while Leah Remini has certainly spoken out against him extensively in her ongoing crusade against her former cult, even going so far as to argue that Cruise could “end” Scientology is he wanted to, the fawning press Cruise tends to attract tends to gloss over his role in helping fund and popularize a criminal greed and fame cult that has destroyed countless lives over a period of decades.
There are a couple of reasons Cruise’s career has thrived rather than ended in the era of #MeToo #TimesUp and the Weinstein Effect. The main reason is probably that the great show business reckoning has been almost exclusively centered on sexual transgressions, whether in the form of sexual harassment, sexual assault or molestation. As far as I know, no one has accused Cruise of anything in the way of sex crimes. He retains a Boy Scout image deep into middle age and while there are all manner of whispers and rumors about Cruise’s romantic life and the disconcertingly central role the “Church” of Scientology plays in it, having a strange love life and auditioning potential wives like cinematic leading ladies is not a crime.
Another reason Cruise is grinning his way through another winning press tour instead of facing angry questions and accusations about his role in Scientology is because at least according to our dumb, wrong government, Scientology is a religion and harshly criticizing it would open critics up to charges of anti-religious bias as well as hypocrisy, as God and Xenu both know that Scientology is not the only faith, or quasi-faith, with strange rituals and customs that may not hold up to outside scrutiny or seem terribly progressive to outsiders.
It also helps Cruise that he’s been Mr. Scientology for three decades and if decades upon decades of negative press due to his relationship with the widely reviled cult hasn’t done much to hinder his enormous popularity and power, I can’t imagine any new revelations would. This is all old news.
It could also be argued that Cruise is blissfully, intentionally unaware of the full extent of Scientology’s crimes and misdeeds, that he’s sheltered from the sect’s flagrant human rights abuses and sees a version of the faith every bit as manicured and stage-managed as a Western diplomat’s trip to Stalin’s Soviet Union in the aftermath of World War II.
Lastly, Cruise’s religious, or quasi-religious faith, is his own damn business and as long as he’s not hurting anyone, who are we to stand in sour judgment of him and his actions?
But by being a human recruitment ad for Scientology, Cruise is hurting a lot of people in very real, very substantive ways. As various exposes chronicle, Cruise benefits from the slave labor of rank and file Scientology members working round the clock in deplorable conditions to make his every visit to base as shiny and perfect as possible but we non-Scientologists benefit from slave labor and sweatshop conditions as well when we purchase any manner of cheap consumer goods. I don’t think any of us want to spend too much time thinking about the countless ways we’re complicit in the horrors of the modern world.
Cruise’s incredible wealth and fame may keep him from seeing the ways that Scientology hurts everyday people, instead of helping celebrities like himself. Cruise should be held accountable for the major role he plays in allowing a poisonous and toxic cult to continue to ruin lives but I don’t know what those consequences might look like or who would enforce them.
Cruise is, after all, a movie star to the core and we have a tendency to forgive movies stars anything for the pleasure and glamour they bring into our live but thankfully that tendency seems to be ending, at least where sexual misdeeds are concerned. It remains to be seen whether that holds true of complicity in sinister cults as well.
I make my living through the Patreon so if you would be kind enough to pledge even a dollar over a month over at http://patreon.com/nathanrabinshappyplace it'd be nothing short of