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Cruise Control

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“Tape Oprah @ 4!” This was the text on a note I left for myself last week. I never ever thought I would have left myself a note imploring myself (or anyone else for that matter) to tape Oprah. Regardless, last week was the replay of the now legendary interview of Tom Cruise on Oprah’s show. The very same episode has been reviewed and parodied endlessly and it has become the spark that lit the fuse on all recent the media dissection of Tom Cruise. So I watched the entire piece and my only comment to my brother after the show was, “He seems like an alright guy.”

Does this mean that Oprah appearance was a case of ‘much ado about nothing?’ Well, not quite. I have to agree that he did seem a little overexcited whenever the topic of his girlfriend, Katie Holmes came up. To Oprah’s credit, she ensured the subject was brought up often and then sat back and watched his borderline manic responses. But I’ve seen guys act oddly and say things that are out of character when they’re in love. Sure, I haven’t seen this since high school, but I have seen it.

As I mentioned before, that Oprah appearance touched off seemingly endless analysis and debate on Tom Cruise. It took an event as big as the “Live 8” concerts for the world to stop talking about Tom, Scientology, his publicist and Katie Holmes.

Has it gotten this bad? Apparently. Why do we care enough to speculate whether Tom and Katie are really in love or if this is an elaborate publicity stunt to cover up Cruise’s homosexuality while simultaneously promoting “War of the Worlds” and “Batman Begins.” Read that back and think about how ridiculous the second part sounds, yet I’ve heard it being repeated repeatedly in the media.

But what about the age difference, isn’t that creepy? No, not really. It’s actually quite common but for some reason now the world seems to care. The relationship angles are truly out of control. I actually found myself hearkening back to the days when Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez were dating. They seemed underexposed by comparison.

I’ve also learned much more about Scientology than I ever wanted to know. I even briefly considered buying a book on the subject when I remembered that I’m far too cheap to do such a thing. The media reports were particularly comprehensive, so I feel I have a basic understanding their general philosophy. Still, I question my motive. Did I read all that stuff because I want to learn about Scientology or is it just so I can be more interesting at parties whenever the topic of Tom Cruise pops up? Perhaps it’s a combination of both.

Then there is the story of how Tom Cruise fired his long time publicist and replaced her with his sister, which coincided with his Oprah appearance, the very public details of the Katie Holmes relationship, the Matt Lauer tirade on the evils on psychiatry, etc. etc. For me, the most disturbing thing isn’t the change in publicists, it’s how I came to know so much about all of this. Why do I [we] care so much? How did I manage to find out way more about Cruise’s life than I ever wanted? By the way, his adopted son is black, you know. Again, I shouldn’t know information like this.

Anyway, this past weekend, it was as if Africa raised up its collective hand and said, “Hey, real world issues going on down here!” Even though it took celebrities like Bob Geldof and Bono to amplify the message, it still snapped me out of my Tom Cruise haze enough to look back and wonder how I, like so many others, got sucked in. Do you think Tom ponders your relationship motives? Does he sit around and speculate on the validity of your belief system? If you changed your cologne, would he wonder if that’s why you can’t get a date anymore? The answer is no.

But we do care. We eat it up. This wouldn’t be news unless it captured our attention. It wouldn’t get this level of exposure if it didn’t sell newspapers or attract viewers. And it isn’t just Tom Cruise. It seems like every few months some celebrity’s life is exposed, the media runs with it, and the general public follows along.

Perhaps it’s an escape, like a good novel or an episode of “Monday Night Raw.” Perhaps it’s a lot easier to speculate on the odd life of a celebrity than face some of the stuff that’s going on in places like Africa, the Middle East, or North Korea. Reality can be scary while a celebrity doing a personality 180 is a much easier topic to talk about over the water cooler or the dinner table.

Hey I just chose to write 800 words why we shouldn’t care about Tom Cruise. How’s that for irony?

– Hardy

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About Hardy

  • Hardy,

    Yeah, and I just chose to read it! I have dibs on the “too much time on my hands” wagon.

    Celebrity – as a broad general term which encompasses the public’s interest in these artificial properties – is as fascinating a subject as you could ever explore. Why people would go to such lengths to try and “know” everything they can about someone – who, if truth were known, quite probably is a complete dolt and would bore you to tears – will remain a mystery forever. It can be explained and rationalized but, unless you have that “bug,” I don’t think it can be understood by those like most others who (I assume) could care less.

    It just fascinates me, no end. After seeing a show called “I Want A Famous Face” I knew we, as a culture, have lost significant contact with reality. And I am not at all sure we can get it back.

    Cheers, an pass me the People magazine,