It would seem Scientology could just sit back and relax. Despite Tom Cruise’s public-opinion degeneration after passionately confessing his membership, it’s still going strong, doing what it does best: making a shit load of money, and making celebrities more famous. Yes, that’s right, the most successful house of crazy represents a ‘shrewd career move’ for most celebs in tinsel town, where yes means no and nothing is as it seems.
Articles about Scientology are generally tired, merely regurgitating the same information in publication after publication. Even the finest investigative journalist will struggle to find a good angle, because unless you really, truly believe in Scientology’s whacky principals, it will of course simply appear as though it has very whacky principles. Making an interesting point of difference, Jacques Peretti of the The Guardian wrote a piece that claimed in the shallows of Hollywood it’s hard to trust anyone and sadly especially close relatives who may only see you as a very good-looking ATM machine. Peretti explains that to these wary celebs, Scientology is a bit like the mafia: as long as you pay well, you get the protection of one very powerful family. Ron L Hubbard’s cronies provide the kind of inclusion celebrities so desperately lust after: one that comes with some excellent ready-made connections. We all think Tom Cruise is a total loon, but he’s still one of the richest actors kicking about the boulevard. Think about it.
Scientology feeds off celebrity. That’s why it’s not strange they’re being so dramatic about The Master, which has finally screened at the Toronto Film Festival and has been incredibly well received. With it set to be a huge success, the Scientologists are gunning for it, as it’s quite clearly a pseudo-parody of their beloved founder L. Ron Hubbard – renamed Lancaster Dodd and played by the amazing Phillip Seymour-Hoffman. So extensive is the rumoured campaign against the movie, producer Harvey Weinstein has stepped up his personal security, along with various other members of the film’s crew.
'The Master' is just yet another opportunity to sensationalise Scientology, they know that, and it arrives just as Tom Cruise was beginning to fade from our gossip horizon. It’s as if they’ve realised people are predictable - after all we are undeniably living in a culture that functions off the premise that ‘any publicity is good publicity,’ otherwise how would it be possible that that twat Chris Brown is still selling music? The Internet has harnessed our curiosity to ensure we’re all just a bunch of really lazy researchers, giving our attention to scandal and doing our bit to fertilise it. So, let’s try not to make 'The Master' about Scientology. Call me paranoid, but I think it may well be the outcome they’re hoping for. Leading by example, Paul Thomas Anderson has behaved rather cleverly in ensuring that Scientology doesn’t manage to get a free ride off the back of his movie:
‘This is a character that I created based on L Ron Hubbard, there's a lot of similarities to the early days of Dianetics … I don't know a hell of a lot about Scientology today but I know about the beginnings of that movement and it inspired me to use it as a backdrop for these characters. I can't be any more unambiguous than that. I think we were just trying to tell a love story between these two guys.’
It’s good way of saying, yep, it’s about Scientology but we don’t really care, it just made for a convenient plot line. Such an attitude will be crucial as the film is claimed by the power-nut-house. The best defense is offense, calling a spade a spade and patronising Scientology for simply pointing out the obvious. Yes guys, you’re a cult and this is a film about cults and why they continue to work. So, so what?
Also, have I mentioned that I cannot wait to see this film?
I cannot wait to see this film.