Thursday, June 30, 2005

To See or Not to See ...

... That is the question.

I've never not seen a movie because of the beliefs of an actor in it.  Sure, there's plenty of times actors have made their political and/or religious beliefs known, using their fame as a soapbox from which to exercise their First Amendment rights.  And there have certainly been situations when I didn't agree with the positions of said performers.  But, hey, when I see a movie, I'm not endorsing their positions, I'm seeing a damn movie.  Being entertained.  Escaping reality.  Et cetera.

But I'm really torn over this whole Tom Cruise War of the Worlds thing. 

Because he's using air time that he should be devoting to publicizing the movie to instead spouting his own nonsense about Scientology and (specifically) that psychiatry is a "pseudo-science" and "there is no such thing as a chemical imbalance."  Like I said, I generally don't mind when actors go on about things they feel passionately about, even when I disagree with them.  But here, I find his comments offensive to the people I know living with chemical imbalances and the millions like them.  Thank you, Tom; thank you for telling my friend who is struggling daily to overcome depression that there's no physical cause for it and that in essence (I hope you don't mind me giving voice to your unspoken point, Tom) "she should just snap out of it."

Sure, there's plenty of people out there who hold those beliefs.  And I invite those people to debate psychiatrists in the court of public opinion -- that is, if anyone cares enough about their position to listen.  But, I don't think they should get free air time for their arguments simply because they have an adherent who happens to be a celebrity opening up in a big motion picture.  Cruise said (in the now infamous interview with Matt Lauer) "I can't discuss what I wanna discuss?"  No, Tom, you can't.  You're here to promote your damn movie.  Your fame gets you an eight-freakin'-figure salary per movie.  Write and publish a book.  Hell, buy a whole damn newspaper and spout on at length about whatever it is that is getting your jockeys in a bunch.  If you took all your money and invested it in an Anti-Psychiatry Public Service Campaign, I'd have no problem with it.  (I'd think you were a nut, but I wouldn't begrudge you your share of my $9 admission ticket.)

But you're not just using money that you've earned fair and square.  You're using your celebrity.  You're using the fact that people love your work and think you're cute in order to get free TV time to "discuss what [you] wanna discuss."  And you know what?  I don't want to hear it.  And I feel that, if people stayed away from your movie in droves, your celebrity would plummet and you'd lose the opportunity to have free press time to insult my friends.

Here's the thing.  From everything I've read, War of the Worlds is a pretty damn good movie (which I would certainly enjoy).  But what if, instead of grossing $150 million over this holiday weekend, it just tanked?  Everyone would know why.  It isn't the movie itself -- everyone knows the movie is good.  It would be because the public decided to say it no longer wanted Tom Cruise to have celebrity, because he abused the privilege.

I doubt this will happen.  Heck, I doubt even the millions who are actually taking anti-depressants will be so angered they'll deny themselves a perfectly good Fourth of July science fiction blockbuster.  But man, I so want it to.  I think I may be willing to do my part.


grodygeek said...

Hey NZ,
I can agree with you a whole lot here. Okay first off the guy has a public mid-life crisis the size of Gibralter by the engagement with Ms. Holmes. Then he's given the forum to spout off about psychology. Did you happen to see Lewis Black on "The Daily Show" and his take? Hilarious.

I usually don't see movies on their opening weekend anyway, but it would be nice if it just didn't make the money expected. It does look good, and reports suggest it would be good fun. I like to see these kinds of movie in the theater because the experience is better. Some movies don't lose much if seen on your own television via DVD. This one would. I guess I'll try to wait until it hits the bargain theaters just before it comes out on DVD.

I know personally about psychology, little about "Scientology". My experiences sure have helped me to handle the pitfalls of my life better and I refuse to knock "Scienctology" simply because I'm ignorant of it. I'd just suggest to Tom that you get through to more people by accentuating the postive rather than pontificating on the negative of another science.

the cycling curmudgeon

swibirun said...

I totally agree with your position.  I was so ready to see this movie weeks ago but now.....not so much.  I also have never boycotted a movie because of someone's beliefs but this is a matter of I just don't feel like paying to see someone who is on the news everyday.  Maybe I'll get the DVD next year.


helmswondermom said...

If I HAD been planning to see this movie I would have changed my mind by now.  What he did and said is "ignorance" on so many levels, not to mention tacky.  Did you read Brooke Shields' editorial in The New York Times?  Her response is very warmly conveyed, intelligent and well-thought-out.  As she said, she may not understand the history of psychiatry, but "...I'm going to take a wild guess and say that Mr. Cruise has never suffered from post-partum depression."