Jon Reed Goes Off On... November 2006
Thursday, November, 30 2006
In Defense of Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise has a marketing problem. Never in my life did I imagine composing a defense for an egomaniacal scientologist (a word that deserves no capitalization), but the knuckleheads piling on this guy are forcing my hand. Don’t they realize in an age of stiffs and soundbites, finding somebody who’s up for jumping on Oprah’s couch and making fun of therapy addicts is no easy trick? Was I the only one in America that wanted a swig of whatever Tom was drinking? And then all the do-gooders pointed to Paramount, who released him because of his supposedly unsavory behavior. Yeah, sure, bring on the obituaries. For a couple weeks, all the high-minded Hollywood insiders claimed his career was ruined. They went on gossip shows to righteously note that Tom Cruise had not managed his public image properly and that it was going to cost him, using as evidence that Mission Impossible III only made a measly $250 million in profits. But before the gloaters could finish gloating, Tom Cruise went on to sign a movie production deal with MGM that gives him as much control over his films as any actor in Hollywood. While researching this blog entry, I learned that Cruise has reached a level within scientology where it is revealed that our problems are caused by brain implants aliens installed in the human race millions of years ago. Thus the objection to psychiatry – can’t do much about your hang-ups when an alien on a couch somewhere is maneuvering you with his remote control unit. Yeah, Cruise is crazy, but he's good crazy – break-the-monotony crazy, “turn on the TV and finally see someone who isn't looking over at their PR person before they say something” crazy. I’d play it loose too if I was honeymooning with Katie Holmes on a private island and running Hollywood despite a huge computer chip in my head. All the talking heads wringing their hands over Tom’s unpredictable behavior can now move on to analyzing the dissolution of Pamela Anderson’s marriage. As for me, I’m signing up for Tom Cruise’s play-it-like-I-feel-it lifestyle instruction seminar. If this is what they teach in scientology, maybe I need to spend some time with L Ron Hubbard after all. And I’m not going to touch the talent question, except to say that Tom’s appearance in a number of classic movies (as well as in some bold experiments and some all-time beautiful cheese) is not an accident. People who think Vince Vaughn or Ashton Kutcher or one of the Wilson brothers could have pulled off “Born on the Fourth of July” or “Rainman” or “Risky Fucking Business” might want to consult their copy of Dianetics for reprogramming tips. But I don't have an issue with people who hate Cruise and his movies. What bothers me is how one opinion of a person can quickly gel as the establishment media bats the same dumb take back and forth until it calcifies into total acceptance. It’s laughable to claim that Cruise is languishing on the fringes because he had the balls to step out from behind the handlers who were constantly spinning his image so he could spend a couple of memorable months acting like a complete idiot. Going nuts on Oprah is certainly a lot better than walking that thin line of anti-Semitic flirtation and rabid support for strange causes that Mel Gibson is trying on for size. But I’ll take Mel’s colorful oddness over the bland “huddle with my handlers and make some contrite statements” approach that even Britney Spears has adopted. We need more people who don’t give a shit that Paramount and Gillette and Verizon are no longer interested in borrowing them for product endorsements. Unfortunately, Cruise has now transitioned his sister (who acted as his publicist during this meltdown period) into a role managing his charities. He’s now secured a well-regarded publicist to run his affairs. This means the unscripted moments are likely behind us. It won’t be long before Tom is back on Oprah, sitting between her and Brooke Shields, wiping a pre-arranged tear from his eye as he apologizes for hurting Brooke’s feelings and making light of psychiatric care. I can only hope that when he’s done, he’ll lean over, rip off his headplate, and show us that computer chip shining inside. Tom, don’t back down brother, we’ve got enough nice boys to fill a million churches with phony converts to dull corporate meekness.
Tuesday, November, 21 2006
Bob Davie, BCS Apologist and Corporate Shill
Once upon a time, you could have an opinion and call a sports broadcast. Now you can have "opinions," as long as you remember to endorse the establishment viewpoint and shill all the companies who are willing to pay millions to leech off the unscripted excitement of a sports broadcast. It's gotten to the point where you can't have a conservative viewpoint and be perceived as anything but a bread-is-buttered suckup. Take the example of "commentator" Bob Davie, who used the stage provided by the biggest college football game in five years to make his tired case for the BCS. Perhaps Bob truly believes that the BCS is the right solution. But because there's no way he could get away with criticizing the BCS during a big-time football broadcast, we have no way of taking his pro-BCS opinion seriously. It doesn't help that his argument in favor of the BCS is as used as a soggy diaper. Therefore, we are left with the unavoidable conclusion that Bob Davie is a BCS apologist and a shill. There were so many things wrong with Bob's muddle-headed "college football doesn't need a tournament" monologue that it's almost not worth slogging it. Short version: Bob tried to defend the BCS by claiming that if there was a tournament, Ohio State and Michigan would be resting players and thus we'd be deprived of this regular season classic. Um, Bob, what if a playoff system was structured so that the winner of the conference got home field advantage? (a significant edge - just ask the Michigan players) Or what if only the top four teams got to play an extra game, so if you didn't finish in the top four in the polls, you were out of luck? There's many different playoff scenarios that could compel coaches to keep their players on the field. Oh that reminds us Bob, do college basketball teams rest their players in conference tournaments before March Madness? One of the problems with being a shill is that you start to think you don't need to put forth a well-thought viewpoint. I've heard some effective arguments in favor of the BCS, but Bob's plug wasn't one of them. Of course, mocking the idiocy of the BCS is easy. What's tougher is getting these shills out of the booth. In truth, it's not their fault. If they went Howard Cosell on us and injected broadcasts with big picture awareness and sprinkles of thoughtful indignation, they'd be replaced by new analysts built by Home Depot. It's amazing that Brent Musberger and pals can even remember all the products and services they are now required to integrate into their increasingly commercialized banter. On a lighter note, I'm glad that Pontiac is now sponsoring the game summary, I'm not sure what I would do with myself if the game summary wasn't underwritten. Reset the game, sell the starting lineup, auction the free throw, sell out the slam dunk. Name the field, label the stadium, sell the turf, sponsor the coin flip. Bend over backwards, insert corporate tool, become soulless loser. I'd say we need a new line in the sand, but I don't think we can even see the ocean anymore. We're buried in our own complicity. Those who want to fight this are viewed as malcontents. Strange, I never thought of myself that way. I just thought I was someone who loved to watch live sports events without being constantly bombarded by the enormous presence of companies I was already fully aware of.