Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

Tom Cruise: I’ve Found the Villian, and It Is I

Forget “Shame on Tom.” How about “shame on us.”

In reading several articles and blog pieces–including Idol Chatter’s reliable Kris Rasumussen’s–I think almost everyone has missed the real point. Tom’s exit from Paramount wasn’t due as much to his behavior or their greed as much as it was due to our behavior and our greed.

Our behavior was to watch a young actor come out of his choreographed shell and reveal more of his actual character and personality–and then decide not to go to his movies as much. It’s not as if he was some sort balanced character leader or upstanding citizen before he jumped up on Oprah’s couch or shared his pseudoreligious beliefs; we just didn’t know any better. As he got more authentic, we stayed away from his recent releases.

The result? The business entity charged with making a profit (Paramount Studios) made an assessment based on data that he wasn’t the market force he used to be. Correct? Yes. But it didn’t have to be.

What if throngs of citizens had shown up in greater droves, as if to say, “We truly value authenticity off screen while loving great entertainment on screen.” The problem, of course, is that many of us can’t separate the two, and we want too much to believe in (and vicariously connect with) the on-screen personas of celebrities, who lose value for us when they stray from what we want to conceive them as.

And this isn’t new. Humphrey Bogart tried to be the tragic hero in “The Caine Mutiny.” John Wayne got old in “Rooster Cogburn.” Robert Redford got vulnerable (finally) in “Indecent Proposal” and later “The Clearing.” Harrison Ford moved from the trilogies (“Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones”) to artsy stuff like “Mosquito Coast” and later tried to play a Russian in “K-19: The Widowmaker.” Cruise is the latest in a line of famous male actors who’ve tried to climb out of the box that made them famous–whether on-screen or off. It’s not that it’s bad, or wrong. It’s just that we (the public) don’t tend to respond well to it and thus the studios don’t want to pay them for it.

It’s just business, really. But deeper than that, it’s spiritual: We say we long for authenticity and honesty, but we don’t like it when we see it.

And that’s when every actor realizes he or she is really just another commodity.

  • http://www.garageband.com/artist/dianewayne Diane Wayne

    Well said! Absolutely!>

  • http://www.CultureCatch.com Dusty Wright

    I concur. We build the pedestals and statues to elevate our pop icons and then dismantle them when they show us their human traits, cracks, signs of life. Art is not life, though we often do not see nor wish to believe otherwise. DW>

  • Martin Register

    Sorry, but you’re just wrong. Some have lately pointed out that megastars with the wattage of Cruise or Mel Gibson are not running for political office. That is, of course, correct, but it hardly relieves them of behaving by a code of conduct befitting their outsized stardom. Honestly, what do millions of impressionable minds know more about: the beliefs of their political representatives or the latest wisdom from the likes of Tom Cruise? This society may have put Cruise and others on their pedestals, but I don’t recall the famous complaining about being there or the riches which accompany such a predicament. Who would care what Tom Cruise or Mel Gibson had to say, how outrageous their behavior became, were it not for those pedestals? It’s not my fault that people like Tom Cruise find themselves held to certain modicums of expected accountability. Cruise– and Gibson and the others– asked to be famous. Therefore they are responsible to their very impressionable publics. So no one’s asking Cruise or any other star to adhere to a standard befitting a public official. Unfortunately, far too few seem to deeply care what our politicians have to say anyway, and more’s the shame. Yes, Tom Cruise and other megastars have been given extraordinary power and influence, and yes, society may have indeed furnished their vehicles there. But to say that makes them less accountable for their words and actions just misses the point entirely. Sorry. But they asked for their accountability.>

  • http://www.howeteam.com Doug Howe

    Martin, I agree with you about accountabilty, but this blog is about a culture that incentivizes celebrities to be actors even off the screen in order to build their brand, which is inheritantly neither spiritual nor honest. Tom’s big sin was jumping on Oprah’s couch and expressing a religious opinion about birth control, and it cost him about $100 million. Those economics say to every celeb and would-be aspirant to pretend, which doesn’t build our society.>

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