Idol Chatter

jetttravoltapic.jpgI don’t normally write about celebrity scandal–it’s not my thing. But I came across this thoughtful article, “Travolta Tragedy: Don’t Blame L. Ron Hubbard,” by Kathryn Lofton on a new webzine, “Religion Dispatches,” that I like a lot (the articles are written mainly by religion scholars and it’s heavy on the politics.)
In her essay, Lofton makes a plea that, in the process of endless, public, tabloid dissection of Kelly Preston’s and John Travolta’s tragic loss of their son, that people stand back for a moment, resist the temptation to sensationalize and instead think about what, exactly, we are all avoiding when we gleefully gossip about a famous person’s loss, especially that of someone belonging to the Church of Scientology, the religion everyone loves to despise:
“It’s tempting to rehearse the details of this consumption, to work through the crime scene and the motive, to share what we know about Jett’s medical records, his ambulance ride, and his parents’ abiding love for their church. It is tempting to do so because it is what we do, studying minor melodramas to fill conversation at check-out lines, to fill the spaces of our own losses as we stare, superior, at the failures of others….we will know and prosecute, know and defame, know and titter. We will know the Travolta-Preston world soon better than we know Gaza, better than we know western Xinjiang, and better than we know Detroit…Before it begins (the inquests, the circling paparazzi, weeping Kelly explicating before weeping Oprah) let us pause, briefly, to think about that body, to think about his floor, and to think about that thing that is much harder to make spectacular, to make sensational or cultish. The tedious work of parenting is beyond unsexy. It is boring and disappointing, repetitive at best and adventurous at worst. And to make a world feel better for what a lousy job they do at it (or how lousy they think they’re doing at it), they will spend some time parsing the possibly religious structures of two actors’ struggles with it. The structures of religion allow for that, and will survive beyond that, furnishing a bendable whipping post for human frailty.”
It’s a thought-provoking article and happily beyond the usual drivel about these matters. Check it out.
Kelly Preston at

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