On May 23, 2005, Tom Cruise jumped on Oprah’s couch and declared his love for Katie Holmes. For the first time, a lot us thought that Mr. Cruise might be crazy. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. Don’t know, never met him. Don’t care.
We pay attention to this stuff because we are bored.
On June 24, 2005, Cruise got into a dumb argument with Matt Lauer on The Today Show about Brooke Shields using Paxil for her postpartum depression. Look at that sentence again. Its very topic and the people involved staggers the imagination. I keep thinking I just made it up. No, really. He went on and on about psychiatry and called Matt Lauer "glib" and generally made himself look like an idiot. Nobody uses the word "glib" and gets away with it.
None of us normal people ever say or do anything stupid. Nope.
Well, we do, but there usually isn’t a camera around to record our stupidity, and even if a camera is around, millions of people don’t care.
All this tomfoolery happened during the publicity lead-up to the movie War of the Worlds. Spielberg was worried and denied he was worried. The studio was worried and denied they were worried. I read about Tom Cruise’s odd behavior and saw the late night jokes about him on Letterman and The Daily Show. I saw the video of him jumping on Oprah’s couch on the Internet. I saw a lot of parodies too.
I don’t care if Tom Cruise is crazy. I don’t care if he’s gay either (not saying he is; I’m saying there have been vicious, vile rumors. Tom Cruise, you’ll never read this, but if you do, please don’t sue me). I don’t care if his relationship with Katie Holmes is a sham, and I don’t care about their baby, Suri. I wish them all well. What bothers me (sort of) is that we pay too much attention to this meaningless stuff.
Celebrities are always getting into off-screen trouble:
Back in ancient history (the 90s), Anne Heche claimed she had an alter ego named "Celestia," who talked to aliens. In April of 1995, actress Margo Kidder went missing for three days. They found her huddled in some bushes. The first Superman movie isn’t any worse because of what Margo Kidder does with her time off. And Paul Reubens … He got caught in a sleazy movie theater. The Pee Wee Herman Show is still funny. I think it is anyway, but I’ve got a sick sense of humor.
So people go "off the deep end" once in awhile. Sure.
Tom Cruise, and a lot of other celebrities for that matter, is a Scientologists. Many people, myself included, think that Scientology’s ideas are far-fetched. But think about some other religions and what they believe. Rising from the dead? Seventy-two virgins? Turning water into wine? Elephant-headed gods? Nirvana? Purgatory? Reincarnation? Come on! Viewed from the outside, all religions (gasp! even yours) seem unbelievable. People who believe one thing think people who believe something else are wrong. That’s the way it is. All groups think all the other groups are loony.
Art shouldn’t have to suffer for the artist’s sins.
When I saw War of the Worlds after Tom Cruise "jumped the couch," I enjoyed the movie. I had a great time. Tom Cruise is an actor. I saw the character in the movie and forgot all about Tom Cruise and his crazy off-screen antics. We have to try to separate the art from the artist.
Michael Jackson? I was never that big of a fan, but despite his offstage plummet, the “Thriller” video is still groundbreaking. He is (or at least was) talented. Would I watch anything he’s done today? Probably not. Art transcends the artist, even if the artist is an idiot.
In Cold Blood is a great novel no matter how odd Truman Capote’s behavior seemed to some people. Who cares? The words are written, and the book is published. The book survives the author.
How would we feel, the unknown and obscure, if every single day we lived our lives in front of a camera? Would any of us "normal" people make fools of ourselves? Of course not. We don’t have embarrassing moments. We’ve never let our guards down. No, we live glamorous lives. Right? Our weight never fluctuates, and we always look great. Right? I mean, no one out here in the "real" world has any idiosyncrasies.
None of us has ever slipped and almost dropped a baby. Well, a few of us probably have, but we weren’t being photographed at the time. Poor Britney Spears. How dare she have a baby and be in the spotlight at the same time?
What about Mel Gibson? Is Braveheart any better or worse because Mel Gibson is (allegedly) a racist?
Us normal people never do anything like that. None of us has ever been drunk and said anything stupid. None of us has every used a racial slur after drinking too much.
Nope, us normal people have the luxury of making mistakes without the cameras, and we get the smug enjoyment of making fun of famous people who make the unforgivable mistake … of being human.