South Park Self

funny how secrets travel

I blush to admit my slight obsession with the TomKat meltdown, which is really no more than the continuation of my obsession with TomKat, and before that with Tom Cruise himself. This is not, I hasten to clarify, any sort of fangirl he's-so-attractive sort of thing: I can't stand the man, and my interest is more of a sort of horrified fascination with the spectacle he presents. Twiddling my thumbs in traffic this morning, I came to an interesting realisation: like really quite ridiculous amounts of things in my life, this particular urge is also a manifestation of purely academic interests. (Case in point, David Bowie, who's about self-conscious genre play. At least partially. Shut up.)

I do a lot of work with metafiction. Metafiction is characterised, in the words of highly useful critic Patricia Waugh, as fiction "which self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artefact in order to pose questions about the relationship between fiction and reality." It's one of the favoured techniques of postmodernists, that sort of "ha ha this is a book not the real world" with which they step outside their own text to comment on it. Tom Cruise doesn't quite do that, but the fervour and intensity with which he constructs himself as an icon at any given moment borders on parody, creating an artefact - a "star" - whose self-evident falsity is intrinsic to its function. That is - he doesn't present "star" and try to naturalise the identity, he tries to naturalise the performance. Tom Cruise is never not performing Tom Cruise, and the non-existence of a genuine Tom Cruise is so taken for granted that its absence permeates the performance. And the performativity of Tom Cruise takes for granted that we acquiesce in the performance - we relate to it as performance, a text, not as a reality. He's also a simulacrum: he is a performance of a self which goes beyond simply obscuring or replacing a reality to the point where it is not related to a reality at all. Dear Baudrillard, how we miss him.

At any rate, the gossip-column coverage of the TomKat breakdown has been affording me much innocent joy: Katie Holmes seems to have blindsided him utterly with the divorce, leaving him groping for an appropriate response to perform. Even better, it's been such a kick in the teeth to the whole Scientology schtick - she has escaped! because she fears your weird cult! because of what it'll do to her daughter! and she's being superbly tactical about the whole thing. Scientology evokes in me a sort of combination of fear and derision, so it's nice to see the creepy-control-freak-omniscience undercut.

The whole thing has also given me absolutely my favourite quote about Scientology of all time ever:
This is what I find hilarious about Scientology even though it’s obviously scary as sh-t: the entire operation sounds like a game you would have invented in your parents’ basement playing with friends back in grade school where the object - to get to Level Supremeness of The Power Destiny - was to hop up the stairs on one foot, blindfolded, with one hand doing the Spock sign and the other holding an egg, while reciting Twas The Night Before Christmas because Miss Green made us memorise it for the holiday revue.
Courtesy of Lainey Gossip.
ooh, lovely, thank you! although I think it underplays the Scientology control-freak stuff. Scientology is bloody scary.
Yerssss... but I am very aware that my "Scientology=scary" (and closely related Tom=creepy) response is highly conditioned by none-too-balanced media coverage. And therefore in this article, I appreciated having that downplayed a bit. It is after all more about how audiences respond to TomKat than what's actually going on with them (and the Scientology factor), which we cannot possibly know.
Good lord - I feel dirty just looking at paparazzi pics.

I suppose I'm as vain as the next person, but it's odd having someone speculate on the vanity of a 'star' (ie commenting on the height of Tom's running shoe heels).
Whenever I see anything about Tom Cruise I can't help remembering the video where he talks about scientology. That was the weirdest thing I have ever seen.

There has been a staunch "free Katie" brigade in the anti-scientology movement from the moment TomKat first publically announced their relationship. It was not long before she turned into an emaciated Stepford-bot and it's great to see her smiling again and looking much healthier.

Scientology is bloody terrifying and it has established a nice firm foothold in dear old SA. For example, people from front organisation Narconon get quoted in our local newspapers as if they are qualified to talk about drug addiction, and the Kyalami Castle HQ is used by the clueless as a wedding and function venue. If only they knew.