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COMMENTARY

Tom Cruise stars as the boogeyman

In his Scientology promo video, he's got the maniacal laugh and crazy plot down pat.

January 19, 2008|Neely Tucker | Washington Post

Mom! Tom Cruise is scaring people again!

It's on the Internet, this promotional video he did for the Church of Scientology. I guess it's out there because of this new book by Andrew Morton, "Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography."

It was on several sites, but then disappeared on some and reappeared on others.

Gawker.com posted a cease-and-desist letter it said was sent by attorneys representing the church. The letter, according to the site, says the "copyrighted" video was stolen from the church, and demands that it be taken down.

In the video, still posted Friday on Gawker, Cruise is wearing a black turtleneck and talking to an interviewer just off camera -- for nine minutes! -- about how he wants to help and how he's met with "leaders" all over the world and how they want his help, and how Scientology is "wild and woolly" and how he doesn't like people sitting on the sidelines of life, and how he's "canceled that in my area." And he keeps laughing really LOUD and it really doesn't make any sense and he keeps showing all his teeth and barely blinking and I got really scared but I watched the whole thing even if I didn't want to, and now I can't sleep without the light on.

"We are the authorities on getting people off drugs, we are the authorities on the mind, we are the authorities on improving conditions," he says, while "Mission: Impossible"-type music be-bops in the background. "We can rehabilitate criminals. . . . We can bring peace and unite cultures."

Yeah, but what if he really means it?

Like that part when he talks about driving by a traffic accident, and he knows he has to stop, because as a Scientologist, "you know you're the only one who can really help." If you're on the ground there beside the highway, your car totaled, a crowd gathering around, and nobody calls 911 but some guy hollers, "Is Tom Cruise here? Tom?" And what if he is?

He talks a lot about Scientology in stern terms -- "You're on board or you're not on board" -- and says: "Now is the time, OK? Being a Scientologist, people are turning to you, and you better know it. You better know it."

It's not really clear what "it" is, Mom, but we're guessing it has to do with the basics of Scientology.

He doesn't stop there. He starts talking about "suppressive persons!" That's "SPs" in Scientology terminology. These are people who attack or don't like Scientology. Boy, he really doesn't like them.

"They don't come up to me and do that. They won't do it to me. Not to my face. Not anywhere in my vicinity . . . where they feel they can be . . . confronted. They're just not doing it."

But doing what?

We just don't know.

In the clip, which cuts repeatedly to different parts of the same interview, we just don't know almost anything. He speaks in subjects and verbs and almost no direct objects. We don't know who or what he is referring to when he says, his voice dropping to a whisper:

"They said, 'So like, have you met an SP?' " Then he laughs this sort of loud, intense thing, his mouth open, clapping his hands together. "I looked at them, and you know and I thought, what a beautiful thing, because maybe one day it'll be like that. You know what I'm saying? Maybe one day it'll be like that. Wow, SPs, they'll just read about those in history books."

Yeah, yeah. I know. It's just a movie star. It's just something like in the picture show. Can I have a drink of water? I'll try to forget it. I'll try to forget I ever saw it.

But could you leave the light on?

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