Wednesday, February 28, 2007

today : I feel (genuinely) sorry for some famous people

What has Tom Cruise done wrong? I ask this because whenever his name is mentioned in the media is accompanied by sneering and sometimes jeering, negative personal comments, innuendo and distaste.

A few weeks ago I was watching a comedy show which had a line of stars' dressing rooms. The presenter walked along pointing to them and mentioning who was supposed to be in them. When the camera reached Tom Cruise's room it dipped low, because the star and Tom's name were very close to the floor. The presenter crouched to address the camera and gave a wink. The audience fell about in paroxysms of laughter that left them literally split at the sides. This was only the fifteen thousandth time that they had witnessed a 'joke' about Tom Cruise being smaller in real life than he appears on-screen. Why him? Has he lied about his height consistently and then been found out?

A week or so ago I watched one of those Entertainment/Celebrity shows that featured the editor of some insider gossip mag (y'know the guys who make Danny DeVitos character in LA Confidential look like Bernstein and Woodward). The guy spent five minutes detailing the fact that Cruise had been dropped by his film studio. Apparently, not only had his latest action epic underperformed at the box office, but the studio head disliked him - nay - despised him. On the same show there was footage of Tom and his wife. They were kissing each other. Now I expect people to say in a whiny teenage voice : "EEEUUUWW. GET A ROOM!", which is exactly what the voiceover said, but the presenter in the studio suggested that Tom and his wife's PDA was a little too much. She implied that it was false.

And this, I perceive, is the basis of almost every negative that is thrown at Tom. Falseness. His religion isn't just an unusual one, but it is false, his marriage is clearly a sham and even his child is apparently false.

Tom started out as a teen star, playing good-looking teenagers at the Michael J Fox end of the brat pack. Then he started to get more and more serious. He took up dramas, action movies, historical epics - everything apart from comedy. Some of this he did very well. Some he did less well. Yet somehow he managed to develop his career. I am not a particular fan of his. I neither watch or not watch films because his name is above the titles. Sometimes I think he is very good, other times he is okay. Rarely is he a bad actor.

Each time I see him he seems to be working hard. I can't say I've ever seen him be less than professional. He doesn't do lots of interviews, but in interviews he pays attention and answers the questions. He makes an effort. On the red carpet the footage shows him spending hours chatting to fans, signing autographs, phoning their grannies on cell-phones and paying them attention. In fact, he does everything a movie star should, and he does it way better than average.

So why do people hate him so? Why is all they want to talk about and talk 'around' is that he is short and gay. Do these gossip insiders and celebrity correspondents know something that we don't? Has he got closets that are bulging with deep dark secrets worse than any other Hollywood actor? The impression given is that he is totally and utterly false in every aspect and only they know about it.

For a 'gay' man he has chosen his beards quite well. I imagine Mimi Rogers, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz and Katie Holmes could pretty much have their choice of relationship options (any one of them could give me a call whenever they wanted), yet they chose to play beard to Tom. Nicole even chose to adopt kids as part of the conspiracy. Yes, two of those actresses were foreign talent who subsequently broke through into the Hollywood mainstream, and we have evidence that these things do happen, as with David Copperfield and Claudia Schiffer. But so far, in 20 years, nobody has come up with anything other than hints and allegations.

And do you know what? Even if Cruise is closeted, I don't care. Freedom of sexuality is just another branch of freedom, which includes freedom of expression, privacy and personal choice. It's his choice. If he is bearding up with these women, then it's no more hypocritical than people claiming each other were a delight to work with in junket interviews, no more fraudulent than airbrushing and no more dishonest than Hollywood itself trying to sell us bad actors as good actors and bad films as masterpieces.

If Tom is a murderer or pederast who uses his fame to protect him, then please carry on dragging him down until he is exposed and caught. If, however, he is just an easy target who is reluctant to sue, successful, professional and not even particularly interesting outside of his roles, then why not leave him alone?

I would ask the same about Britney, or 'poor Britney' as she is now known. What has she really done wrong? She's yet another rich young star who for reasons of early success, apparently missed out on growing up. So she starts behaving oddly, rebelling against expectations and possibly suffering depression. I read that she has been taking drugs, partying and drinking. Just like the millions of other young women throughout the world who go out on a Friday night. Perhaps, like the millions of other people suffering depression, she's been self medicating with the drugs, alcohol and unexpected behaviour.

During her time as a popstar Britney has made one or two excellent pop records, put on some decent shows and, like Tom, worked hard and professionally. Has she killed anyone? Has anyone caught her banging her babies' head on the kitchen counter? Does she deserve photographers following her around ALL the time? I don't think so. Perhaps some clue lies in the fact that, whilst the public seems to be offering her some sympathy, the celebrity pundits appear delighted by her troubles. I know that many of them are talented and successful in their own right, and don't mean it to appear so, but sometimes it comes across as a little like jealousy.

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