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August 4, 2014 10:18 AM   Subscribe

LA Weekly Film Critic Amy Nicholson offers a contrarian take on Tom Cruise's famous couch-jumping moment in How YouTube and Internet Journalism Destroyed Tom Cruise, Our Last Real Movie Star — arguing that the events of 2005 irrevocably changed our relationship with celebrity, and that Cruise's career as a serious actor was a major casualty. You've seen it, too. You can probably picture it in your head: Tom Cruise, dressed in head-to-toe black, looming over a cowering Oprah as he jumps up and down on the buttermilk-colored couch like a toddler throwing a tantrum. Cruise bouncing on that couch is one of the touchstones of the last decade, the punchline every time someone writes about his career. There's just one catch: It never happened.
posted by wensink (95 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have to dispute the article's premise that the type of role Tom Cruise took before the 2005 Oprah show differs in any meaningful way from the type of role he's taken since.

I can't really believe that the types of roles Nicholson apparently claims show that Cruise was some sort of serious actor (Minority Report, Collateral, Eyes Wide Shut, etc.) are just simply not available to him anymore. From this moviegoer's perspective, they're effectively the same as his roles in, say, Valkyrie, Edge of Tomorrow, or Lions for Lambs.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:27 AM on August 4 [8 favorites]


The distinction between standing and jumping is small but significant. We imagine Cruise bouncing on the couch — we can even picture it — because the Internet convinced us it happened.

If this is not a man jumping on a couch, I don't know what to tell you, Amy.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:29 AM on August 4 [43 favorites]


I was going to post that same clip. The author wants to argue he wasn't jumping up and down, I guess, but just goes too far.
posted by smackfu at 10:30 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


So...this is the least edited video of the incident I could find. It's true that Cruise doesn't "jump up and down" on the couch. On the other hand, he does jump up onto the couch. So "Tom Cruise jumps on Oprah's couch" is true; Tom Cruise jumps up and down on Oprah's couch" is not. In other news: meh.
posted by yoink at 10:30 AM on August 4 [4 favorites]


You've seen it, too. You can probably picture it in your head: Tom Cruise, dressed in head-to-toe black, looming over a cowering Oprah as he jumps up and down on the buttermilk-colored couch

I can picture it because there's a photo at the top of the article.

There's just one catch: It never happened.

Say what? What is this then?

The distinction between standing and jumping is small but significant.

You've got to be kidding me.
posted by the jam at 10:31 AM on August 4 [17 favorites]


Say what? What is this then?

That's him landing from having jumped up onto the couch. It's not jumping "up and down" on the couch. As to how earth shattering the difference between those things is I leave that to you to decide, but there is, clearly, a difference.
posted by yoink at 10:33 AM on August 4


Well if the internet has destroyed Tom Cruise then hopefully it can deal with Scientology in due course as well.
posted by colie at 10:33 AM on August 4 [24 favorites]


Besides this bananas-crazy-a-go-go Scientology video is what really made people squirm in my memory.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:34 AM on August 4 [26 favorites]


Since his career having been ruined, poor Tom Cruise has had to resort to starring in MI3 ($150M budget), Lions for Lambs (alongside Robert Redford and Meryl Streep, $35M), Valkyrie ($75M), Knight and Day ($117M), MI4 ($145M), Jack Reacher ($60M), Oblivion ($120M), Edge of Tomorrow ($178M).

I suspect you'd find no shortage of actors literally willing to kill for their careers to be that ruined.
posted by Zed at 10:34 AM on August 4 [43 favorites]


This was a crucial moment for me in realizing how influenced a lot of people are by the media and popular opinion. Before the couch incident, Tom Cruise was insanely popular. Afterwards, everyone suddenly didn't like him, because he jumped on a couch. I remember it annoyed the crap out of me how people changed their minds that quickly. If an actor I really liked had some minor "crisis" like that, I hope I wouldn't suddenly turn on him or her.
posted by ChuckRamone at 10:35 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


We're really getting into "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" territory here.
posted by the jam at 10:35 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


I don't think people really care whether he jumped up or down or not. Dude jumped on the couch and it was hella weird.
posted by todayandtomorrow at 10:37 AM on August 4 [13 favorites]


The Internet responds.
posted by kewb at 10:38 AM on August 4


Huh. I thought it was Will Smith.
posted by Melismata at 10:38 AM on August 4


I am very interested in celebrity culture and the idea of the "movie star" in the modern age. And Tom Cruise's story is fascinating as hell and if there's any fairness in the world, we'll get a Sunset Boulevard style look at his odd life when I'm still alive to see it.

But the argument of the article falls apart in a few ways, both micro for the example and macro for "Internet kills the Movie Star.

In this example, Cruise "went down" not just because of fledgling Internet gossip sites but because HE WAS ACTING WEIRD ON THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW. Yes, he may not have jumped on the couch in the way it may seem that people remember it. But in that same reality, Cruise jumping on Oprah's couch just became shorthand. People responded to that whole batshit interview because he was being a freak (if people in the Oprah studios didn't see that, it says more about their bubble than our reality) and when you match that with the "pretty much accepted as fact by most people who are interested in celebrity gossip" arrangement that led to he and Katie Holmes getting together -- plus all the recent-at-that-time public feuding about anti-depressants. Yes, it had a life on the Internet -- a much larger life. But I, a person who, you may have noticed, spends a lot of time on the Internet, saw it on The Today Show for the first time, and this was, even though it was just 8 years ago, long before each TV network had their own Carson Daly-esque social media correspondent.

As for the Internet killing our last movie star, nope. It's just that movie stars and celebrities have to present themselves differently. Chris Pratt has had his fans for a long time, and if you judge by the Internet, he's been SUPER BIG TIME LOVED for a while. And now he's the lead in 2 of the biggest movies of the year. He had the built in fans based on social media perceptions, but he's also making that work through the traditional Hollywood channels. Saying Tom Cruise is the last movie star because of the Internet is the publicity-version of saying movie acting ended once they had to do talkies.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:39 AM on August 4 [17 favorites]


movie stars aren't good for us anyway, or themselves. keep on destroyin' them, YT + internet journalists.

and when I say "them", I mean their public images, their "stars" blinding us all with apparently superhuman light, which is bullshit, smoke + mirrors. I personally think Tom Cruise's performance in Collateral was his career best, and I'm pretty sure that was his last movie before the incident where he did jump up, and then jump down, but he didn't jump up + down + up + down.
posted by philip-random at 10:41 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


Tom Cruise being upset he and his publicist can't strong arm the media into doing what they want is the first worldliest First World Problem, ever.
posted by tommasz at 10:41 AM on August 4 [6 favorites]




I heard the author on The Dissolve's latest podcast, promoting her new hagiography book, Tom Cruise: Anatomy of an Actor. She's not nearly as obsequious as the Empire fanboys/girls, but she's pretty damned close.
posted by wensink at 10:45 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


How about Howard Dean's scream for something that was blown all out of proportion? I didn't hear the so-called scream until about six months later and had imagined that it was, well, something. A presidential candidate being taken down for nothing. (Thank God Kerry stepped in)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:47 AM on August 4 [16 favorites]


As a former film student and film critic I feel I can say with some authority: This is film critic horseshit of the clickbait variety.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:48 AM on August 4 [5 favorites]




"The distinction between standing and jumping is small but significant."
Come to metafilter, Amy! You'll be right at home here.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:53 AM on August 4 [13 favorites]


How about Howard Dean's scream for something that was blown all out of proportion? I didn't hear the so-called scream until about six months later and had imagined that it was, well, something.

The scream thing depends a lot on which audio you hear. The big problem with the original soundbite (screambite?) was that they used a mike that was heavily targeted on Dean himself and hardly picked up any of the ambient noise. It did make him sound kinda deranged. When you hear it along with the raucous crowd noise that he's shouting over it's a giant nothing burger.
posted by yoink at 10:53 AM on August 4 [7 favorites]


"The distinction between standing and jumping is small but significant."

Mexicanjumpingbeanplating.
posted by yoink at 10:54 AM on August 4 [4 favorites]


Just out of frame of that picture is the spray bottle that Oprah keeps on the set to discourage guests from jumping up onto the couches or countertops.
posted by dr_dank at 10:56 AM on August 4 [13 favorites]


Is this where I can post my favorite Tom Cruise animated gif?

Also, I wish sometime they'd just drop the facade and name the movies he's in after himself. I wouldn't see a movie called Jack Reacher, but I'd sure go see if it was called Tom Cruise Movie, and no matter what he was in next would be Tom Cruise 2, and so on.
posted by yeti at 10:56 AM on August 4 [13 favorites]


Yeah I'd say it's more the appearance of the animated gif than YouTube that made us all (well, me) think that Tom Cruise had bounced maniacally on Oprah's couch for three whole minutes. Now that I know it was only a single, chaste, hop I'm having to reevaluate all of my opinions about Tom Cruise.
posted by Flashman at 11:00 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


On the Media talked to Nicholson recently too about this, and she was no more convincing when trying to explain this to Brooke Gladstone. I don't know how major a publication LA Weekly is, but I was surprised how Nicholson was willing to come across as an unabashed apologist for Cruise, who it seems to me hardly needs her support in his career.
posted by aught at 11:01 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]


Well it is kind of shocking to realize how different the original is from the infinite looping gif in my memory. To say it never happened is a stretch. As is the claim that his career was ruined. Every time he comes out with a movie I'm always a little surprised he's still out there doing his Tom Cruise thing like nothing happened.
posted by bleep at 11:09 AM on August 4


This is pharmaceutical-grade irony: by repeatedly insisting that something that obviously did happen didn't (or nitpicking over whether he's "jumping" or not), Nicholson is putting herself in the position of being labeled a clickbait-monger at best or a stealth shill for Scientology at worst. Whatever her motivation, it's simply absurd that the video broke Tom Cruise's career in any significant way. I think that Cruise may have been limited in what he does in movies both by his relatively limited range (Born on the Fourth of July was probably the outer limits of that range, as well as being the most Oscar-baity of his filmography) and by a lot of little things over the years--being a really big star into Scientology when most of their "celebrity" list consists of has-beens and also-rans (Travolta also draws attention precisely for this reason), not so much being selective with press as seeming to try to actively avoid them, the gay rumors (which dovetails pretty nicely with Bronson Pinchot's account of him being pointedly homophobic on the Risky Business set)--all of them connected by that flat, hostile stare that seems to be his default expression.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:09 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]


fwiw Edge of Tomorrow was really entertaining and TC's best since...War of the Worlds. Or M:I III.

Actually, now that I look at his filmography, there are really only four or five stinkers in a career that spans 37 films. And, holy crap, I've seen 34 Tom Cruise movies?!
posted by wensink at 11:10 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]


I too think the bananas Scientology clip had more to do with the current perception of Cruise. Also, "jumping" notwithstanding, he is acting BONKERS in that Oprah clip. I just watched the next fifteen seconds after the couch-hop and had to turn it off from discomfort. It wasn't a silly moment in an otherwise normal interview by any means.
posted by youarenothere at 11:13 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


This is pharmaceutical-grade irony: by repeatedly insisting that something that obviously did happen didn't (or nitpicking over whether he's "jumping" or not), Nicholson is putting herself in the position of being labeled a clickbait-monger at best or a stealth shill for Scientology at worst.

Yeah, the article won't change my opinion of Cruise, but I certainly came away with a poor opinion of the author.
posted by winna at 11:14 AM on August 4 [10 favorites]


I don't think people really care whether he jumped up or down or not. Dude jumped on the couch and it was hella weird.

I'm probably one of the few people in the world who didn't think it was that weird, or at least not the kind of weird that someone doesn't get a pass on occasionally in life.

I do think him going on about Scientology and calling Matt Lauer "glib" and going after Brooke Shields for taking antidespressents was probably more damaging to his image.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:15 AM on August 4 [8 favorites]


This article was published in 2005: "Tom Cruise and Scientology" (LA Times). "The bond between the star and his spiritual leader was evident last year when the two traded effusive words and crisp salutes at a Scientology gala in England."

Cruise's emergence as a Scientologist and the subsequent impact on his career (and public opinion towards him) would make an interesting article.
posted by stbalbach at 11:15 AM on August 4


This writer wants us to agree that Tom Cruise jumping on the couch "never happened" based on the "small but significant" difference between him jumping up onto the couch, versus jumping up and down on the couch. Meh, either way he was acting loopy.

Meanwhile, other small-but-significant details of technology are described in a kind of weirdly inaccurate way, to my ear. [bold emphases below are mine]

Camera phones finally outsold brick phones, turning civilians into paparazzi.

Didn't "brick phone" enter the language as a verb, to brick your phone, i.e. fuck up the smartphone badly enough that it won't boot? I see from a search that old mobile phones have be retronymed as "brick" phones, but I always understood the distinction to be smartphones vs not-smartphone, rather than cameraphones vs non-cameraphones.

Lavanderia — better known by his pseudonym, Perez Hilton — wasn't tech-savvy. His apartment in L.A., where he'd moved after graduation, didn't even have Wi-Fi.

Uh, is she trying to say that he didn't have internet access, or...his apartment came with internet service but not a router...or what? We're talking 2004 or so here. Wifi was just beginning to become a standard option for computers. (My 2004 iMac did not have an Airport card.)
posted by desuetude at 11:18 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]


The article raised some interesting points about internet journalism post-youtube and celebrity bloggers, and the comments here are insightful and amusing. I find I have nothing to add besides

HOLY SHIT THAT WAS NEARLY TEN YEARS AGO??

I'll see myself out
posted by billiebee at 11:18 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


It's really a shame how he's been treated. Cruise wasn't even capable of performing a Force Lightning attack until 2008.
posted by theodolite at 11:18 AM on August 4 [14 favorites]


All I know is that if I did that when I was a kid my mom would have told me no jumping on the couch. I don't think a 7-page article in LA Weekly arguing that jumping onto a couch is somehow different from jumping on a couch would have swayed her.
posted by ckape at 11:19 AM on August 4 [6 favorites]


Valkyrie was surprisingly good.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:20 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]


Scientology apologist. Over-exuberant and crackpot proselytizing re: mental illness & drug therapy. Full-on inferiority complex about his height. Cruise pretty much did it all himself. Unless you think the media shouldn't cover celebrities so extensively. I guess I could behind that.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:23 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]


The off-putting kookiness of Tom Cruise as a celebrity predates the '00s. Christian Bale famously based his portrayal in American Psycho on Cruise, after all.

However, the internet definitely had a role in ending Howard Dean's presidential nomination career.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:23 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


MoonOrb, up top: Minority Report, Collateral, Eyes Wide Shut, ... From this moviegoer's perspective, they're effectively the same as his roles in, say, Valkyrie, Edge of Tomorrow, or Lions for Lambs.

Maybe the same to you as a moviegoer, but in Hollywood there's no way that making movies directed by Steven Spielberg, Michael Mann and Stanley Kubrick is "effectively the same as" making them with Bryan Singer, Doug Liman, and Robert Redford. To this day, taking on Eyes Wide Shut (and sticking with it through its extended production) is widely considered one of the boldest, riskiest moves ever made by a major, blockbuster-level movie star. Edge of Tomorrow is a terrific little movie, but Cruise hasn't made a genuinely ambitious film in a long time.
posted by Mothlight at 11:25 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


in Hollywood there's no way that making movies directed by Steven Spielberg, Michael Mann and Stanley Kubrick is "effectively the same as" making them with Bryan Singer, Doug Liman, and Robert Redford.

I'm pretty confused as to what the contrast between these sets of directors is supposed to be. Robert Redford is less of a serious auteur than Spielberg?
posted by psoas at 11:31 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]


Is this where I can post my favorite Tom Cruise animated gif?

There are so many it's hard to choose. I think we can all agree, tho, that Tom Cruise is tergiffic.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:32 AM on August 4


Valkyrie and Jack Reacher were both excellent. They both reminded me of vintage Frankenheimer.

Cruise might be a egomaniac who shills for a cult, but honestly, there are so many worse people out there. It just doesn't faze me.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:34 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


If you had a friend who was madly in love and jumped on the couch, you probably would quite like it.

But isn't the problem here that many suspect that Cruise has his relationships set up by the Scientology movement, and abused Katie Holmes in dark and unknown ways due to his fully confirmed position in this atrocious cult? She had to take legal action due to fears Cruise and his fellow lunatic cult members would actually abduct their child.

The couch-jumping seemed insincere and insane, and that got more or less confirmed in peoples' minds by events that followed.
posted by colie at 11:36 AM on August 4 [8 favorites]


To echo other people, this is exactly what happened with Howard Dean. I was at the speech in Iowa where Howard Dean "screamed." Even though we only got third place (due greatly to Kerry's operatives strong-arming younger Dean caucusers to switch sides, and the agreement between Edwards and Kucinich to throw their support to the other if it seemed they weren't viable), we were proud of how well we did do. It was deafening in there, you couldn't hear a word he was saying we were cheering so loud.

When I woke up the next day after such an exhilarating night, the woman I was rooming with was crestfallen and she told me what was happening on the media. I have NEVER been so disillusioned as I was that night. It still resonates with me today. This story just reminds me of how awful the Internet and media can really be, and why I've been more and more cynical about it lately.
posted by tittergrrl at 11:36 AM on August 4 [36 favorites]


This is a bizarre article. Nicholson wants two things (for whatever reason): to deny that Cruise jumped on the couch (as opposed to 'onto the couch'), and then to make the reader believe that jumping onto the couch was completely reasonable. Thus:
If you track down the full Tom Cruise episode on YouTube...the room is deafening. Oprah's first words to the live audience are, "OK. Let me just say you all are going to have to calm yourselves." They don't. They're on their feet jumping up and down. She has to ask them to settle down twice more before Cruise even walks onstage, and then the screams get even louder. Oprah starts screaming, too. If you listen closely, you can hear Cruise says, "Wow! Is it like this every day?" "No," Oprah says, shaking her head. After a full minute goes by, Oprah starts to look annoyed. "It's too much," she commands the audience. "Sit down, sit down."

Like a gladiator at the Coliseum, Cruise plays to that screaming room. When a fan in the crowd pumps both his fists in the air, Cruise pumps his back. When kneeling on the floor makes the audience holler, he simply keeps doing it.
But Cruise is not a gladiator and he is not at the Coliseum. He is but one of talk show guests innumerable, and within that context his behavior -- his entire behavior, not simply the bit with the couch -- was, well, weird. It was weird contextually, and people think it was weird because it was weird, not because of the distorting lens of the internet.

Nicholson wants the energy of the room to excuse Cruise's behavior, but by her own explanation the crowd's excitement does not arise from nothing -- Cruise himself "plays to the screaming room" -- he works to built their excitement up, not to tamp it down. And the entire interview was weird -- as Nicholson later writes, "When she continues pressing about if he wants to marry Holmes, he exhales, "I'm standing on your couch!" as if that's the answer he thought was enough"

...

Separately, I read this back in May, and my initial thought was that my memory is very different from Nicholson. She writes:

We imagine Cruise bouncing on the couch — we can even picture it — because the Internet convinced us it happened. The echoing blogosphere screaming "Kills!" and "Jumps!" rewrote over what little of the actual episode people saw.

My memory was of Cruise jumping onto the couch and then jumping off of the couch. Reading this piece felt a bit like being gaslighted -- am I supposed to have believed he bounced on the couch? Is that a thing that people believe? Have I been wrong in thinking that Cruise was weird for jumping onto the couch, and have conversation in which people talked about him jumping on the couch meant something completely different than what I thought they did?

But no: this is simply a flimsy piece of a apologia. Particularly this:

Except Cruise never jumps on a couch. It is Oprah who seeds the idea that he should stand on it..."I turned and looked at one point and you were standing in the chair going, 'Yes! Yes!' " she gushes to Cruise. "I loved that enthusiasm." Minutes later, he stands on the couch for a second, and after she and the audience cheer that, he does it again. When she continues pressing about if he wants to marry Holmes, he exhales, "I'm standing on your couch!" as if that's the answer he thought was enough.

How does he get onto the couch? He jumps onto the couch. This is evident from the full clip, which Nicholson suggests that we watch and then chooses to ignore. She could simply say 'and then Cruise jumped onto the couch' and expand on the distinction between the looped gif of him bouncing and what actually happened, and that might be a reasonable critique ala the Howard Dean scream -- but she doesn't. Instead, she won't stand for any suggestion that he jumps at all -- he simply 'stands on' the couch. How does he get there? It is a mystery. If only there was some sort of video recording of the event!
posted by cjelli at 11:38 AM on August 4 [12 favorites]


Christian Bale famously based his portrayal in American Psycho on Cruise, after all.

What? Really? Learn something new every day.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:38 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


Wait now I just want to watch Collateral again.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:42 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


He is jumping on the couch. This article is a silly fabrication, itself guilty of fashioning the lies that it accuses the internet of. It's garbage. You ask a random person about Cruise now, and nobody ever says he's a bad actor or that his career was dead. This is a pop culture position looking for a story, a devil's advocate so banal that I doubt any of us made it further than 2 pages in. I certainly didn't.
posted by cellphone at 11:49 AM on August 4 [5 favorites]


Apocryphon : Christian Bale famously based his portrayal in American Psycho on Cruise, after all.

Kiiiindaa... but not necessarily all that much. Sounds like it was mostly Nicholas Cage in Vampire's Kiss, not Tom Cruise though Cruise on Letterman was at least some influence. From Wikipedia:

"To prepare for the role, Bale spoke to Harron on the phone about "how Martian-like Patrick Bateman was, how he was looking at the world like somebody from another planet, watching what people did and trying to work out the right way to behave". During their conversations, he told her that he had seen Tom Cruise on David Letterman's talk show and Harron related that Bale was struck by the movie star's "very intense friendliness with nothing behind the eyes, and he was really taken with this energy."[5] Bale also used Nicolas Cage's performance in Vampire's Kiss as inspiration for this role, as the two characters are strikingly similar.[6]"
posted by tittergrrl at 11:50 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


If you had a friend who was madly in love and jumped on the couch, you probably would quite like it.

On my couch? No.

That said, his over the top affirmation of love for Ms. Holmes was the weird part.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:08 PM on August 4 [6 favorites]


From the article:
Like a gladiator at the Coliseum, Cruise plays to that screaming room.

More like "Like a gladiator at the Coliseum - ON MDMA."
posted by jnnla at 12:09 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


Well how else do you convey to Oprah that you just met a girl you want to have totally heterosexual coitus with

I mean really people
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:15 PM on August 4 [26 favorites]


Mental Wimp: "Scientology apologist. Over-exuberant and crackpot proselytizing re: mental illness & drug therapy. Full-on inferiority complex about his height. Cruise pretty much did it all himself."

Divorcing pre-botox Nicole Kidman! NICOLE KIDMAN. And always making her wear flats on the red carpet. And then picking up another very young actress (Kidman was 22 when they got together; Holmes was 27 and Cruise was 43? 44?) to My-Fair-Lady into his life. The obviously PR-arranged dating of Penelope Cruz in between (remember all the "Cruise & Cruz" headlines? Vanilla Sky era, I want to say). The divorce from Nicole Kidman was when public opinion started to turn and people started disliking him, especially when Kidman (who appeared totally blindsided in the press) made really just one famous off-the-cuff comment, the understated, funny, and devastating-to-Cruise, "At least now I can wear heels." He came off looking mean to his wife and his kids' mom; he came off looking controlling and insecure. She seemed shellshocked but bearing up, with just the tiniest hint of sarcasm. Dating Katie Holmes, who talked about how she had a poster of him in her room as an adolescent (ugggggggh) was just. so. wildly. creepy. Katie Holmes is MY AGE. Tom Cruise was a movie star adored by my MOM'S friends. IT WAS GROSS ALL ON ITS OWN.

I have not really even ever given a shit about Tom Cruise, and that's the narrative *I* got from the media. People didn't like the story where he divorced his wife of over a decade, and then later took up with a younger model starlet. And in that clip you can see the totally unflappable Oprah cringing; that's almost the worst part. Oprah could smoothly handle any human emotion because she was OPRAH, but that was too weird even for her.

(Also, I refuse to live in a world where J.Law is not a "real movie star.")
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:20 PM on August 4 [23 favorites]


I had always assumed that Cruise was just another over-rated pretty-boy actor, but he was rather compelling in 'Magnolia', partly because the role was an intriguing fit for his style.

One interesting point the article touches on is the transition away from having a ruthless press agent almost running his career, coinciding with the changes in the structure of entertainment journalism happening at the time.

And that Howard Dean thing, I remember it being really odd at the time. I woke up one morning and everyone in the news media had just decided for us that Dean was finished. It smelled like some conspiracy from The X-Files had happened.
posted by ovvl at 12:26 PM on August 4 [10 favorites]


And always making her wear flats on the red carpet.

TBF, that's absolutely rational advice. Her knees will thank him later.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:29 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


People didn't like the story where he divorced his wife of over a decade, and then later took up with a younger model starlet.

I don't really think that was the part people reacted to. If that was what killed careers we'd all be sitting in the cinema watching a lot of blank screens. And it's not like he left Kidman for Holmes. Personally it was the Scientology stuff that changed how I thought about him. The couch jumping (or whatever) just seemed to confirm he'd lost the plot.
posted by billiebee at 12:33 PM on August 4 [4 favorites]


I think it's really rare for someone in Hollywood to have a career that spans as long as Cruise's has without some kind of drama. And I agree that he is surprisingly talented - I thought he was terrific in Magnolia.

I was a volunteer for Howard Dean's campaign in New Hampshire. The primary was maybe a week after the Iowa caucus, after which he "screamed." I was volunteering about 12 hours a day, more as the primary approached, so I totally missed out on the scream and its significance. My boyfriend tried to explain but it didn't make sense. I read what he said and thought it sounded awesome. I remember making phone calls in the evening before the primary and someone said they would not vote for him because he behaved like a child and I really could not understand what they were talking about. I think more than a month later, I still didn't get it. No regrets though - I thought he was the bee's knees. I don't know that I'll ever feel that way about a candidate again. What an adventure.
posted by kat518 at 12:39 PM on August 4 [8 favorites]


Nicholson brushes up against some interesting edges in her discussion of the launch of YouTube and its impact on celebrity journalism and, less convincingly, on Cruise's career, but she could've gone further. Tom hopped on O's couch in May 2005. Less than one month later, he had to deal with this wanker, impersonating a journo on the red carpet at the UK premiere of War of the Worlds. Cruise's response was...remarkable.
posted by wensink at 12:59 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]


Forget the jumping on the couch; the truly weird part was that game of Mercy he started playing with Oprah right then and there. Because jumping onto/up and down on a couch for the love of a woman? Sure, totally within the bounds of expectation. Prompting a spontaneous game of Mercy with Oprah Winfrey? That was a bit off.

And Tom Cruise's career is doing just fine, last I checked. He keeps getting hired, he keeps making mountains of money. His critics didn't turn on him because of the Oprah couch incident; it was Scientology. I thought everyone was on the same page where this was concerned. It's his belonging to a culty pyramid scheme that makes him seem unbalanced; not his activities with TV studio furniture.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 1:03 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]


The couch thing was really just a catalyst for people talking about all the weird scientology shit that Tom Cruise was involved in. His whole split with Nicole Kidman and 'relationship' with Katie Holmes was weird weird weird. The couch was just whipped cream on a scientology sundae.
posted by empath at 1:18 PM on August 4 [6 favorites]


I like him and he's a great actor, but it really is a shame about the Scientology nonsense.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:26 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


SP!
posted by wensink at 1:32 PM on August 4 [4 favorites]


Personally it was the Scientology stuff that changed how I thought about him.

Honestly, you can be a Scientologist and not be awful (Jenna Elfman, Beck, loads of non-famous people I'm sure...).

But to be besties with David Miscavige, like Cruise? I'm sorry, you have to be at least a bit of a shit.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:53 PM on August 4 [4 favorites]


And Tom Cruise's career is doing just fine, last I checked. He keeps getting hired, he keeps making mountains of money. His critics didn't turn on him because of the Oprah couch incident; it was Scientology. I thought everyone was on the same page where this was concerned. It's his belonging to a culty pyramid scheme that makes him seem unbalanced; not his activities with TV studio furniture.

What will be really interesting to see will be how Tom handles Scientology's inevitable & fairly immanent collapse. He's practically welded himself not just to the cult but to its leader David Miscavige quite personally. Income & membership trends have been crashing for years; even a billion dollar cult has limits. When the money & people are all gone & the questions mount, will Tom burn through his remaining reputation (& fortune) to serve as a final firewall to deny reality, Scientology's own Baghdad Bob?
posted by scalefree at 2:02 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]



And that Howard Dean thing, I remember it being really odd at the time. I woke up one morning and everyone in the news media had just decided for us that Dean was finished. It smelled like some conspiracy from The X-Files had happened.


That was my feeling, too. It was pretty ridiculous and disappointing.
posted by sweetkid at 2:18 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


My favorite Inside the Actors Studio moment is when an audience member starts her question with the pronouncement, "Tom Cruise, thank you for your art."
posted by hyperizer at 2:22 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


I admire the article at the heart of the FPP: it's as fine a piece of contrarianism as any flat-earth lecture on orbital dynamics. "Why do people believe this video is of a man jumping on a sofa?" is a very good caption for a video of a man jumping on a sofa. It captures something of the digital zeitgeist, where those who bemoan the lack of a fiction genre the Internet can truly call its own are dismayed that one is appearing. Plus, CruiseLOLZ!

Cruise isn't the first celeb to go nutzoid in there. It can't be easy, being forced to wear a veil and then having to be good-humoured when a thousand grubby fingers try to get inside. And, frankly, I care far less about the polychromatic psychopathies of the stars than, oh, reading a 19th century treatise on peat. (One of these things, I did this evening.)

It really is the scientology that gets me. You can be as baroquely bonkers as you like, but if you're giving money and support to that lot, you'll get none from me.
posted by Devonian at 2:25 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


Didn't "brick phone" enter the language as a verb, to brick your phone, i.e. fuck up the smartphone badly enough that it won't boot?

I heard it used years and years ago to refer to the hilariously huge old 80s cellphones a la Miami Vice.
posted by elizardbits at 2:28 PM on August 4 [6 favorites]


That was my feeling, too. It was pretty ridiculous and disappointing.

This is one I just didn't get either. I wasn't a Dean supporter, but the response just seemed bizarre and disproportionate. I think part of my "not getting" why people think Cruise and Dean were so weird was that, really, have you looked closely at the people you live with on a regular basis? Crazy, unrefined stuff comes out of our mouths all the time, and we assume that real people just have off days, and we cut some slack. When we hold up politicians and movie stars to an unrealistic standard of refinement -- because TV has trained us to expect whatever is on it to be produced picture perfect -- we get these kinds of analyses of people that prattle on about being weird when really, we're all pretty weird if you get past the highlight reel of our lives.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:39 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]


You know, I found this article persuasive. Reading through it, I could feel my mind changing. Now, I kind of accept that Cruise was the victim.

It's taken nearly ten years. Longer, really, if you count all the years since Risky Business. All that time to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the actor's gaze. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! I feel like I'm going to cry. But it's all right, everything is all right, the struggle is finished. I've won a victory over myself. I love Tom Cruise.

Why are you all harassing such a great man? He must be protected. Tom Cruise will save us. Defend Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise is the messiah.
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:40 PM on August 4 [3 favorites]


Too many Suppressive People commenting in this thread.
posted by Flashman at 3:02 PM on August 4 [12 favorites]


Actually I am an Operating Thetan.
posted by colie at 3:02 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]


you can be a Scientologist and not be awful

Come on. No. You can be a Republican or a member of the Conservative Party perhaps and not be awful. But Scientology is as far gone as it gets in awfulness.
posted by colie at 3:05 PM on August 4


Too many Suppressive People commenting in this thread.

Only a Potential Trouble Source would make such a claim.
posted by wensink at 3:05 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


Didn't "brick phone" enter the language as a verb, to brick your phone, i.e. fuck up the smartphone badly enough that it won't boot?

Nope. Brick phones were the second generation of widely available cellphones, so named because they were about the size & shape of a brick. The first gen were typically called bag phones among telecom types & phone phreaks because you needed a shoulder bag to carry them around.
posted by scalefree at 3:07 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]


Come on. No. You can be a Republican or a member of the Conservative Party perhaps and not be awful. But Scientology is as far gone as it gets in awfulness.

Agreed. There are nice people who get involved in Scientology. But once you're in, the cult's indoctrination overlays your natural personality with the cult mindset which encourages all sorts of antisocial behavior at the service of the cult; ego inflation or destruction depending on the situation, deception of self & others, manipulation, coercion, suppression of natural emotions. Celebrities tend not to be exposed to the worst of it because they get coddled to keep them happy so more of their natural personality will shine through. But nice people don't last long in the cult; they change & adopt the cult personality or get used up & burn out.
posted by scalefree at 3:30 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]


scalefree: "Nope. Brick phones were the second generation of widely available cellphones, so named because they were about the size & shape of a brick."

Fair enough, though I don't personally remember them being called that at the time, more in retrospect.

Regardless, it is not an accurate description of the dividing line of when cameras became fairly commonplace in cellphones.
posted by desuetude at 3:38 PM on August 4


There are nice people who get involved in Scientology. But

what scalefree just said, except perhaps those born into the org like Beck. Do we demand that they sever all ties with their families in order to not be viewed as creepy? Though that said, Beck did hang up on Nardwuar.
posted by philip-random at 3:41 PM on August 4


i think any time family is involved it becomes difficult - for instance, (former scientologist) neil gaiman, in an interview given in the last year or so, almost answered a question about the church before taking a breath and saying, "i love my family."


but, as for tom cruise specifically, who used the church to poison the relationship between his kids and their mother, and who is best buddies with david "no i promise my wife is safe and sound even though no one has actually seen her in years" miscavige - no, he is not a good person and that's before we even get into how he spoke publicly and loudly against receiving treatment and medication for post partum depression. the couch isn't the reason a lot of people don't like him and are creeped out by him.

still, i loved him in magnolia - if only because that part seemed to come so naturally to him.
posted by nadawi at 3:52 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


the whole jumping on the couch thing reminds me of a conversation between me and my children, after I had heard bed-jumping noises coming from my bedroom. My children are expressly forbidden from jumping on my bed.

Kathryn: "What are you doing?"

Daughter: "Why do you ask?"

Kathryn: "Are you jumping on my bed?"

Daughter: "That depends on what you mean by jumping."

Kathryn: "Knowing as you do that I don't like it when you jump on my bed, if I had seen what you were doing, would I have been mad?"

Daughter: "Well, Mom, I don't know, I can't read your mind."
posted by KathrynT at 5:50 PM on August 4 [25 favorites]




The term "brick phone" originally applied specifically to the first 2nd-generation cellular mobile phone, the Motorola DynaTAC. It weighed approximately one kilogram and was the approximate size of a standard North American brick, hence brick phone, at the time an affectionate nickname. (The phone is so distinctive a marker of its era that when the X-Files did a flashback sequence for the episode "Unusual Suspects", practically the only production design change they made was having Mulder carry a brick instead of his habitual flip phone. It made me laugh out loud.)

The separate origin of the verb "brick" is recorded in the jargon file and has been used, probably since the 1970s or so, to refer to turning any piece of electronics into a "warm brick". No relationship.
posted by dhartung at 11:38 PM on August 4 [4 favorites]


Edge of Tomorrow was one of my favorite movies this year, and of course Magnolia was magnificent.

There's something to be said about us not having movie stars like we used to. Sure, Chris Pratt is in two of the biggest movies of the year. But he's not making huge paydays here. People just don't go out to see the latest Chris Pratt movie like they do the latest Marvel movie, or even like maybe they used to see the latest Tom Cruise movie. The idea of seeing a movie because of it's star has kinda dwindled. Yeah, Cruise has done lots of movies since the Couch. They've made OK money. They're not blockbusters.

I think the only true movie star left might be Robert Downey Jr, and only for Iron Man.

Now, my weirdest theory has always been that, in the wake of the Couch , MI:3 made something like 60 to 100M less than it would have. People just don't go to aspirational movies for someone they don't aspire to be. That's real money though, enough so that the real force that spread the news -- not the Internet, but the celebrity rags -- got themselves their own coterie of stars to harass. Famous for nothing is real short for safe to attack.

Which is a long way of saying Tom Cruise created Paris Hilton.
posted by effugas at 3:50 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]


The idea of seeing a movie because of it's star has kinda dwindled.

I think it's very much in force where comedies are concerned, and people will set out to see "the new Will Ferrell movie" or, gods help us, "the new Adam Sandler flick."
posted by kewb at 5:44 AM on August 5


I mean here's the thing-- if Kubrick were to make Eyes Wide Shut today, who would he get to play Bill such that you would immediately go 'Huh, really? Wow, that sounds interesting' in that way that happened with Cruise? Who would Anderson cast as the sleazoid Frank TJ Mackie in Magnolia whose enormous star power and leading-man history lends all sorts of terrifying and fascinating subtext to the character?

I think that kind of stuff is what informs the 'last movie star' thing.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:15 AM on August 5 [2 favorites]


whose enormous star power and leading-man history lends all sorts of terrifying and fascinating subtext to the character?

good point. Call it stuntcasting for lack of a better of term, where the performer's reputation/persona very much informs how she/he will be interpreted in a particular role, which, if played right, makes for the possibility of Big Deal Surprise.

One of the great examples (for me anyway) was Henry Fonda's Frank in Once Upon A Time In the West. Viewed from a meta-level, you could say that the director (in this case Sergio Leone) wasn't just playing with the various dynamics in the script (and the personality etc of the actor) but with the culture itself.

But I'd happily give all this up in return for a cinema where most of the faces I encounter are unknown (or certainly not overly familiar) and thus, it's the material itself I'm responding to -- not EGO with the ten million dollar trailer, the three personal chefs (one for each meal) etc.
posted by philip-random at 8:46 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]


I've always thought of Cruise as this generation's Charlten Heston. Capable, reliable but dull and predictable. Nothing special...
posted by judson at 9:06 AM on August 5 [2 favorites]


I've always thought of Cruise as this generation's Charlten Heston. Capable, reliable but dull and predictable. Nothing special…

And a mouthpiece for an odious organization.
posted by kewb at 6:32 PM on August 5 [10 favorites]


I think the only true movie star left might be Robert Downey Jr, and only for Iron Man.

He is apparently now accompanied at all times by his special crystals and a crystal healing employee to assist him in consulting them. And he's right wing.

I bet the Scientologists are rubbing their hands in anticipation...
posted by colie at 4:11 AM on August 6


...isn't buttermilk white?
posted by Sys Rq at 6:47 PM on August 27


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