Posts about Culture

Scientology: Bad for business?

Ever since the days of Fatty Arbuckle, Hollywood studios have worried about how the personal affairs of their stars would affect their business. The first impulse was always to cover up. But when you couldn’t do that, you ran away.

The canning of Tom Cruise is unusually and perhaps refreshingly public. Paramount mogul Sumner Redstone told the Journal that he was firing Cruise for acting crazy and stumping for Scientology.

This morning on Howard Stern, Elijah Blue Allman talked about Scientology since his mom, Cher, dated the young Mr. Cruise and since Sonny Bono was also a Scientologist. Allman said it started as an effort to have a Hollywood version of the Masons: a club with a secret handshake. But clearly, it is more than that. I wonder, though, whether stars will start tiptoeing away if the realize that their “religion” could cost them at the box office.

I would like to think that we have reached the end of our cultural rope with stars acting crazy and all their entourages being afraid to tell them they’re nuts. Tom Cruise. Michael Jackson. Mel Gibson. I’d like to think that, but I doubt it.

: LATER: Nikki Finke gets mad a Paramount for urging the dogs on. I disagree. It’s time for Hollywood to start expecting sanity.

: LATER STILL: The HuffingtonPost continues its surprisingly rousing defense of Scientology.

And just what are the scornable consequences that Scientology has fostered?

That car bomb planted by Sunni insurgents in Iraq against innocent Shia?
The Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, the pogroms, the Holocaust?
The atrocities committed against Christians and animists in the Sudan?
The wars between Hindu and Buddhist in Sri Lanka?
The several decades of religious wars in Northern Ireland?
The mutual bloodshed in Lebanon?

Oh, and was it Scientologists who flew planes into the World Trade Center?


Music causes pregnancy, disease, war

Last night on network news and today on the morning shows, I heard the laziest, most misleading and sensationalistic “reporting” about music and sex. You probably heard it, too: Rand study in Pediatrics says that raunchy lyrics lead to sex.

Lock up the kids! Elvis is in the house!

I was wishing for the guys from Freakonomics to take them on and, by golly, they did. Repeat after me: This is about correlation not causality. There is no way to provide that lyrics cause sex.

But these TV reports didn’t even acknowledge that. They didn’t go to anyone who would point that out. No, that would ruin a good tease. And they call this journalism?

U.S. class, U.K. crass

Ain’t this just a loverly turn:

This year’s Emmy Awards, to be held on August 27 in Los Angeles, prove that British television executives have become astonishingly good at selling Americans the shamelessly downmarket fare that we once imported from the US.

In the reality competitions category, three of the five nominations are of British origin: American Idol, the creation of Simon Fuller, with Simon Cowell on the panel of judges; Dancing With The Stars, an overhauled version of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing; and Survivor, the brainchild of British expat Mark Burnett.

In contrast, the highbrow categories are full of American shows popular in Britain, such as The Sopranos, 24 and The West Wing. . . .

We’ve outclassed the cousins.

Vanity Fair, Class of ’06

Parents are paying to airbrush their kids’ yearbook pictures.

Disappearing act

So I took my unsuspecting teenage son to see Woody Allen’s Scoop and here’s the funniest part:

The entire audience was geriatric. There wasn’t a person in the theater — in a decent crowd, by the way — who was under 50 and most won’t see 60 again. Not one hair follicle — those left — carried its natural color of youth. My son personally lowered the mean age in the place by 30 years.

I tell you, Woody Allen is the newspaper of film directors: His audience is dying off.

: The movie was cute if twitchy because Allen’s in it. Scarlet Johannson is not as sultry as she was in their last movie; she’s a reporter — a journalism student — and so she has to act awkward and twitchy herself, since reporters are like that, aren’t they? Yes, they are.

But she had her moments as the hardened reporter dame. And in the right light, her hair shone red and she looked like an imitation of none other than Ana Marie Cox. Separated at the casting couch: