Tuesday, May 09, 2006


When I was young, my father told me to never take pleasure in other people's failures. A simple enough principle to abide by, I thought then. In fact, every Passover, during the Seder, my family would even dip their pinkies into the wine while reciting the ten plagues to then only wipe the ten pinkie-clinging droplets onto a plates therein symbolizing that even when we reminisce about the destruction of our worst enemy, we still express a degree of regret and sadness.

Bearing this in mind, I still find it incredibly difficult to not take great pleasure in Tom Cruise's very public breakdown. I know it's so very wrong just as it's wrong to revel in the stories of how rabid frogs attacked the unsuspecting Egyptians. Nevertheless, every time I hear about another Cruise antic, I get a semi-euphoric jolt located deep within my intestines. When I learned that Mission Impossible: III had opened at $10 million less than projected, I took pride in knowing that I personally encouraged some friends to stay home and watch TV, rather than go to the theater and see the movie during its opening weekend.

And when I feel guilty about my anti-Tom platform, I recall Cruise's pungent and smug demeanor, his superstar self-awareness, his exaggerated, unreal laugh, that, in totale, makes me want to play a game I invented called Tom Cruise on Oprah where I'm Tom and he's the couch. There's something about his stare that makes me think if I were able to look into the thoughts circulating around his head, a majority of them would be accompanied by the echoing sentiment, "kill, kill, kill."

And sure, he's a religious zealot...some of my best friends and second cousins are religious zealots. But unlike my friends and cousins, Cruise is obviously threatened by satire, criticism, and any difference of opinion, or rather, South Park. His interview with Matt Lauer and the denouncement of psychotropic medication was just an drop in the insanity bucket, albeit a very large bucket. I'm sure his private self is even more eccentric and off-putting.

I have argued for years that it is simply impossible for someone to be that popular and still maintain his or her sanity. Just look at Mel Gibson. Just look at Julia Roberts. Heck, look at Tom Hanks' recent hair, which screams "insane." What else could explain that completely un-ironic mullet?

Additionally, Cruise's soul-consuming frustration must inevitabley contribute to his mental status. For Cruise to keep his true sexual identity a secret must be even more painful than being married to an ex-WB star that once made out with James Van Der Beek.

As an outspoken disapprover of the tabloid culture, I somehow don't mind it so much when US Weekly has a scoop on Cruise and his placenta-centric menu. It merely confirms my suspicions. I know it's not nice but I can't help it. There's something I find so disingenuine--almost evil--about Cruise. And I'm confident in saying that I am not alone in my unsubstantiated prejudice. Upon hearing the news of Suri Cruise's birth, every one I knew first responded by saying, "poor baby."

And while I can easily sympathize for my religion's worst enemy, I'm still confident in saying that the Egyptians never picked a fight with Brooke Shields.


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