Thursday, January 17, 2008
Two days before Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography, a biography of actor Tom Cruise written by journalist Andrew Morton, was released in the United States, a video showing Cruise promoting Scientology was leaked to the Internet. The promotional video appeared on video-sharing sites including YouTube, Gawker.com and radar online.com, and clips from the video were also shown on Wednesday morning talk shows in the United States.
In the 9-minute video produced by the Church of Scientology, Cruise is seen discussing his beliefs while the theme from his Mission: Impossible films plays as background music. Cruise appears wearing a black turtleneck sweater, speaking about his dedication to changing people’s lives. The format of the video appears to be an interview with Cruise, and it is edited with questions cut out. Some of Cruise’s responses end abruptly.
|Being a Scientologist, when you drive past an accident it’s not like anyone else. As you drive past you know you have to do something about it because you know you’re the only one who can help.
Throughout the video, Cruise uses Scientology jargon terms such as “KSW”: “For me, it’s all about KSW.” The term stands for Keeping Scientology Working, which refers to a 10-point letter written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard in 1965 to ensure the organization’s survival. Cruise also discusses “SPs”, or Suppressive Persons, “PTSPs”, a “potential trouble source” influenced by a Suppressive Person, and the need to “confront and shatter suppression”.
Cruise makes assertions about programs which use Hubbard’s teachings such as Criminon and Narconon “We’re the authorities on getting people off drugs. We’re the authorities on the mind. We’re the authorities on improving conditions. We can rehabilitate criminals. Way to happiness. We can bring peace and unite cultures.” Of the manner in which he wishes to spread Scientology’s message, he says “You’re in the playing field or out of the arena.” Cruise also expresses his disdain for psychiatrists, “Crush these guys [psychiatrists]! I’ve had it! Psychiatry doesn’t work. No mercy! None! Go to guns!”
The video concludes with Cruise laughing, and then a voiceover says: “Scientology can be defined by a single question: would you want others to develop the knowledge you have? In answering that question, Tom Cruise has introduced LRH [L. Ron Hubbard] technology to more than 1 billion people on earth. And that is only the first wave he has unleashed. That is why the story of Tom Cruise, Scientologist, has only just begun.”
|While the video can be seen in any Church of Scientology, what has appeared on the Internet is a pirated and edited version of a 3-hour event.
According to Reuters, the Church of Scientology stated that the video was shown at a 2004 meeting of the International Association of Scientologists. In a statement, the Church of Scientology said that the video was Cruise’s acceptance speech after he had been given the organization’s “Freedom Medal”, and was shown “before an audience of 5,000 church parishioners and their guests.” The statement also called the video that appeared on the Internet a “pirated and edited version.” A representative for Cruise confirmed the Church of Scientology statement: “The video is of Mr. Cruise making an acceptance speech to fellow parishioners at a private church event in 2004.” David Miscavige, head of the Church of Scientology, had presented Cruise with the “Freedom Medal of Valor” at the 2004 ceremony. Eighty Scientologists have received the “Freedom Medal” since the award’s establishment in 1985, but Cruise is the only recipient of the Freedom Medal of Valor. Andrew Morton’s Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography characterizes Cruise as the second most powerful individual within the organization.
|It’s newsworthy, and we will not be removing it.
The video first appeared on the Internet on Sunday, and disappeared after the footage was linked to from Gawker.com and The Huffington Post. Gawker.com posted a copy of the video Tuesday morning, and said that the video had “been passed around privately by reporters and writers investigating Cruise’s ties to Scientology.” Gawker.com noted that a smaller video clip which had previously been available on YouTube “is no longer available, most likely after the Church of Scientology sent in a copyright infringement notice.” Gawker.com has stated that the video will stay up on its site, and has reprinted correspondence with Ava Paquette, an attorney with Moxon & Kobrin, a law firm representing the Church of Scientology. Nick Denton of Gawker.com commented on the posting of the video “It’s newsworthy, and we will not be removing it.”
|These tapes were made for purposes of recruitment.
Investigative journalist Mark Ebner is helping to post more than two hours of additional footage related to the Cruise video, and called it “the most unintentionally hilarious footage you’ve ever seen,” and characterized it as “better than” when Cruise jumped on Oprah’s couch during a May 23, 2005 appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and the South Park parody of Cruise in the controversial episode “Trapped in the Closet“. Ebner appeared on The Today Show on Wednesday, and discussed the video’s appearance on the Internet. In response, the Church of Scientology called Ebner a “fraud”. Ebner told the New York Daily News that “These tapes were made for purposes of recruitment.”
|The Scientologists, by taking action to enforce their copyrights, have made it a news story.
Attempts by the Church of Scientology to stop distribution of the video via the Internet “seem to have backfired spectacularly,” according to The Press Association, and by Thursday the video was viewable on websites other than Gawker.com, including the New York Post, Independent Television News and the BBC. For websites based in Britain usage of the video is protected under copyright laws, specifically for reporting news and current affairs. Still other reports on the video linked to locations where it could be watched, including a report in The Times. Copies of the video were not available on Google Video on Thursday, but were still available on YouTube.
Attorney Mark Stephens of London-based firm Finers Stephens Innocent commented on the Church of Scientology’s attempts to remove the video from the Internet: “The Scientologists, by taking action to enforce their copyrights, have made it a news story. The mistake was not to foresee that a news story has special protection in copyright law in reporting news and current events.”