Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Scientology's rubbish, but does Tom Cruise really deserve such hate?

Katie Holmes has filed for divorce from Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise. Hmmm. I don't know what it is about him - the spoiled rich kid good looks, the pathological drive to be the world's top box office draw, the fact he's short - but it seems the entire world can't resist indulging in a bit of schadenfreude at news of his impending divorce from wife number three, Katie Holmes.

Oh dear. That classic sofa- jumping performance on Oprah when he declared his love for the then Dawson's Creek star just seems even funnier, doesn't it?

But wait - why so fast to dump ordure on Tom while cheering Katie all the way, as if cheering Steve McQueen et al in The Great Escape? I mean, what do we really know? Well, Tom's a Scientologist and a bit of a control freak. The first is a matter of record, the second a rumour that just everyone "knows" is true.

Tom's problem is that he has already been judged guilty in the court of public opinion. Hence within minutes of news breaking about the divorce, there were screaming headlines about Katie vowing "cult won't get my girl" and long-winded articles about Scientology not recognising divorce ... so, er, what? She will never be free? No mention, of course, that Katie's Catholicism doesn't recognise divorce, either ...

Then there's Tom's more mundane "crimes". These range from Katie "feeling suffocated" because they lived with his mother and sister to, at 33, finding her considerably older husband, who turns 50 today, "increasingly boring".

Suffocated? Maybe in a semi in Portavogie, but in a Beverly Hills' mansion? Bored? Maybe with an old codger who works down the Ulster Bank and keeps moaning about all the snarky customers these days, but with a rich movie star husband?

Maybe I'm being cynical but I can't dredge up much sympathy for Katie. In fact, she seems a dab hand herself when it comes to this "controlling" lark.

She made damn sure to get her oppressed caboose to New York before filing papers citing "irreconcilable differences" to end the marriage, apparently getting pictured there every day for the past fortnight as proof the city is where she calls home. According to reports, going for divorce there gives her a better chance of gaining sole custody of Suri because New York doesn't like giving warring couples joint custody.

Under the pre-nup she's reportedly set to get at least £10m plus two luxury homes - and if she does get sole custody her lawyers could argue Suri is used to a certain standard of living and try to extract more cash.

Katie's obviously been doing her homework. But then she always was the studious type. If reports are to be believed, Katie - after hooking up with Cruise when chasing a role in Mission Impossible - delved deeply into the teachings of L Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology. Which would mean it's a bit late now to start worrying about cults since she must have had a fair old idea what she was getting into.

Who could blame Cruise for thinking that she was happy to share the same views as himself? After all, she had a lavish Scientology wedding in Rome, no less, at which the cult's leader David Miscavidge was best man.

The roots of Tom Cruise's difficulties are easy to see. He's a perennial fall guy because it seems he takes himself - and his talent - too seriously, Rock of Ages or no. Still, beneath all the joshing and self-deprecation, which Hollywood A-lister doesn't?

In PR terms Cruise has been his own worst enemy. Odd beliefs plus innate jealousy plus earnestness equals open season: hence the 'to lose one wife may look like an accident but to lose three ...' mockery. Still, that's the reasoning of the kangaroo court.

Cruise is a clean cut star. He's never been caught taking drugs, picking up prostitutes or womanising. He stands for hours in the rain at premieres to talk to fans. For all the flak, he remains a huge box office draw. Scientology may be a load of old Thetan nonsense but that shouldn't blind us to the fact that a pretty decent guy got dumped in a spectacularly public and cruel way just days after his wife held hands with him in public. A loving father, he'll now have to fight for access to his daughter.

Perhaps before rushing to judgement we should remember it takes two to tango, two to make a marriage and two to have a divorce.

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