Recently I have been bombarded by variation memes that tell me “You’ve heard of Elf on a Shelf, now…” and there’s two pictures clumsily edited together whose subjects rhyme, sometimes.
These have confused and frustrated me because most of the time the things don’t actually rhyme, or they’re so obscure it’s obviously an in-joke that I am not party to, but in every single occasion it’s not funny enough to be worth the effort. Having red eyes doesn’t immediately make me think that a person has been taking the drug MDMA. So “Ghandi on Mandy” was stupid, because it’s pronounced “Garhn-di” not “Gan-di”.
But the most confusing thing about these infographics (it is only a meme if it is a commonly recognised style or image that has been adapted, a picture with some text is an infographic. But that’s just me being smug about some information I know that you will ignore and continue to use the phrase “meme” incorrectly) is that I had not previously heard of “Elf on a Shelf”.
Have you ever been bombarded by a thing that just came out of nowhere? It makes you feel like there are infinite universes, and every time you wake up it’s in one extremely similar to the one you were in when you fell asleep, save for one tiny difference. Everyone you knew in the parallel universe is basically the same, your job is the same, and beetles still look the same. But now you’re in a world where everyone is talking about “Elf on a Shelf”.
That’s what happened to me in May 2005, but when I woke up one day everyone was saying that they hated Tom Cruise.
Obviously the first thing I did was call my septuagenarian professor friend and ask him if he’d gone back and changed anything in the past, like trying to get me to fuck my own mother, but he said he was yet to meet with his Libyan terrorist friends, so that wasn’t it.
Then I checked my special holidays calendar to see if it was opposite day. But that’s always not on July 27th. Then I took a long hard look in the mirror to see if an evil version of me was waving back and laughing because he’d trapped me in a bizarro world. This took about ten minutes because I already look like an evil version of myself, and I’m a big fan of waving.
It turns out that you (and by you, I mean the entire media consuming world) had seen a snapshot of TC (Tom Cruise, not Top Cat, although he has also survived an unnecessary slamming media campaign) jumping up and down on Oprah’s sofa, professing his love for his then wife, Katie Holmes, who was later replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal without anyone really noticing.
Unfortunately a picture is a snapshot of 1/24th of a second that provides no context of what happened before or after it. But that specific shot shows his feet a few inches off the sofa, with his knees bent, so it’s easy to form the narrative that he is jumping up and down like a coked up leprechaun evading a spider while being cattle-prodded.
During the entire interview he does jump on the couch three times. Up, then down, then he does a Terminator style crouch with his fist on the ground. They chat for a while, then he does it again.
Is that strange? Yeah. If you or I were chatting with a friend, and they asked you if you love your partner, you might be like *Pause Tekken* “Yeah, she’s cool“ *Unpause Tekken, leg sweep with Eddie, handstand headkick, diving foot-lunge, KO* “She might be the one”.
Because you’re not on the most watched TV show in the country, and you’re not the most famous person in the world. He’s there to promote War of the Worlds (2005), which is a critically maligned project anyway so he has to create some kind of a buzz, and he’s in front of 200 screaming women that want to see him be energetic, and the emotionally engaged fantasy they project on him.
Did he really love Katie Holmes that much? I don’t know. Was their relationship a façade to hide the fact that he’s gay? I have no earthly idea. Was him being excited enough of a reason to class him as a freak? Bull-Shit.
Heterosexual people have always been accepted by society. Homosexual people have increasingly been accepted by society. And eventually we’ll get there, as soon as all the old bigots die. Metrosexuals had their moment in the sun, until we moved that in to how the average man acts and dresses. It’s a fashion that I never really adopted, which is why I’m still single. And recently we’ve all learned to understand transgender persons aren’t just a Crocodile Dundee II: The Squeakquel (1988) punchline. But apparently if someone is in the closet because they’re not ready to come out to the world about their sexuality, they’re fair game for mockery.
Mocking a gay person…
“What are you, gay?!”
Mocking a straight person…
“What are you, gay?!”
“Yeah you are. AHHH, look at the Gaylord”
And then either a fight, or nothing happens.
Mocking a closeted gay person…
“What are you, gay?!”
“Yeah you are. AHHH, look at the Gaylord”
And then that person has to silently deal with living in a world that is going to seemingly persecute them for no good reason.
It’s long been known that Scientology, rather than just being a quirky religion, is a secret society for the rich and famous where they pay enough money and people of the same status will share their secrets and accept them. I don’t want to get in to why Scientology is silly, like all religions are. I once went to a centre to have myself checked out. Turns out I’m sad and Dianetics could help me, if I bought a book. I had known for three years already that I have borderline personality disorder, and cutting my arms with a cutthroat razor helped. But I’m not a movie star. Millions of people aren’t going to see my naked body and judge me. It’s extremely plausible that if I didn’t have my own outlet, a self-help book and an expensive support group might be a better route to go down.
Say what you want about religion, for a lot of people it helps them deal with the futility of existence. Telling them they’re wrong does nothing to convince them to leave their support group, it only shows that you’re not happy with yours.
Is a man’s religion a good enough reason to hate him?
Roman Polanski definitely fucked kids. Do you boycott his films? No, The Ninth Gate (1999) is fantastic.
Woody Allen fucked and married his adopted daughter? Are you going to stop watching his films? Yes you should, because they aren’t particularly good films. (I am still yet to see Annie Hall (1977) so I reserve the right to retract this statement)
Mel Gibson hates Jews, when he’s drunk. And he’s angry about “packs of n*ggers” raping his missus. But I don’t want to live in a world without any of the Lethal Weapon series, or Braveheart (1995), or The Patriot (2000), or Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) (I can do without the first two).
But TC gets ostracised because he likes to believe in a thing that you don’t believe in? I don’t understand how that’s any of your concern.
And let’s not forget that Adolf Hitler killed millions of people, but we all still think that he was a pretty cool guy.
I talk a lot about ex-girlfriends in my posts. That’s because they’re the people I watch films with the most. My last two previous girlfs were a few years younger than me, and both of them hate TC. They both said that they find him smarmy and/or cheesy.
And I can see that. But I grew up in the 80’s. He was one of our biggest stars. That’s just how we did things in the 80’s. We hadn’t evolved to the gritty world of Christian Bale moody Batmans (Batmen?). Benedict Cumberbatch and his diamond-tipped cheekbones would have had no place in the 80’s. The Rock isn’t getting any play as an action hero in the 80’s, we weren’t ready for a mulatto in those roles. I’m not saying it’s right, it’s just the way it was. It was prime time for the all-american, quarterback-looking, boy-next-door, arian-posterboy. And Tom Cruise did it all.
Brat-pack school kid rebel? The Outsiders (1983), Risky Business (1983), All the Right Moves (1983). High-octane thrill-ride? Top Gun (1986) and Days of Thunder (1990). Loveable everyman? Cocktail (1988) and Rain Man (1988). Gritty drama? The Colour of Money (1986) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989).
He was ticking all the boxes at the start of his career. Has he taken some missteps? No. I personally don’t like Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994) but I’ve been spoilt for choice when it comes to vampire movies. And that particular one doesn’t kick my bop. But he hasn’t been in anything that would be considered a flop. Even the aforementioned War of the Worlds took a shit-tonne more money than it cost. And his closest almost flop, Edge of Tomorrow (2014) was just marketed under a terrible name in its theatrical release. They then changed it for the DVD release to “Live. Die. Repeat” which is still dumb, but the movie itself is a gloriously fun sci-fi action Groundhog Day (1993), which if you haven’t seen, I urge you to watch right now.
Somewhere around 1998 our visual effects technology started to get good enough that it was hard to tell where the green screen was. And for years that’s all we had, just look at the Star Wars prequels that were all shot in the same bedsit in Charlton with a bright green bedsheet hanging on the wall. For most of the 2000s we were fine with that. It was the collective lie that we told ourselves that this was alright. But then Tom rocks up for Mission: Impossible III: The Legend of Curly’s Gold (2006) and does most of his own stunts. It’s mostly running and jumping and climbing and falling, but still. He’s out there doing them. Him. Not a stunt man who looks a little bit like him. Him.
Regular readers of my articles will know I’m a huge James Bond fan, but I’ve got to give kudos to Cruise over Bond here. Bond had three different stunts that involved stunt men walking outside of, or hanging on to the outside of airplanes.
“Roger, would you mind being the one that shimmies outside of the plane to fight the Indian guy?”
“I don’t think it would be becoming of a man of my sexual prowess to be undertaking such a task. I can’t see Lizzie Windsor approving, wouldn’t you say?”
“Tom, so, we’re gonna do this thing where someone is hanging…”
“I’ll do it”
“Do you not want to hear the rest?”
“Nope, I’m in. I’ve got all this pent-up energy from not fucking my beard wife, I’ll do anything just to feel alive”
“You realise that you’re one of the highest paid actors in the world and we could easily pay some paean to…”
“Me. Let me do it. As long as it’s not climbing outside one of the world’s tallest buildings, or hanging on to a plane as it takes off…”
“Ah, well, it is actually going to be one of those things now, and the other one in 5 years, when you’re 53”
“Shucks, well I did already say I’d do it. Too late to back out now”
“Oh, no, you have literally a year and 4 years to back out. You’re not contractually beholden to anything at this stage”
“Nope. A deal’s a deal. If I’d had my fingers crossed, well then sure. But I’m not here to be making a fool out of you guys”
The man is willing to risk literally dying for his art.
Wayne’s World (1992), So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993), and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) cemented Mike Myers into the comedy hall of fame. All so quotable and hilarious. However in 2008 Mike Myers wrote and starred in The Love Guru (2008). A film so racially insensitive that Daniel Marc Snyder, majority owner of the Washington Redskins NFL team called it “the worst representation of any kind of Indian culture ever to have existed”.
That same year TC dressed up in jew-face and uttered the immortal words “take a big step back and literally fuck your own face”. Which I have said many more times than anything from Myers’ catalogue, with the perhaps exception of “nugatory good buddy”. After watching Tropic Thunder (2008) most people would be excused for not even realising that was Tom Cruise playing the vulgar Übermensch producer. He developed a lot of the characteristics himself, including the bizarre over-sized hands. You’d think with Ben Stiller and Justin Theroux writing, that that would be down to them. But no, Cruise even added the dancing himself.
Urgh. I don’t want to list all of his films and tell you why they’re great, but A Few Good Men (1992) and The Firm (1993)??? Come on. Those alone should give him carte blanche to do whatever he wants. Even Open Your Eyes (1997) shoddy remake Vanilla Sky (2001) gets some credit because it gave us the term ‘fuck buddies’.
Tom Cruise from the 80’s is the same Tom Cruise we have in 2017. If you look hard enough you can see that he’s aged. But the difference between him then and now is a much narrower window than the difference between me now and ten years ago.
For the last two years at work, for my birthday, I was asked what I wanted as a present. Both times I said “A poster of either Ben Affleck, or Tom Cruise. But not one of them from a film, just them on the red carpet, looking cheesy”. The first year they thought I was joking and got me a case of Budweiser. Which was fine. But I threw a hissy fit. This year I got two A3 photos, one of each of them, which I promptly framed and hung next to my American Psycho (2000) canvas. Every day I return home greeted by those beautiful enamel soldiers fenced in by a couple of dimple angels, standing resolutely under two twinkling heavenly pools. Should I pretend to be in love with Katie Holmes as well? For Tom I would.
If you want to hate him, just admit it’s because you’re jealous that he’s perfect and you are not.