Monday, December 2, 2013

Trolling Tom Cruise Just for Cheap News

So a few weeks ago, I stop in a grocery store on my way to a party, and I look at the newsstand. Sadly, this was the cover that I saw first:

For a long time, I've bent over backwards to not disparage Tom Cruise. I will reserve the better part of my logic for another day, but some of my attitude is based on the idea that I'm a good comedian and Tom represents a soft target in all the worst ways. Tom is good-looking, wealthy, and successful, all of which attract jealousy and a desire to see the guy fail. His public persona may grate on many, but it is largely positive, and I know that's deathly annoying for many people in this messed-up, ever-more cynical time...

More importantly, Mr. Cruise is the high profile face of a religion that's very unpopular. For my part, everything I've heard on the topic, and I really, really don't like what I've heard. At the same time, though, all religions sound kinda crazy and it's wrong to treat people differently for their (non-violent, non-discriminatory, non-abusive) religious beliefs.

Fortunately, none of that has anything to do with today's news. In case you didn't click on the image and read the text in the lower-right corner: Tom Cruise has a defamation case in court right now. That's when one person sues another for making public claims that could damage someone's reputation, livelihood, etc. The suit is against publishers who speculated that the actor has been a bad parent to his daughter, Siri. The suit is for $50 million.

So Cruise gave testimony claiming that his last film project was as hard as a tour in Afghanistan. Specifically, he said that he trains as hard as an Olympian, but even more regularly than they do. Tom also responded to a claim that, per The Hollywood Reporter, "equating... his absence from Suri to that of a soldier's absence from his family while fighting in Afghanistan."

The reply was, "I didn't hear the Afghanistan [comment], but that's what it feels like, and certainly on this last movie, it was brutal. It was brutal,..."

So I guess the first thing that I should note is that The Daily News succeeded: I read the headline and cover blurb and felt deeply-offended on behalf of the servicemen and servicewomen of our armed forces... But the other thing to note is that this news represents the dumbest and most sensationalist muck-raking that I've seen for a while.

If you actually read the news I linked to above, you'd know that the comparison between Tom's work and deployment to Afghanistan was (a) about the amount of time Mr. Cruise spends away from his family. And, (b) much more importantly, it was never made by Tom Cruise himself. It was a statement one of TC's lawyer made about his own client's work routine.

For his current lawsuit, Tom was at a deposition - a meeting in which the two sides to a legal matter get to ask each other questions. The answers that they get will be used (or not) in their legal claims before the court, and/or in a part of pre-trial procedure called discovery.

So Tom is just there to answer questions to the best of his abilities. And one of his reps made a statement about Tom, and Mr. Cruise was asked about it. By and large, if you're asked, at a deposition, about something said about you by one of your reps, the smartest move is generally just to confirm that statement. Unless those words were clearly wrong or false or damaging, "no, I hadn't heard that statement, but yes, that sounds about right" - which is how Cruise responded - there simply is no reason to get into a big debate about it.

And since he didn't have a lot to say about that attorney's claims, we end up with a manufactured piece of troll-bait news about Tom Cruise thinking that his life is a rough as those of servicemen and -women who face constant danger. The even more annoying part is that, yes, I can imagine being a relative of TC's and seeing him about as often as someone on active duty...

I would most likely be less sympathetic to Tom Cruise if he didn't face pot-shots like this.

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