Contrary to what this one episode of “Mythbusters” pretty much disproved, you can shoot fish in barrel. Nobody said there had to be water! Case in point, www.TomCruise.com, the official fan site for Tom Cruise by Tom Cruise’s number one fan, Tom Cruise. So grab your rifle, we’re about catch us some flounder.
TomCruise.com is presented as a 25-year-anniversary celebration of the release of “Risky Business,” which is described as Tom’s first starring role in the site’s somewhat inaccurate “Message from Tom.” The message goes on to read, “In celebration of this occasion, and my 27 years of making movies, I created this site as a thank you, to you, for sharing the journey with me and to invite you to continue to explore what the future will bring.”
Gee thanks, Tom! And please excuse the media-hardened cynicism of those who suspect TomCruise.com is not so much a multimedia Thank You card, but rather a meticulously engineered attempt to reclaim the once-formidable Cruise persona violently deflated by Web 2.0 caprice. In keeping with its May launch, the site more appropriately marks the three-year anniversary of the beginning of the end – Tom’s unfortunate couch-jumping incident on “Oprah,” May 23, 2005.
You know the thing about how you can’t put toothpaste back in the tube? It’s also not such a great idea to stomp on same tube and squish out any and all remaining goo. I guess what I’m trying to say is … well … there is just no way on God’s Green Earth that a slick, self-aggrandizing Web site will ever Google-wash three years of sofa jumping and Scientology YouTube mash ups from the memories of pretty much everyone in the known Universe.
In its blind hubris, TomCruise.com only fuels the online Cruise comedy cavalcade, a twist of fate that’d be tragic if it wasn’t so rich in schadenfreude-packed hilarity. Seriously. From the glossy Tom Cruise slide show to the “Mission Impossible” musical accompaniment, the site screams for merciless satirization.
You’d think that a career built on conspiracy and Sci-Fi films would’ve taught Tom a thing or two. Meaning, you can run really fast, jump on a motorcycle, eject yourself from a sticky situation via fiery explosion, then run some more, but you can never escape the Internet. Just ask “Afro Ninja” or poor “Light Saber Kid.” Every humiliation that reaches cyberspace is downloaded for life.
Building a creepy online shrine to yourself will never make the masses forget “Tom Cruise Kills Oprah,” the infamous YouTube video in which some lo-fi computer effects create the illusion that you’re using your Dark Force powers a la "Star Wars" Emperor to sent bolts of electricity through the talk show host’s body while she appears to writhe in agony. It’s just not going to happen.
Americans may not get geography, but don’t try and rearrange our pop culture furniture, because we’ll know. That goes for the link to Tom’s last “Oprah” clip, tastefully heralded in the “What’s New” section of TomCruise.com. No, not Tom’s sofa-surfing appearance. (Though that incident is tastefully, with utmost sensitivity, mentioned when Oprah hits Tom’s couch for an intimate two-episode interview from Tom’s ranch).
Ironically, it’s the couch jumping incident three years ago that no doubt marked the genesis of the image-correcting TomCruise.com. It’s the watershed moment (and the cyberspace circulation of the video of that watershed moment), that invited the masses to declare open season on the once untouchable mega star. Talking smack about Brook Shields’ postpartum depression was one thing. But the “Oprah” exhibition suggested a personality ripe for a good old fashioned public shamin’.
Couch jumping made it cool for a water-gun wielding fan to squirt Tom at the “War of the Worlds” U.K. premiere. It inspired a “South Park” skewering in an episode that questioned the star’s sexuality and belief system. And even though Tom’s been a known member of the controversial organization, it wasn’t until then that someone leaked those odd Tom Cruise-adoring Scientology videos, as memorably parodied by Jerry O'Connell. Nobody's forgetting that anytime soon.
Nor will Americans forget that Tom’s first starring role was not in the breakout blockbuster, “Risky Business,” but in another movie released in 1983, “Losin’ It.” Okay, so only Americans with freakish memories for inconsequential trivia won’t forget. But while some may classify “Losin’ It” as an ensemble piece that also featured the under rated, and since-rediscovered Jackie Earle Haley, it was Tom’s character, “Woody,” who ended up “losin’ it” (i.e. his virginity) to Diane from “Cheers” (Shelley Long).
In fact, there’s actually an open spot on the “Filmography” page where “Losin’ It” could fit and make a complete square. Some might conjecture that “Losin’ It” was probably there at one time, but removed, maybe because as Rose McGowan’s character points out in “Scream,” in “Losin’ It,” you get to see Tom’s … um … business. But guess what? All it takes is one Saturday afternoon with the USA Network to prove that movie exists.
“Endless Love” isn’t there either, but rather than bringing up any past Brooke Shields nonsense, one could reasonably argue that he was only in that movie, like, two seconds. Meanwhile, “Legend” is included in the filmography, but suspiciously absent from the site’s epic four-act montage of Tom Cruise movie scenes.
So, out of Tom’s entire body of work, “Legend” is a movie for which he feels shame? Its absence seems like another huge mistake, considering “Legend” is the one movie to which even his most vicious detractors have some sentimental attachment, the only one that doesn’t produce a full body shiver.
Still, maybe Tom’s ahead of his time. Perhaps soon every actor will have a personal Web site. You know, like porn stars? Please note that most A-listers don’t have sites or, in the case of cateblanchett.net, it’s a fan site. Run by a fan. Who is not Cate Blanchett. A couple of famous names are squatted - which is a great idea, although Nicole Kidman's is free. Tom should buy it.
Even if TomCruise.com portends the future of cyber stardom, it may take a while to kick in. Tom’s site isn't even the first in Google result when you search his name. IMDB does a better job of search engine optimization. Probably, Tom fans should start linking to his site, I guess. In the interim, he's paid for a link to his site at the top of his search results on Google.
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