Going Clear, The Musical: Breaking Down Tom Cruise’s Tonight Show Performance

While doing press for his recent earth-shaking Scientology expose, Alex Gibney made it a point to call out some of the more well-known Scientologists that the film focuses on. After a screening in early March, Gibney made headlines after calling Tom Cruise’s silence amidst accusations that he called for wiretapping of then wife Nicole Kidman’s phone and  used underpaid workers to maintain his car and plane “irresponsible.”

But what exactly do Gibney and the thousands of anti-church critics expect from Scientology’s poster child? This is an organization that has a history of undertaking drastic smear campaigns, relying on endless lawsuits, violence, and even death threats to discredit or ensure silence from detractors. Google (the verb) ex-members Paul Haggis or Jason Beghe and one of the top results will be a smear website (WhoisPaulHaggis?) created by the church.

With the recent “oppressive” labeling of his daughter with ex-wife Katie Holmes, Cruise’s Scientology status is of now in limbo.

But one does not simply leave the Church. There is the private auditing process that plays a large role in entering and moving up in the organization. This painful process involves an extremely personal tell-all, with extra emphasis given to detailing indiscretionary sex-related details. This can serve as blackmail when needed. (I picture this process going like this) ** somewhat nsfw

It’s safe to say that in the case of a split, Cruise, in order to maintain his elite standing in Hollywood’s hierarchy, and to ensure his own safety and well-being, simply won’t be talking about his 25 years spent with the organization. It also means we might be seeing some very strange leaked secrets surfacing thanks to the Church’s attempts at dis-credation.

But that doesn’t mean that Cruise won’t hint at behind-the-scenes happenings, or that we won’t analyze his every public appearance for hints at said happenings.  Enter Tom Cruise’s recent Mission Impossible-related appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show. The interview itself was relatively standard, centered around Cruise’s insane stunts during production, which included being strapped to the side of an airplane during takeoff and holding his breathe for upwards of 6 minutes during an underwater scene.

Cruise’s personality seemed no different than appearances in previous years. His unique brew of borderline overblown charisma, intensity, and pseudo-pandering that translates so well to the big screen but comes across as inauthentic* in real life was still there, characterized by the largely unmoving grin plastered across his face throughout his appearance. Whether it’s the religion, generally inauthentic nature (remember though, he is an actor) or that fact that he’s one of those people that, despite doing their job as well as anyone else and by all accounts being a genuinely good person, is defined by popular movements dictating thatHe’s a wack-job and it’s our job is to hate him,” there is a negative consensus out on Cruise, and it’s hurting his box office draw.

*(Cruise has a unique ability to convey intensity and emotion without changing his facial expression. His eyes and smile do the trick. IMO only two other actors are capable of this: Tom Hardy and Mel Gibson. BUT this same expression that works so well in movies where emotion in king comes across as somewhat creepy in our toned-down real world)

Plus, have you seen him throw a baseball?

All of which is a shame, as Edge of Tomorrow and Ghost Protocol are still head and shoulders above any other action movie in recent years. Heck, even the pretty but empty void that was Oblivion was somewhat enjoyable thanks to his character. Granted, it was the same character he’s always played. But he’s always played his character and not the script’s character in his movies.

To conclude the show Cruise joined Fallon for a game of celebrity lip sync. This is where the magic happened. Cruise’s first choice was inconspicuous enough, singing TheWeeknd’s  MJ-styled summer smash hit, “Cant Feel my Face.”

But it’s his second musical number that we’ll be taking a look at today.

Meatloaf’s rock classic “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” is a three-part story centering around a young couple out on a date, parked out on the classic look-out point on a Friday night.

Or is it? Notice Cruise’s blissful relief throughout the performance as he uses metaphor to ….deep breath…. explain for the first time ever his decades-long journey with, eventual messy break-up, and ensuing freedom from Scientology. What? Just read along with the lyrics of Meat Loaf’s version of the song and you’ll see.

Part 1-Heating Up

“It never felt so good, it never felt so right
And we’re glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife
Glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife”

As things heat up, our initial view of the couple fades to black and is replaced with an audio clip from the car radio, that of legendary Yankees announcer Phill Rizzuto describing the play-by-play in a tension-filled 9th inning. In it, the star athlete advances around the bases before sliding into home plate. Very subtle, I know.

Tom Cruise, fresh off starring roles in Top Gun and Rain Man, is poised the join the upper echelon of movie-stardom in Hollywood. Then in 1990 first wife, Mimi Rodgers, introduces him to an organization that promises him the ability to un-tap his charisma and become the biggest movie star in the world. He’s so close to tasting it. 

How could Cruise say no?

Part 2-Let Me Sleep on It.

“I couldn’t take it any longer
Lord I was crazed
And when the feeling came upon me
Like a title wave
I started swearing to my god and on my mother’s grave
That I would love you to the end of time
I swore that I would love you to the end of time!”

Right as things begin to get heavy the girl decides to pump the breaks. She needs certain assurances met before enlightening our boy. A commitment must be made. A declaration of commitment; specifically, love. How long? Forever.

Cruise marries Nicole Kidman. He then stars in A Few Good Men. This is followed by Mission Impossible and Jerry McGuire. The rest is history. In the meantime he also confronts and beats his dyslexia, which he credits the church with. But this success does not come without trappings. Specifically, Scientology’s signed and binding contract ensuring a billion-year commitment to the church.  

Part 3-Praying for the End of Time (reality sets in)

“So now I’m praying for the end of time
To hurry up and arrive
‘Cause if I gotta spend another minute with you
I don’t think that I can really survive”

Good times have been had, and now a suddenly clear-headed boy realizes what he in a mindless fit of passion signed up for. He begins to hear whispers; dirty rumors from other students about the girl’s past. She’s done this to boys before. It’s time to flee, reputation with the ladies be damned.

Cruise became the Hollywood star, but the life was beginning to take its toll. Unfortunately, there was no leaving with his reputation intact. He was stuck with a billion-year contract, a “closet” full of potentially shameful dirty secrets, and a growing rift between family and church.

Epilogue- A Messy Breakup

During live performances, the song was usually followed by a spoken-word epilogue between Meat Loaf and whomever was doing the female vocals that night. Referencing a recent divorce, they would argue over who would keep what possession. Eventually, the female would shout out,”I’m keeping the baby!” At this exclamation Meat Loaf would fall silent, hinting at the fact that he had forgotten all about the child.

“Going Clear” is released.

As of March, 2015, rumor had it that Tom Cruise hadn’t seen 8-year-old daughter Suri Cruise in over a year. His relationship with Scientology had taken precedence over relations with ex-wife Katie Holmes and daughter Suri, who are no longer church members and therefore he is forbidden from spending time with. Suri, for the role she has played in distracting her father’s attentions from the church, risks being labeled “Oppressive” by the organization.  

And Here We Are

Tom Cruise wants out, but has to do so in the least injurious, subtlest way possible.  His media team devises a brilliant plan to alert the public to his true thoughts on the matter. But they need a media platform to reach the masses, and someone to play along. Preferably someone who won’t understand their true intentions. They look for a harmless dolt of a host. Enter Jimmy Fallon.

Now, before you call me out on a crazy conspiracy, think about this- On the scale of Scientology conspiracies that have been proven true throughout the years, this one probably wouldn’t crack the top 20.

What will happen to Tom Cruise’s star if he leaves Scientology? Will TMZ, with the help of the Church, break a story on his orientation? Will the public accept his apology and drop the “crazy” hate? Will Cruise return to the drama-centered roles that for many years defined him?

As his interview with Jimmy Fallon was coming to a close, Cruise took a moment to reflect on his near-death experiences during filming. He took a deep breath, rubbed his hands in that odd fashion of his, and then looked out into the audience and spoke imploringly, words barely audible over the sound of cheering fans.

“I just want to entertain you all.”

And entertain us he certainly has.

2 thoughts on “Going Clear, The Musical: Breaking Down Tom Cruise’s Tonight Show Performance

  1. Brett Stewart

    *Whew* and here I thought singing both parts of the duet was a not-so-veiled euphemism for playing both sides of the field, and choosing to start on the female part was a clue to his preferences. Little did I, Jimmy Fallon, and 1.451 million Americans know that within the beautiful rendition of Eddie Ex’s 1977 classic, Mr. Thomas Mapother IV was actually firing a proton-cannon shot across the bow of Xenu the Galactic Overlord signaling the beginning of La Resistance… awshit, I just slipped into South Park Bigger, Longer & Uncut and promptly wandered away from my keyboard to find some Adderall.


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