Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

The dissolution of Tom and Katie

The developing story (or should we say chatter) concerning the break-up of the marriage between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes offers a text-book example of the lunatic way that news gets around in modern times. A solid narrative has already …

Mon, Jul 2, 2012, 23:42

   

The developing story (or should we say chatter) concerning the break-up of the marriage between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes offers a text-book example of the lunatic way that news gets around in modern times. A solid narrative has already shaped itself about the spare facts. You will already know how this goes. You will have scanned the tabloids and frowned at their presumption. Ms Holmes has filed for divorce in New York — rather than Los Angeles — because that court would be more likely to award her sole custody of young Suri, the couple’s daughter. We have more confirmed information from The Man in the Pub. It seems that Katie bolted when Tom threatened to send Suri (isn’t that the name of the creepy talking assistant on the iPhone?) to some terrifying summer camp for Scientologists. Concerned that the child would soon be wearing a tin-foil hat and dancing round a burning wicker man, Katie climbed into her car and drove to the offices of   Sue, Grabbit & Runn.

Everything seems in order here.

The thing is, of course, that almost none of these stories has been confirmed. A good example of the insecure nature of the myth building can be found at the Hollywood Life website. That organ’s most recent story has a prominent divorce attorney commenting on what might happen if  Tom tried to kidnap Suri. “It’s unlikely that Tom is going to come and try to take Suri away given he’s in Iceland on a movie set,” Vikki Ziegler tells the site. “But if she believes there’s a threat she can go to the police department and say ‘I believe Tom may come and take my child’ and put them on notice. She can request an emergency hearing to try and get physical custody.” Well, quite. Now what do you think we should do if Tom Cruise decides to gather together a gang of international criminals and take over the Chrysler Building?

There may be some truth in all this gossip. But what seems to be happening is that the public has collectively willed into being the story that it wants to be true. The whole Tom Cruise phenomenon remains baffling. Even before he linked up with Ms Holmes, the general consensus — among the folk at my club, anyway — was that Tom had long ago turned decidedly creepy. He was always a little bit unsettling: like one of the villains from that ancient Dr Who episode that saw shop mannequins come alive and stomp down Oxford Street. But, when he jumped on Oprah’s couch and began declaring unnecessary amounts of love, the creepometer shot into the red and has remained there ever since. Every time I talk to somebody who’s worked with him they always say how nice he is. They do, however, tend to deliver their encomiums in eerily similar language. You’ve seen the Manchurian Candidate. ”Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.” That’s what they all said about programmed killer Laurence Harvey. Not that I am saying that anybody who has ever worked with Tom Cruise has been brainwashed. That’s not what I am saying.

So, those of us who don’t get on with Cruise — and regard Scientology with deep suspicion — all desperately want to believe that Holmes made her move because she finally had enough with Captain Baby-Face and the Church of the Giant Lizard. Meanwhile, as the cracking figures for Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol demonstrate, there is still a market for Cruise outside America. In the hugely unlikely event that Holmes spills the beans and reveals some horrible “all”, Mr Cruise will not be forced to take a job at the 7/11. They’ll still love him in Japan. So we can construct all the wish-fulfilment yarns we want. He still wins.