• Scientology: not a cult? I agree with parts of this article, especially the implications of this quote:
    Religions appear strange in inverse proportion to their age.
    But I'm not convinced that Scientology isn't primarily a money-making scheme, at least among those at the highest levels. (19) #

South Park takes on Scientology, Cruise

Tom Cruise

I got an email from my brother yesterday imploring me to watch the latest episode of South Park. I used to watch the show when it first started airing in 1997, but I've since stopped because the scripts tend to be unfunny and seemingly thrown together, with an offensive concept or two to bind the whole thing together. But my brother said this episode mocked Scientology and R. Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet" song-cycle, both of which have been the source of much of my amusement, so I had to watch.

And as I should've expected, the episode was for the most part boring and unfunny, relying heavily on the joke that Tom Cruise should come out of the closet (the one in Stan's room, not the metaphorical one). Yet, I'm glad I saw the episode nonetheless for its portrayal of Scientology. Rather than just mocking Battlefield Earth, they presented some basic tenets of Scientology virtually as they are. I say virtually because they got some facts wrong like overemphasizing the role thetans play for new inductees over engrams (thetans begin to play a much larger role after the state of clear is achieved).

But the best part of the episode is when the leader of Scientology gave Stan the origin tale of Scientology, something that most Scientologists do not learn until they've invested years and tens of thousands of dollars. The tale is something out of a sci-fi novel -- the evil alien overlord Xenu banishes a bunch of aliens to earth because his galaxy is overpopulated, and then blows them up with a nuclear bomb placed in a volcano -- but in the episode the story is recreated without a single joke, except that during the entire scene the text "This is really what Scientologists believe" is on-screen. So true. But to be fair, an animated recreation of Revelations or certain Mormon beliefs would seem as ridiculous.

Fri, 11/18/2005 - 10:52am