April 27, 2007

The Cruises and the Travoltas: A Study in Scientology Marriages


The Cruises and the Travoltas are Scientology's two most visible and, they want you to believe, successful, marriages/mergers in their organization. Until recently, I would say that there has been nary a crack in the Travolta foundation. Do I believe that true love guided John and Kelly down the aisle? Heck, no. But I do think they exemplified how to conduct yourself accordingly when in an arranged marriage, particularly when that marriage was arranged by the ghost of L. Ron Hubbard.
Had Jesus Christ Cruise not gone all batshit crazy during the summer of 2005, I think the Travoltas would still be flying under the radar and making the occasional public appearance, smiles firmly plastered on their faces, arms interlinked, to show a "Hollywood success story". But the Mini-Messiah's very public p.r. meltdown not only cooked his own goose, but burned the Travoltas as well.
Gay rumors have followed Travolta for years; as well as curiosity and confusion about Scientology. Travolta never responded to the gay rumors and, for the most part, the whispers about batting for the other team quited down after he and Preston made their billion year pact to one another in a Scientology ceremony in Paris about 15 years ago. From that point forward, Travolta (at least on the surface) become a devoted and loving husband and family man; his career was revived and accelerated, while his wife's slowed to a trickle. Scientology rarely came up in interviews and when it did, Travolta answered questions deftly and with little fanfare. If he had an "understanding" in his marriage, it was quietly swept under the rug - - his personal life could be separated from his public and professional one.
Before the conception and birth of that ugly media monster known as TomKat, Maverick too was Cruise-ing by in the public's perception as a good husband, devoted father and laid-back Scientologist. Yep, just like Travolta, the gay rumors were there and there was a small eruption of new rumors every now and again - - unlike Travolta, though, Maverick liked to sue. Or, rather, threaten to sue. He was never permanently stung by the rumors and he was kept firmly in check p.r.-wise. Additionally, Nicole Kidman seemed an ideal partner for him, regardless of their personal situation or any "agreement" or "arrangement" in their marriage. In everything but height, she seemed his equal. Theirs was a marriage that benefited Hollywood - - charming, dashing action movie star with his serious soon-to-be-Oscared Aussie wife. These two made it work, much like the Travoltas did.
And then came TomKat and with one Oprah appearance, and one rant to Matt Lauer, crucifying an 80s icon, the years of hard work were obliterated and these two relationships came under the spotlight. It's only natural that when pointing out the obvious "for media consumption" PDA that so infested all of TomKat's early appearances, that Scientology would come under fire - - and Scientology's previous power couple, the Travoltas, would be hoisted under the media spotlight and compared to TomKat. With Maverick's meltdown came the green light to rake him over the coals; previously pampered and coddled by the tabloids, the print media let loose a 15 year build up of rumors, innuendo and snark, with the former Joey Potter caught in the crossfire, staring dazed and glazed at the cameras and enthusiastically crowing "Tom's amazing!" Suddenly Maverick's hyper, wild and overly intense behavior, always present and previous to the meltdown just a characteristic, an eccentricity, became alarming and not the norm. Whereas he was energetic before, now he needed meds. Where he was all involved and consumed with projects, now he became controlling. KateBot was seen as an actress trying to claw her way to A-list status by hiring out her services - - most notably her ability to parrot what she had been told to recite ("I'm so happy, I'm so lucky!"), convincingly was optional, and her womb, to provide Maverick with that elusive "biological child".
How can we not draw comparisons between the Crazy Cruises and the Travoltas?
In the PR race, however, the Travoltas come out the winners. Despite missteps, like the TMI-laden statements of egg fertilizing and various positions necessary at the Wild Hogs premiere, the Travoltas have generally managed to stay under the media radar and out of the shooting gallery of innuendo and contract speculation. Neither JT nor KP have given "exclusive" interviews to print media to further boost their fairy tale romance and stress how amazing the other is and how magnificent their lives are together. What the Cruises don't realize is that no one is that happy all the time - - unless you're a game show host. Which provides scary speculation as to what Maverick's next career move will be. Yikes.
At the end of the day, or more appropriately, at the end of the contract, the Cruises will be plastered all over the tabloids as their relationship comes to a long and painful (and Oprah episode worthy) death, while the Travoltas, should they split, will probably split much the same way they've lived the last fifteen years. Quietly, under the radar and with restraint and decorum. In other words, the antithesis of TomKat.

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