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By "ewsnead" more
Kidman had this to say: "In terms of your life. if you start to exploit it, then what's real, and what's not? What's yours and what's isn't?"
This question alludes to a recurrent Scientology theme raised amongst critics, namely, that of the invasion of privacy. Scientology techniques, training regimens and institutional policies such as the culling of PC folders in search of incriminating evidence against disaffected members are used as cult control mechanisms, effectively "turning souls inside out."
Specifically, Kidman addresses the cultural breakdown of the distinction between the private and public self. The public exploitation of one's life entails a sacrifice of the private self. This issue echoes so resonantly because the methods of control deliberately deployed by Scientology share many familiar albeit disguised features with those mechanisms in the entertainment world that regulate the complex relationship between a celebrity, the media and the legions of eyesdropping fans.
With the loss of the private self, either through commitment to Scientology or more indirectly by virtue of the vicissitudes of constant public attention, comes the collapse of intimacy, the inability to feel emotions "privately" in a grounded and spontaneous fashion, to have a surefooted sense of what is real and thereby true. This loss in turn undermines the feeling of "ontological" security that accompanies any sense of making clear distinctions between "what is mine" and "what is not-mine" or "who I am" and "who I am not."
The ability to sort out this distinction underwrites the capacity a sound sense of self. This, in turn, allows genuine connections with others. Secure, distinctive selfhood comes from the establishment of boundaries. It is cast into relief by differences, that is to say, one's relations with the non-self. The world of the celebrity may eventually collapse into the domain of the "not-me" to such an extent that a person becomes emotionally lost, an orphan, handing over any sense of control over one's own life to others because such personal control requires grounding enabled by some private sense of who one really is. The vortex of identity confusion results in a self-conscious manufacturing of often inappropriate emotional responses. Since I don't know what to feel in the context of this encounter or occasion, any synthetic display of affect seems as good as any other.
The parallel and mutually supportive effects of Scientology involvement and living in the fishbowl of the entertainment industry certainly plays a role in the recent bizarre, because it is so inappropriate, public behavior of Tom Cruise. Cruise gives up considerable privacy by virtue of his engagement with the Scientology cult. This contempt for the private self is further highlighted (and its effects compounded) by the Cruise's style of public interaction shaped by his current publicist, who happens to be his sister and also a Scientologist. Cruise's former publicist, Pat Kingsley, had a keen sense of discretion (and taste), appreciating the many reasons why a person's public and private lives should remain distinct.