Tom Cruise is a brilliant movie star, but I question his personal choices; my friend disagrees, and we can’t stop arguing about it. It’s insane.
Arguing over a celebrity is nothing new. You like or hate them, and someone else has the opposite opinion. Maybe one of you loved their movie/song/statement, and the other didn’t. But no matter the reason, there is an unspoken understanding that your entire argument is based on their work or how the media portrays them; it’s not based on them personally. Not really.
The media is where I gather my information on Tom Cruise and why I’ve often landed on the opinion that while he’s an excellent action star, he kind of seems like a questionable guy. My friend disagrees. No big deal, right? Wrong. My friend actually knows Cruise and really likes him, and this disagreement has become a slightly contentious and weird aspect of our friendship.
My friend, who I’ll call Bill for the sake of anonymity, works in the entertainment industry, and because of his job, he is very friendly with many well-respected names. Including Tom Cruise. I wouldn’t call them friends, but they are friendly enough that Bill has been to Cruise’s house more than once. He loves working with Cruise and has nothing but wonderful things to say about him.
Now, I have an understanding with Bill; I don’t ask for details. I listen to whatever he is willing to share about his celebrity interactions, but I don’t push for more information. Honestly, I’ve met enough famous folks myself that fame alone does not impress me. I often find his stories entertaining, but it’s not why we’re friends, and it’s important to me that the line is always evident. So he didn’t think twice when telling me about a recent job with Cruise.
We’ve had a few weird celebrity arguments over the years, usually due to too much alcohol. Still, despite his odd need to jump to these people’s defense when I don’t like one of their songs or think their movie sucked, we rarely get hung up on our momentary, differing opinion. It’s different with Tom Cruise.
A couple of years ago, after watching another expose on Scientology (is it a cult?! is it a religion?!), I stupidly commented how crazy Cruise, their poster child, seemed. At the time, I didn’t know about Bill’s loyalty to the actor, and my comment was admittedly callous and harsh. I was catty and said something I’d never say about someone I knew, so I did apologize for the harshness, but not the heart of the statement. I didn’t expect Bill’s response. We fought for almost an hour over my opinion. Bill said I was wrong and couldn’t understand that our vastly different experiences, directly or indirectly, with the actor colored our opposing viewpoints. Bill has interacted with Cruise personally; I have not. I cannot look past some of Cruise’s statements on mental health, and the fact that he is the king of Scientology and that whole setup is just weird as hell. Bill can. You would think after one fruitless argument about Tom Cruise, we would ban him as a topic of conversation… but no such luck. And it just restarted after a 2-year lull because he recently worked on a big Top Gun promotional gig. So, we’re back at it again. (And the weirdest part, we can’t stop agreeing on how great he was in the sequel! But that’s where our agreement ends.)
I don’t know who is in the wrong anymore, but this argument continues, and when it kicks back up, it’s never a pleasant conversation. I understand Bill’s view, who knows Cruise and values his experience with the superstar, and I don’t want to keep arguing about this, but the hell if I’m going to admit I’m in the wrong. I’m not. I might have limited information, and I recognize I could change my opinion if I got to know him, but I doubt it. He might charm me because he’s Tom Cruise, but we really differ on our views about crucial human issues. (I still judge his couch-jumping craziness on Oprah when he first got together with Katie Holmes. And we know how all of that turned out.) I could understand arguing with Cruise, but why am I arguing with Bill?
I don’t understand why either of us can’t avoid the topic like we know we should. It’s as if we’re both determined to win an unwinnable conversation. Until then, Tom Cruise, of all things, will continue to be an objective point of contention in our friendship… which is just really fucking weird.