Saturday, December 29, 2007

Accuracy of Celebrity News

My wife loves autobiographies, especially those by people in the entertainment industry. Her favorite autobiography is that of Michael Caine, the brilliant British actor. She's read it at least 10 times. Others she has read include Sophia Loren, Ingrid Bergman, Mia Farrow, Laurence Olivier, Lauren Bacall and Maureen O'Hara.

Although they came from completely different backgrounds and had very different lives, they all had one thing in common: the press continuously told lies about them.

It is fascinating to see that from the 1930's right up to the present day the press lies and lies and lies about celebrities. From these books it seems to go this way: the press will try to dig up dirt and when they can't find any they'll make it up.

Most of these celebrities were unable to do much about the lies because the press is very clever in how they report things. For example: "a source close to the actor told me …." What follows is a lie, but the reporter is not saying it is a fact, merely that someone told him it.

One of the few celebrities that had success in fighting this was Maureen O'Hara. If you have seen the movie "LA Confidential" then you will recall the magazine "Hush, Hush" which used dirty tricks and blackmail to get its stories. This magazine was modeled on an actual magazine of the 1950's called "Confidential". In Ms. O'Hara's own words, "there was no tabloid more popular and more destructive than Confidential magazine. Confidential was devoted exclusively to the misadventures of Hollywood movie stars and other celebrities."

In 1957 the magazine published an extremely salacious story about what Ms. Hara got up to in the back row of the Grauman's Chinese Theatre with her "Latin Lover". The story was completely false so she sued.

At first the industry was behind her, but as time went by that support evaporated, many said because the magazine used blackmail to protect itself. She even had to have two FBI agents to protect her when it was discovered that the magazine planned to break into her house in an attempt to find dirt they could use to blackmail her.

Finally, in a truly Hollywood ending, after the magazine's representatives had given the exact date and time of the alleged incident, Ms. O'Hara pulled out her passport and handed it to the Judge. The official stamps proved that she had been in Spain at the time and the magazine was found guilty and had to pay millions in damages. In her book Ms. O'Hara says, "My victory was the first time a movie star had won against an industry tabloid."

Sadly, in the 50 years since her victory, very few celebrities have been successful in suing the media for the lies they publish. So the scandalmongers continue the vitriolic tradition of the catty old women of ages past who whispered their hateful lies in back alleys and across garden fences.

So, next time you read some scandalous story about a celebrity, realize that it's probably a lie that has been worded carefully to prevent a law suit.

I leave you with a quote from L. Ron Hubbard: "News media is parasitic on those who make news. It is not true that those who make news need the news at all. Who needs cancer?"

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Latest Video from Michael Duff

Michael Duff writes great songs:

A culture is only as great as its dreams, and its dreams are dreamed by artists. — Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard

Friday, December 07, 2007

Will Smith on Tom Cruise and Scientology

Here is another unbiased outside observer giving his opinions about Scientology.

Will Smith Defends Tom Cruise & Scientology

A culture is only as great as its dreams, and its dreams are dreamed by artists. — Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard

Sunday, December 02, 2007

"Converting" to Scientology

I've recently seen several articles about Usher "converting" to Scientology. (Example: Usher Scientologist; Usher Converts To Scientology). Not being a close intimate of the singer I can't confirm or deny the reports about his interest in Scientology, but I can tell you that he has not "converted" to Scientology because there is no such thing as "converting" to Scientology.

The problem with the word "convert" is that it carries the connotation of rejecting one religious belief and adopting another. That is not how Scientology works. Most Western and some Eastern religions are exclusive, meaning if you are in the religion then you can't be in another one. So, for example, if you are a Christian you can't also be a Muslim. Scientology is not an exclusive religion, instead it is inclusive, meaning that you can be a Scientologist and member of another religion.

That's a difficult concept to get your head around if the only religions you are familiar with are those originating from the Middle East, such as Christianity, Judaism or Islam. Scientology is a religion of wisdom rather than belief and it contains no dogma about God (or Jehovah or Allah or Godhead or whatever other term you want to use for that concept). Instead it contains knowledge, principles and workable practices for living life and improving yourself spiritually. Because it deals with fundamentals that most religions barely touch upon and it does not make pronouncements about the things that most religions do, then it is possible to be a Scientologist and a member of another religion.

A good description of this is given in the Scientology FAQs: "Scientology seeks to bring one to a new level of spiritual awareness where he can reach his own conclusions concerning the nature of God and what lies in store for him after his present lifetime. Thus, like many Eastern religions, salvation in Scientology is attained through personal spiritual growth and enlightenment." (from: Does Scientology have a concept of God?)

So, next time you read that some celebrity has "converted" to Scientology you will know how much hard research the journalist reporting the event has actually done and you'll be able to evaluate how accurate his reporting is.