Category Archives: Politics

Scientology versus…

…The BBC

Panorama recently tried to do a documentary on whether Scientology still uses questionable practices on its adherents and critics. As they were making it, it inadvertently turned into a documentary about how Scientology relentlessly stalks investigative journalists who try to report upon it.

Cringe as blank-eyed cultists descend upon John Sweeney & crew, like sinister government agents upon a UFO contactee. It’s one of the creepiest things I’ve watched for a while. The whole thing is (currently) available on the BBC website, though some folk have kindly posted it to YouTube too:

Especially worthy of note is Scientology Media Control Operative, Tommy Davis, a man with dark glasses surgically implanted on his face to conceal the fact that he has no eyes. Tommy is the co-star in the bafflingly-unsuccessful Scientological media counterstrike to the BBC programme, a clip of the BBC man finally losing control and shouting at Tommy (after a week of Agent Tommy and his goons following them incessantly and gatecrashing all their interviews). What’s funny about the clip is that, though the ‘Church’ claim it shows Sweeney being unreasonable, it also quite clearly shows Tommy continuing the soulless tirade which triggered Sweeney’s raised voice, and seemingly oblivious to the British man attempting to shout sense in his face.

Anyway, of course, all this merely served to give Panorama probably the biggest ratings boost in its history and make the Scientologists look like a bunch of very paranoid bunnies indeed.

The Scientologists’ counter-documentary is on their website. (YouTube too.) Ironically, its extensive use of CCTV footage—not to mention their seeming ignorance of the notion that journalism sometimes includes ‘criticism’ and ‘hearing other points of view’—merely serves to bolster their position as fucking paranoid.

If you’re not already tired of the whole thing, you can read the BBC/John Sweeney take on it in The Sun (“Sorry for shouting… you creepy weirdos”), and The Guardian (“Panorama backs Sweeney episode”).

…South Park

It isn’t the first time that the tentacles of Scientology have reached out to smother an incisive news documentary. When South Park threatened them, for example the dark priests of Hubbard mobilised celebrity maddy Tom Cruise. By jumping on sofas and threatening not to promote Top Gun 3, the top Scientologist spokes-celebrity, apparently persuaded Paramount (who own Comedy Central) to not repeat the episode.

The bit explaining Scientology’s ‘Genesis Myth’ is only a minute or so long, and worth a watch even if you don’t like South Park. (Yes, it is what Scientologists actually believe. They also believe that your brain may explode if you absorb these secrets without the proper training. You have been warned.)

…The competition

Frankly, if you’re looking for a freaky, buzzword-infused alternative religion promising to expand your mind and empty your wallet, you could at least choose one with its tongue firmly in its cheek.

The Matrix Dezionized

[“Over The Hedge” poster art]I’m pretty sure that this film is illegal. But it’s bloody good.

The tag-line is ‘The True Sequel to The Matrix’. It’s a ‘fan edit’ of Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions, combined, with all the tedious/stupid bits taken out, and some of the ridiculous fight sequences edited down to slightly more reasonable lengths. In all, they’ve cut 120 minutes from the combined films (and added in a minute of footage from the original The Matrix).

This film’s very existance is a wonderful argument for reform of copyright law because, you see, you’re not supposed to be allowed to do this sort of thing. Copyright law prohibits it. There’s an odd notion called ‘Moral rights’ embedded in the Berne (International copyright) Convention, which says that creators of works have the right to say what can be done with them even if, as in this case, the original creators, the Wachowski brothers, were clearly out of their trees when they edited their second two Matrix movies, and this fan-edited version is by far a better film.

It’s not perfect. There are a couple of places, mostly noticeable in the musical score, where the cuts are less than perfect, but speaking as one who thought that Reloaded was shit, and therefore had less than no inclination to see the third one, I thoroughly enjoyed this version. You kind of need to have seen the original The Matrix, otherwise it doesn’t make much sense. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, though.

So you won’t see The Matrix Dezionized in any shops; it’s not going to be on the telly, and the only way you will get to see it is if you throw your morality to the wind and break the law by illegally downloading it from the piratical, naughty Internet.

(Of course, I did think that “The Matrix Reedited” would have been a better title.)