Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Going Clear

Lowdown: The recent history of the Scientology movement.
Before we start tackling a documentary about Scientology, let us dispense with the pleasantries: people critical of the Scientology movement have been known to personally suffer for it. So I will say this: I am equally against Scientology as I am against all other cults and religions. As far as I am concerned, Scientology is generally no different to Christianity, a religion that got its claim to fame when the Roman Empire sought out a way to control the people. The key difference is that with Scientology, the various myths were created right under our noses with proof to match.
I will add, though, that on the other hand I do have a Scientologist friend who’s perfectly normal (other than the tendency to focus on rather bizarre discussion items). Then again, most people are religious and most people are good people.
With that in mind, let us discuss Going Clear, an HBO documentary whose claim to fame is to do with it getting aired despite of all the litigation threats that go with airing material critical of Scientology. Structure wise, the documentary covers the history of L. Ron Hubbard, inventor and founder of the movement. Then – mainly through interviews with ex Scientologists – Going Clear tracks the movement’s history and handling of itself and the world around it up to our present day. Let’s just say the picture coming through is not a rosy one: it’s a picture of corruption, the usual case of a cult that’s there for power and money, a cult that will tread on people to achieve that. Special focus is dedicated to the cult’s handling of its most famous members, John Travolta and Tom Cruise.
As to answering the magic question of “how did it come down to that”, Going Clear provides two answers. First, it claims Scientology mirrors the mind of its creator, and that creator was not the healthiest mind around. And second, Scientology was dealt an ace from the American government when the IRS, the ultimate decision maker in matters of theology, declared it to be a religion and thus tax exempt. That last point, it is argued, is all it takes to explain the existence of this financial juggernaut in today's landscape.
There can be no doubt as to the side Going Clear takes in this far from impartial documentary. That position can be defended by Scientology's refusal to participate in affairs, but let us not be around the bush here; commons sense prevails. Thus I will argue Going Clear does feel rather slow and tedious. Still, we do need Going Clear to fill in the details.
Overall: If you seek to understand the roots and evolution of Scientology, Going Clear is the way to go. 3 out of 5 crabs.

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