Over at the LA Weekly, Amy Nicholson has a pretty amazing piece up about Tom Cruise—that also happens to be about a whole bunch of other stuff. "How YouTube and Internet Journalism Destroyed Tom Cruise, Our Last Real Movie Star" is about Cruise, true, but it's also about technology, Hollywood, Oprah, news, and gossip (in particular, the kind dished by the Mercury's own Ann Romano). It's even got an appearance from Portland's Andy Baio (co-founder of the XOXO Fest, one of the guys behind Kickstarter, and—I didn't know this—the guy who first let us all know about Star Wars Kid and The Grey Album). And in looking at how Cruise's infamous couch-jumping on Oprah affected both viral videos and Cruise's career, it starts by pointing out something remarkable:
You've seen it, too. You can probably picture it in your head: Tom Cruise, dressed in head-to-toe black, looming over a cowering Oprah as he jumps up and down on the buttermilk-colored couch like a toddler throwing a tantrum. Cruise bouncing on that couch is one of the touchstones of the last decade, the punchline every time someone writes about his career.
There's just one catch: It never happened.
Like Humphrey Bogart saying, "Play it again, Sam," Tom Cruise jumping on a couch is one of our mass hallucinations. But there's a difference. Bogart's mythological Casablanca catchphrase got embedded in the culture before we could replay the video and fact-check. Thanks to the Internet, we have video at our fingertips. Yet rather than correct the record, the video perpetuated the delusion. (Via.)
(Nicholson's piece is also an interesting counterpoint to both the latest issue of Empire, which has a hagiographic feature devoted to Cruise's majesty ["THE LEGEND OF OUR LIFETIME"], and, naturally, Lawrence Wright's jaw-droppingly good Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, which I can't recommend enough, and spends a fair amount of time on Cruise's role in Scientology. Seriously, that book is impossible to put down for a billion different reasons.)