This article is supposed to be a puff piece for the new flick Minority Report, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Cruise. Why a puff piece? Because Señors Steve and Tom were pimping the film at a press junket, and protocol dictates that flowery words of praise and awe must follow said junket.

But this paper sent one of its more inept scribblers (i.e., me) to the aforementioned press junket. So what actually follows is a soul-searching (i.e., self-indulgent) stretch of writing on a brush with fame and how it affected a lowly, greasy "journalist" who was obviously way out of his league.

As a summer blockbuster, Minority Report is alarmingly bleak--the type of sci-fi film one would expect from the '70s, more than post-2000. Based on the story of the same name by the great Philip K. Dick, it is an insanely well-crafted chase film with a startling vision of the future.

In recent years, both Spielberg and Cruise have taken their ridiculous success and steered it towards more interesting fare. Each has succeeded and failed, usually in the same film (such as A.I. for Spielberg, Vanilla Sky for Cruise). Minority Report, which is their first collaboration together, succeeds on nearly every level. If you've seen the ads (and how could you have missed them?), then you know the story. But what you probably don't know is this: Each summer season one or two blockbusters completely surprises you. This year, Minority Report is one of those blockbusters.

Being of the rigorously cynical sort, too fucking cool for hazardous P.R. pushing, I walked into the Minority Report press junket with my irony force field at full strength. Junkets are the assembly line of publicity--a tool for flacks to ensure that the "persons of interest" who show up can gain maximum exposure, all of which will be glowingly positive, just because they grace a bunch of starstruck hacks with their physical presence. Therefore, I was ready and willing to sneer upon the entire affair. After all, what the fuck do I care about Tom Cruise? Or Steven Spielberg, for that matter?

The answer: a lot.

One of the residual effects of celebrity culture--which, by the way, we are supposed to be free from in this post-9/11 clusterfuck (but aren't)--is that the famous serve as a reminder just how inconsequential the bulk of us are. Here in America, Cruise and Spielberg and their colleagues are royalty, the rest of us peasants. This is how fame survives--if you keep the masses wanting what you have, then you are in power. And nobody understands this better than Tom Cruise. Incredibly nice, unabashedly "regular-Joe-like" in his demeanor (which may or may not be a con), he breezes into the room with the sort of absurd self-confidence that can only come from being the biggest movie star in the world. He is rich, he is famous, and, so secure am I in my heterosexual casing that I don't feel the least bit of trepidation in stating outright, he is fucking hot--even with braces, and even though he's about the size of a AA battery. In short, he personifies the type of evolutionary glitch we all want to be, even if we aren't willing to admit it.

Roundtable interviews (which is what I attended with Monsieur Cruise) are relatively intimate affairs, with only a handful of writers present, and with Cruise sitting but a loogie's traveling distance away from me, I fell prey to his glorious celebrity glow. I was excited and nervous and I hated myself. Why did I give a shit about him? Why was I such a nervous wreck? My immediate fear was one of latent homosexuality (in me, not him--please don't sue, Mr. Cruise), but I quickly dismissed it (see aforementioned rigid heterosexual casing). No, the real reason was that, although I'm loathe to admit it, Cruise made me feel inconsequential. He chatted us up about how great it was to work with Spielberg and how relevant Minority Report is at this point in history, etc., and as he spoke, I felt myself slowly turning into a peasant. It was horribly depressing.

Tom Cruise was an important person in my eyes, and I don't really understand why. But then, that's probably why he's famous.