Shiny & Free
From the wonderful Village Voice:
Hey, Scientology Celebrity, Here's Your Media Training Checksheet!
Our readers send us the most wonderful things. By e-mail and snail mail, our far-flung correspondents put in our hands Scientology's tasteless fundraising mailers (which we use in our recurring Sunday Funnies posts), they send us over-the-top glossy Scientology magazines, and of course they send us links and videos of Scientologists doing the darndest things.
And then, recently, in the mail, one of our readers sent us some pure gold.
It is a five-page document, and it may be the most precious, hopeful, earnest, presumptious, and ultimately dictatorial artifact I have seen come out of the church in some time.
It is a checksheet, and it is designed to instruct a new celebrity recruit in the arcane ways of L. Ron Hubbard, and how to take Hubbard's greatness to the outside world by learning how to speak to the press about such monumental things.
Five pages. About 50 individual steps. Involving the writing of essays, summarizing of books, using specific words in sentences. And the steps must be done, the document says, in sequence. No exceptions.
One of the steps has the celebrity solving a PR problem by modeling it in clay.
Hey, Tom? Tom Cruise? Um, did you learn how to talk to reporters by first modeling it in clay?
Before I get into specifics about the document, I want to thank the person who mailed it to me, who I am not going to name. (However, if you do want credit it for it here, please e-mail me to let me know. You know who you are.)
The checksheet on its own is a hoot, and provides an enjoyable window into Scientology, particularly of its era. But trying to learn about its provenance and its legacy took me on a bit of a goose chase that in itself was revealing and fun. After I give a more detailed description of the document, I'll relate what I learned from talking with various former Scientology executives who worked with celebrities over several decades.
But first, here's the top portion of the first page, to give you a sense of it: