Dec 21, 2015

Tom Cruise: All the Wrong Moves

If I were to compile a list of the gay community's biggest enemies, it would include the usual suspects, the preachers who want gays killed, the politicians who want them classified as subhuman, the producers who litter their movies or tv programs with offensive stereotypes.  But near the top of the list, I would place an actor who hasn't said or done any of those things: Tom Cruise.

In 40 movies over a period of 30 years, we find few, if any offensive stereotypes.  In innumerable public appearances, we find few, if any complaints that gay people are plotting the destruction of civilization.  Yet by suing anyone who suggests that he might be gay -- for huge sums -- Tom Cruise continually broadcasts the message that gay people are unspeakably vile.  He is not merely correcting misinformation, he is defending himself against allegations that he is a monster.

Was there ever a time when gay people could find even a moment of hope in any of his vehicles?

Not in the gay-free Mission: Impossible franchise.  Not in his alien-fighting family man in War of the Worlds (2005), heterosexual lives in ruins in Magnolia (1999), or "show me the money" Jerry Maguire (1996).  

But before that, there are many gay subtexts:

Interview with the Vampire (1994): the vampire Lestat (Tom Cruise) bites Louis (Brad Pitt), and they form an alternate family.

Days of Thunder (1990): race car drivers Cole (Tom Cruise) and Rowdy (Michael Rooker) move from enemies to buddies.

Cocktail (1988): novice bartender Brian buddy-bonds with his mentor, bartending pro Doug (Bryan Brown).

The Color of Money (1986): novice pool hustler Vincent (Tom Cruise) buddy-bonds with his mentor, pool hustler pro Fast Eddie (Paul Newman).

Top Gun (1986): a homoromance between air force pilots Maverick (Tom Cruise) and Goose (Anthony Edwards).

All the Right Moves (1983): up and coming football player Stefen (Tom Cruise) buddy-bonds with his mentor, coach Nickerson (Craig T. Nelson).

What happened after 1994 to end Tom Cruise's buddy-bonding roles and transform him into an enemy?  His marriage to Nicole Kidman?  His conversion to the Church of Scientology?  His friendship with John Travolta (who is also quick to "defend" himself against allegations)?

His first lawsuit for a "gay allegation" came in 1996.  Maybe he suddenly realized that gay people existed, that subtexts were possible.