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Fluff, troubling fluff

No, I don't care about TomKat more than I care about Iraq, or London, or Rove, or Washington DC cat-killers. But I do care, for some reason, about the mental decline of Katie Holmes.
 
 
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I didn't intend to blog today, because I'm not at work. And I know the subject of this post might annoy some readers, who think that much of what I've been writing here lately is Tom/Katie this and Scientology that and Stepford-GF this and Thetan-clogged that.

My apologies, in advance. If you don't like reading about the rapidly-downward-spiralling reputations of Tom Cruise and his "fem-bot" girlfriend Katie Holmes, stop reading -- you've been warned.

But I've come across some information of interest. First, a piece by Rebecca Traister of Salon.com, which eloquently summarizes everything I'd been thinking about the TomKat crusade.

Traister refers to a seriously-frightening interview with Holmes in the new issue of W magazine , in which Holmes literally answers the reporter's every question with a vapid, nonsensical "Tom Cruise!!! I'm in love!!!!"-ish response.

"I've found the man of my dreams," "I've never met anyone like Tom," "Tom is the most incredible man in the world," "Meeting Tom -- I'm just exhilarated. He makes me laugh, we have fun, we understand each other, everything is so aligned. I feel so lucky and so -- like I've been given such a gift ... And it's just really amazing." These are Holmes' non sequitur replies to Haskell's questions about everything and anything, including her recently dissolved five-year relationship with ex-fiancé Chris Klein.

Traister also succinctly sums up why Holmes' transformation has been so alarming for the general public, and the gossip-lhungry media, to observe:

It's profoundly sad that Holmes seems not just to have drunk the Kool-Aid, but to be wearing the pitcher it was stirred in over her head. But it's just as sad that because we are celebrity imbibers first and human beings second, we can't bring ourselves to politely look the other way as she stumbles around...But it may be time to reconsider the ways we're ingesting our culture. We are so used to seeing "real people" do surreal and insane things -- eating bugs and getting dropped off on dangerous islands and making and breaking engagements like they're first dates -- that nothing makes a dent anymore...But sometimes people need real help -- like in life, not on television. Katie Holmes may be one of those people. What are we supposed to do when our fluff becomes deeply troubling, but remains fluff?

Ahhh, thank you; you've hit the nail on the head. What are we supposed to do in a situation like this? When a BS celebrity love affair devolves from pure, lighthearted fluff to scary -- actually sinister -- fluff...?

It's the first time someone's sanity has seemed to unravel before my eyes. And the fact that Holmes is a 'starlet' makes it all the weirder, the more surreal. I know she doesn't matter on a global scale; she doesn't even affect me on a day-to-day level. But what she represents DOES.

She's around my age. She lives in New York, my home -- until recently -- for 5 years. She's from a nice, normal, middle-class Ohio family. It's not every day that we see something like this happen in the public eye: a seemingly smart (she deferred from Columbia University before accepting a role on "Dawson's Creek") and decent young woman -- succumb (willingly?) to something that looks a lot like madness.

No, I don't care about TomKat more than I care about Iraq, or London, or Rove or the Supreme Court or domestic violence or rape or even scary cat killers here in DC (the Washington Post had a series of articles about a local woman who collected 400-something stray cats; 200-something were dead. She got arrested, but I can't find the article online right now.).

But I do care, for some reason, about what's happening to Katie Holmes. Maybe it's just worry; empathy, natural human concern. Maybe it's morbid fascination. Maybe it's my feminist sensibilties, which loathe watching a woman give herself up, so wholly and utterly, for a man -- especially when that person's such a schmuck, like Tom Cruise.

Anyway. On a final note: Paris, France has refused to give Tom Cruise honorary citizenship of the city (where he recently proposed to Holmes), calling him a militant "sect symbol" for Scientology. Awesome.

Laura Barcella is an Associate Editor at AlterNet.