To Boycott Or Not To Boycott John Travolta's "Hairspray"?
I was really looking forward to seeing the remake of the classic John Waters 1988 movie "Hairspray" dismissing calls of some gay groups to boycott the movie. But its star and Scientology follower John Travolta is really not making it very easy to do so.
In a recent New York Daily News article Washington Blade writer Kevin Naff urged gays not to see the New Line Cinema remake (opens nationwide July 20) to protest the casting of John Travolta.
According to Naff, Scientology (John Travolta is one of the most senior members of the Hollywood-based cult), "has operated reparative therapy clinics to try to 'cure' gays."
Since Scientologists are obliged to donate a chunk of their income to the church, "by going to this movie, gay people are literally putting money into an organization that seeks to cure them."
That's a fair point. On the other hand, the success or failure of "Hairspray" at the box office may not necessarily have anything to do with how much money John Travolta puts into Scientology.
Plus, if one did that then they'd also have to boycott all movies and TV shows starring Tom Cruise, Jenna Elfman, Jason Lee and many other Hollywood actors who are members of the Church of Scientology.
Unfortunately, John Travolta goes an ugly step further. In an interview with W magazine the actor addresses the "rumors" concerning his sexuality that resurfaced in September 2006 after National Enquirer published a paparazzi photograph of the actor about to kiss his kids' male nanny on the steps of a private jet in Canada.
"You have to be ready to battle the worst insults, the worst innuendos. People say things that hurt. I think: 'Wow, so because I have money or fame, I don't have problems? I don't have feelings?' OK, I'll try not to take offence at that." So, would that mean that suggesting that someone is gay is a "worst insult?"
This should come as no surprise since the Church of Scientology was established by the late American fiction writer L.Ron Hubbard, who was described by gay columnist Michelangelo Signorile as a "vicious homophobe."
In his 1993 book "Queer in Hollywood," Singnorille discloses the story of a former member of the cult Doug Lindeman who revealed Scientology expects its members to donate large sums of money to the church and treats homosexuality as an abhorrent mental disease one should be cured of.
According to Lindeman, Scientology conducts daily counseling and arranges heterosexual marriages for their gay members in order to "cure" them.
In 1991, National Enquirer published an interview with Paul Barressi, a former personal trainer to the stars and ex-porn star who alleged he and Travolta were engaged in a sexual relationship in the 1980s.
Two weeks after the article was published, the never-married Travolta was suddenly engaged to actress Kelly Preston, a fellow Scientologist. In a 1993 interview Travolta said: "I go to Scientology classes almost every day."
Meanwhile, Time Magazine published an article entitled "The Cult of Greed and Power" disclosing the machinations of the cult. Scientology responded by suing the magazine for $416 million. The decade-long case was ultimately dismissed by courts and the Time story was upheld.
In the article it is written that "high-level defectors claim that Travolta has long feared that if he defected [from Scientology], details of his sexual life would be made public."
In September 2006, National Enquirer once again uncovered Travolta's personal life when they published photos of the actor kissing another man under a juicy headline "Travolta and Pal Ready for Takeoff."
The actor's publicist once again dismissed the "rumors" saying Travolta often kisses other people in a non-romantic way. According to Daily Mail, Travolta was however seething, seeing this as a threat to his position as one of Hollywood’s leading men.
To be fair and honest, before this year's ensemble comedy "Wild Hogs" (the cast also included Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence and William H.Macy) the 52-year old Travolta hasn't really had a hit at the box office since his 1997 movie "Face Off" with Nicholas Cage.
The only Travolta movie to cross the 100 million mark at the domestic box office during that time was "The General's Daughter" in 1999, but the movie tanked internationally.
For this reason, the actor should only be grateful if any gay "rumors" resurface and spark new interest in his on-screen work. And if he wants "Hairspray" to click with the target audience, perhaps he should keep comments regarding "worst insults" to a minimum.
After all, doesn't his quote to Daily Mail about the experience of working on the set of "Hairspray" dressed as a woman reveal a closeted homosexual just waiting to break free:
"It must have worked since guys from the crew were hitting on me. I was so flirted with and so groped! I was convinced I was a slut because I was like: 'Go ahead - touch me! I don't care!' But as soon as I took it all off, there was a real coolness, like: 'Oh well, it's just him. I liked the other person more.'"