22
Jan
2011
Random Pop Culture Top Ten List
Top 10 Scientologists We're Willing to Forgive
Jordan and Sam
Random Pop Culture Top 10 List is a (fairly self-explanatory) weekly list in which Jordan and Sam take stock of the realm of pop culture, and come up with their Top Ten in a specific category.

Scientology is an insane "religion". According to its tenets, we are all immortal and only die because we've forgotten this. It also teaches that Earth was the center of an alien genocide and that we are now all filled with alien souls that must be removed by paying the church vast sums of money. Also, for good measure, it was invented by a science fiction writer who notoriously said that if you want to be rich invent a religion, it rejects all notions of psychology, and it keeps its actual beliefs hidden from members until they ascend to high enough levels to hear the shit the "Church" is shoveling and not break out in laughter. And yet, in spite of all of this madness, scientologists run rampant throughout Hollywood. Whenever we hear that someone we like is a scientologist around Review To Be Named, we're immediately disappointed and inherently think less of the person. Here, however, are ten people awesome enough to allow us to look the other way:

10.Jason Lee

Over the last couple of years Jason Lee has fallen out of favor with many of his fans thanks to his tepid television career playing Earl of "My Name is Earl" notoriety and now some detective on TNT or is it USA? It's all the same. But before that he was a darling of the Kevin Smith cult. He's appeared in Mallrats, Dogma and Chasing Amy to just to name a few. He's earned major cred by starring in The Incredibles as Syndrome. Anyone who's cool enough to hang out with the Pixar folks can't be that insane, right? So we'll give Jason Lee another shot even though he's a nutty Scientologist.



9.Candice Bergen

She may believe that aliens are inhabiting her skull, sure, but Bergen is also a class act and a first rate comedienne. While she has turned in solid work in Carnal Knowledge, Starting Over, and Gandhi, she is also part of what made Miss Congeniality a vaguely watchable movie. On the television side is where she really shines, though, winning 5 Emmys and 2 Golden Globes on Murphy Brown and turning in a stimulating, scintillating, hilarious and shockingly sexy performance as Shirley Schmidt on Boston Legal. She has also done memorable guest star work on Seinfeld (playing herself on Murphy Brown), Sex and the City, Law and Order, Will and Grace, and House. But most importantly, she plays well with Muppets, and we just can't stay mad at someone like that.



8.J.J. Abrams

Some people may hate the creations from the mind of JJ Abrams, but one thing's for sure--he's very good at what he does. Whether it's masterminding a genius marketing campaign for a pretty shitty movie (Cloverfield), rebooting a beloved franchise without compeltely alienating a base while still allowing newbies into the club (Star Trek) or creating one of the most watched and water cooler worthy shows ever created (Lost). Sure he's dabbled in Scientology, but how could we not forgive someone who gave us Desmond and Penny, Simon Pegg as Scotty and the world's most famous smoke monster? Today, Abrams remains one of the most powerful producers in the industry and hopefully he'll have some cool television and movies in store for us.



7.Will Smith

Perhaps the most beloved Scientologist, he is certainly the biggest box office draw. He pulls in probably upwards of around $20 million a picture. But that's not why we could forgive him for his Scientology connections. Nor is it becasue he's unleashed his children on Hollywood. For our money he's been in some great blockbusters like Independence Day and Men In Black. Sure it seems like he has a propensity for alien flicks (Welcome to Earf!) but he can also act when he feels like it as he's received critical acclaim for playing that homeless dude in The Pursuit of Happyness (We can't forgive that spelling though) and Muhammed Ali. Hopefully Smith can take on some more serious roles in the future because, seriously, he needs to make up for that whole Willow and Jaden thing.



6.William S. Burroughs

That Burroughs rejected all organized religion later in his life helps us to forgive him for his time working with thetans, though he still called the teachings of Scientology "highly valuable" until his death. What really allows us to turn our heads the other way when he goes in for some auditing was his literary work, most specifically Naked Lunch, his subversive, graphic, obscene and sometimes nauseating look at addiction and human degradation. Burroughs weathered an obscenity trial (which he won) and gave the world a lasting and realistic look at the depths of the addicts soul and at the darkness and moral depravity that lies at the outskirts of our society. At the end of the day, the book is more important than the man, but the power of his work is so striking that we're willing to ignore the whole "crazy religion" aspect of his personality. Or at least forgive him for it.

5.Jeffrey Tambor

He may have some very strange beliefs, but at the end of the day, Jeffrey Tambor is just too damn funny to hold it against him. And while City Slickers, There's Something About Mary, Eurotrip, Hellboy, and The Hangover all show off his chops to varying degrees, he really shines in his extended roles on The Larry Sanders Show and most especially on Arrested Development. Being involved in arguably the greatest sitcom of all time is enough to be forgiven for pretty much anything (we let Will Arnett's involvement in the genocide in Darfur slide, didn't we?), and Tambor's work as the selfish, oblivious, horny and desperate patriarch of the Bluth family was always top notch. He was so hilarious that his character, who was originally supposed to appear only in the pilot and on a very recurring basis thereafter was added to the main cast immediately. Basically, if you make us laugh enough, we'll let pretty much anything slide.





4.Leonard Cohen

The pride of Canada, Leonard Cohen is truly one of the all time great singer-songwriters and also a famed poet. His music has been covered by scores of other musicians with the most popular one being "Hallelujah" which any artist worth their weight has coered at some point in their careers. It's truly a beautiful song. It's one of many, wee just wish most of them hadn't been written while he was a Scientologist. But he's not anymore and his music is timeless and can be found in many a movie and television show. Don't think we won't post that song:



3.Jerry Seinfeld

Following the Jeffrey Tambor Principle that comedic skills let us overlook a lot of wrongdoings and missteps, we can't very well hold Jerry Seinfeld's Scientology against him (especially since he claims not to be an adherent, despite continuously taking classes in Scientology and defending it whenever he's asked by journalists). The man was a visionary stand-up comedian who made observational comedy the thing for several years. Beyond that, he was instrumental in the creation of one of the best sitcoms of all time, the eponymously named Seinfeld, and was its most underrated cast member during the show's legendary 9 year run. He was never the strongest actor, but his ridiculous reactions and straight-man capabilities kept the lunacy going on around him in perspective. His stint on the last season of Curb Your Enthusiasm also reminded us just how much we liked Jerry and how great his chemistry with Seinfeld co-creator and head writer Larry David continues to be even a decade later. Sure, we have to ask, What's the deal with Scientology? But we're betting he'll give us a pretty funny answer to the question.



2.Neil Gaiman

The premier fantasy writer of our time, Gaiman transcends the usual low brow strictures of the genre and turns in brilliant, fully realized and thought provoking work on a regular basis. His books American Gods, Anansi Boys, and Stardust all play with the genre in interesting ways, and his short children's novel Coraline stands up to the work of Roald Dahl for sheer creativity, verve, and a refusal to talk down to children. But the crowning achievement of his career is Sandman, his epic comics series that along with Allan Moore's Watchmen and Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns is credited with raising the quality of comics and giving them artistic merit for the first time in their history. Sandman is philosophically fascinating, brilliant, intricate, sprawling and flat out phenomenal in its exploration of the nature of mortality and grapples with whether anyone can ever really change. Before Sandman, people scoffed at the notion of a "serious, adult comic." After it, DC Comics created the Vertigo imprint for adults only, and many people (including a few of us here at Review To Be Named) ignored the distinction of comic entirely and placed Sandman among our favorite books of all time. After writing that masterpiece, Gaiman could believe that the world was going to end in 2012 and we'd still forgive him for it.

1.Nancy Cartwright

The news that Cartwright was a Scientologist hurt many Simpsons fan. When news surfaced she had recorded phone messages in her patented Bart Simpson voice to try and sell the wacky cult to people, we were downright angry. But she is Bart Simpson, the character that has brought millions of Simpson fans joy throughout the years. To her credit, she is also a fantastic voice-over artist who has worked on many cartoons over the years. I guess that may be more to the credit of the fantastic writers on the show over the years, but Cartwright gets a pass for being a part of the creation of one of television's greatest characters.



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