Too much religion and politics in today's entertainment!

Recently brought to light were some rather odd political views expressed by War of the Worlds screenplay author David Koepp (highlighted by Glenn Reynolds and Mickey Kaus):

....the Martians in the movie represent "American military forces," while Tom Cruise and the embattled Earthlings represent Iraqi civilians...
Uhhh, OK! But I'll still see the film, because if I'm supporting a Martian invasion I damned well want to know the details!

And right now I'm wondering about whether religion might have been a possible influence (or, possibly, an inspiration) in the making of the film.

In particular, my attention was drawn to this, um "religious" view:

Summary of the Xenu story

The story of Xenu is covered in OT III, part of Scientology's secret "Advanced Technology" doctrines taught only to advanced members. It is described in more detail in the accompanying confidential "Assists" lecture of 3 October 1968. Direct quotes in this section are from these sources. (See also Scientology beliefs and practices)

75 million years ago, Xenu was the ruler of a Galactic Confederacy which consisted of 26 stars and 76 planets including Earth, which was then known as Teegeeack. The planets were overpopulated, each having on average 178 billion people. The Galactic Confederacy's civilization was comparable to our own, with people "walking around in clothes which looked very remarkably like the clothes they wear this very minute" and using cars, trains and boats looking exactly the same as those "circa 1950, 1960" on Earth.

Xenu was about to be deposed from power, so he devised a plot to eliminate the excess population from his dominions. With the assistance of "renegades", he defeated the populace and the "Loyal Officers", a force for good that was opposed to Xenu. Then, with the assistance of psychiatrists, he summoned billions of people to paralyse them with injections of alcohol and glycol, under the pretense that they were being called for "income tax inspections." The kidnapped populace was loaded into space planes for transport to the site of extermination, the planet of Teegeeack (Earth). The space planes were exact copies of Douglas DC-8s, "except the DC-8 had fans, propellers on it and the space plane didn't." DC-8s have jet engines, not propellers, although Hubbard may have meant the turbine fans.

When the space planes had reached Teegeeack, the paralysed people were unloaded and stacked around the bases of volcanoes across the planet. Hydrogen bombs were lowered into the volcanoes, and all were detonated simultaneously. Only a few people's physical bodies survived.

The now-disembodied victims' souls, which Hubbard called thetans, were blown into the air by the blast. They were captured by Xenu's forces using an "electronic ribbon" ("which also was a type of standing wave") and sucked into "vacuum zones" around the world. The hundreds of billions of captured thetans were taken to a type of cinema, where they were forced to watch a "three-D, super colossal motion picture" for 36 days. This implanted what Hubbard termed "various misleading data" (collectively termed the R6 implant) into the memories of the hapless thetans, "which has to do with God, the Devil, space opera, etcetera". This included all world religions, with Hubbard specifically attributing Roman Catholicism and the image of the Crucifixion to the influence of Xenu. The interior decoration of "all modern theaters" is also said by Hubbard to be due to an unconscious recollection of Xenu's implants.

In addition to implanting new beliefs in the thetans, the images deprived them of their sense of identity. When the thetans left the projection areas, they started to cluster together in groups of a few thousand, having lost the ability to differentiate between each other. Each cluster of thetans gathered into one of the few remaining bodies that survived the explosion. These became what are known as body thetans, which are said to be still clinging to and adversely affecting everyone except those Scientologists who have performed the necessary steps to remove them.

Wait a second right there! I now stand accused not only of being a thetan, but of being a bad person based solely upon my thetan status!

I must object, because I see this as just another form of ad hominem attack, precisely the type of thing this blog routinely condemns. Furthermore, it's Nazi-like to condemn all thetans simply because of their ancestry, and it is precisely this type of thinking which led to the rise of fascism!

But alas! There's more:

The Loyal Officers finally overthrew Xenu and locked him away in a mountain, where he was imprisoned forever by a force field powered by an eternal battery. (Some have suggested that Xenu is imprisoned on Earth in the Pyrenees, but Hubbard merely refers to "one of these planets" [of the Galactic Confederacy]; he does, however, refer to the Pyrenees as being the site of the last operating "Martian report station", which is probably the source of this particular confusion.[1] ( Teegeeack/Earth was subsequently abandoned by the Galactic Confederacy and remains a pariah "prison planet" to this day, although it has suffered repeatedly from incursions by alien "Invader Forces" since then.
You mean, WOTW might not be about Bush at all, but about religion?

(Well, I suppose Bush is a thetan, but then, aren't we all?)

Justin, where are you? I need help with religious interpretation.

For his part, Tom Cruise indignantly denies any connection between his religious views (well, it is a religion, isn't it?) and War of the Worlds:

June 24, 2005 —An angry Tom Cruise took on a reporter who asked if "War of the Worlds" resonated with him because Scientologists believe in extraterrestrials.

"That's not true," Cruise told the reporter Wednesday at a press conference with director Steven Spielberg to promote the new film. "It has no resonance whatsoever. There's absolutely no relation to that whatsoever."

Cruise, who is a devoted member of the Church of Scientology, was so stunned that he questioned the reporter's credentials. When told that the reporter worked for the Boston Phoenix, he asked, "Is that a good paper? Really?"

While only Cruise himself can explain what motivated him to star in the film, religious experts say that space creatures do play a role in the Scientology belief system.


How reassuring to know that religion played no part in this film.

I was all set to grill Karl Rove about Xenu.

And the Pyrenees.

posted by Eric on 07.22.05 at 09:33 AM


So why are Thetans bad people? Because they opposed Xenu? But he seems kind of Saddam-like himself--isn't the killing of the Thetans an act of genocide?

And Xenu had curious ideas about how to kill large numbers of people. Why go to all the trouble of H-Bombs and volcanoes and whatnot? (Make them watch movies? Were they Julia Roberts movies?)

Why not just fly the spaceships into a sun? Or shoot them?

The Thetans are getting a bad rap in my opinion.

byrd   ·  July 22, 2005 10:29 AM

Good point. (As I said, I'm woefully uninformed about this religion, and clearly need help!)

Eric Scheie   ·  July 22, 2005 11:26 AM

Wow, this story is so loopy it pretty much debunks itself. Even for the "galactic empire" sub-genre, it's crap.

Let's see...the average population of each planet was about 178 BILLION? What happened to the artifacts such a huge population, in a high-tech civilization, would have left behind?

And how much trouble must it have been to manhandle billions of paralyzed people in and out of space planes?

And why set off the nukes UNDER the ground? Why not in the air, directly over the target, like our own bombs are set to do?

Y'all can keep Xenu. I'd rather have my ass kicked by Xena -- she'd actually make me like it...

Raging Bee   ·  July 22, 2005 1:42 PM

Doesn't this imply that the conspirazoids at PrisonPlanet are secretly a Scientology front?

Actually, that'd explain a lot.

Sigivald   ·  July 22, 2005 4:42 PM

Hmmm.... This "Scientology"? Hmmm.... I have to go and do some things. I'll be back tonight or tomorrow and maybe have some more to say about it all.

For now, I only say: Give that Old-Time Mythology! And the First Amendment: If you want to believe in Scientology or not, I'll defend your right to believe in it or not.

"... a reporter who asked if "War of the Worlds" resonated with him because Scientologists believe in extraterrestrials."

That reporter is in the running for "stupid question of the year". He's even up there with some of the White House reporters, like Helen Thomas.

I doubt that the Scientology weenies are the only people who believe that there's life somewhere other than here.

There's a reason why the secret arcana of Scientology is only revealed to "advanced members" (those that have coughed up Big Bux to get the Word). Anybody else would fall down laughing, but the coughers-up of Big Bux are so far in they can't afford (financially or emotionally) to admit that they've been paying for dreck.

Mike   ·  July 22, 2005 6:23 PM


Another example of why hollywood should stay out out of politics. I want popcorn flicks devoid of pollitical interpretation!

alchemist   ·  July 22, 2005 7:02 PM

Get thee behind me, Thetan...

John "Akatsukami" Braue   ·  July 24, 2005 7:04 PM

Holy Xenu, I knew Scientology was out there, but this is loony bin material.

I can't figure out if Hubbard set up one of the greatest practical jokes of the modern era or if he was simply evil.

Scott   ·  July 24, 2005 10:23 PM

After reading through the Wikipedia entry on L. Ron Hubbard, I would have to lean towards the second possible answer. It seems pretty clear that Hubbard, whatever his talents as an author, was pretty much a pathological liar who probably conceived of Scientology as a cynical way to make a buck.

Scott   ·  July 25, 2005 3:12 AM

Scott, thanks; that was pretty much Justin's reaction. (And to call him well-read in SciFi would be an understatement.)

Eric Scheie   ·  July 25, 2005 9:14 AM

I have actually read and enjoyed quite a few Hubbard books, including "Battlefield Earth" and the first six volumes of his 10-book epic whose name escapes me right now. "BE" was actually very enjoyable, and it's one of the first sci-fi books I remember that gave wide play to intergalactic finance.

Scott   ·  July 28, 2005 4:40 AM

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