I’m not suggesting either one of these is the “true” Tom Cruise, but rather that the ongoing battle—and it is a battle, where Cruise regularly threatens or files lawsuits countering these stories—to define his stardom. But I view the couch-jumping moment as a watershed one that speaks to two key elements of the construction of, and battle over, the contemporary celebrity image. First, it reveals the key role of celebrity workers behind that image. Cruise split with long-time publicist Pat Kingsley, whom many credit with the tight crafting of his image, the previous year. Kingsley’s influence was felt in her absence, as the era of the more “crazy” Cruise began. More crucially, this couch-jumping moment coincided with the rise of the Internet as a source of constant celebrity gossip and surveillance in the mid-2000s. The couch-jumping video went viral, making it a centerpiece of Cruise’s current celebrity image. But it also marked the beginning of increased intervention of online gossip media (notably blogs) into Cruise’s image. Cruise was certainly subject to rumors and covered by gossip media before, but continuous and interactive flow of online gossip has played an important role in shifting that image. The Internet offers bloggers and their audiences the publicly visible space to dissect Cruise’s public image, intervening into what was once private and controlled and highlighting gossip as the central way celebrity images are made in contemporary celebrity culture.
Erin, Your piece does an
Erin, Your piece does an excellent job of framing the discourse around Tom Cruise's persona and his function as a star. The notion of a battle between myriad modes of Cruise's stardom is I think a really useful way to consider how Cruise's screen persona can be used to diffuse the often public battles which Cruise has engaged in with the media and those in the industry who have questioned both his profitability and his sexuality. A final thought for me concerning the role of social media is whether embracing Twitter would help Cruise stabilize his image or perhaps lead to more chaos if he were to provide the culture with a 'supposed' look at his life.
Thanks, Erin for your piece and for reminding us how precarious the management of stardom can be. I especially like your take on Cruise's hyper-visibility - it reminds me of how closely Scientology regulates those sanctioned for global visibility and those it considers invisible - the furor over Shelly Miscavige's disappearance speaks to this, I think.
Cruise Jumps the Shark
Thanks for this post, Erin! This moment is so interesting, especially given Oprah's open acknowledgement in this clip of Cruise's behavior and its incongruence with his guarded image. And, of course, it also sets the stage for the narrative surrounding Cruise's relationship with Katie Holmes--what I remember more than the actual jumping, fist pumping, etc., is Cruise actually chasing a reluctant, embarrassed Holmes and marching her onto the set.
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