Satire and Scientology – Do’s and Don’ts

satireSatire has been probably been us since we became human – satires were among the first plays,  and popular with ancient Greek theatre-goers.

It’s hardly surprising that Scientology has attracted satirical comment. The mass protests by Anonymous were so effective because they mocked Scientology in an entertaining way – and made serious points while they were about it.

The fact that the Church of Scientology’s reaction was uniformly hostile and humourless made this approach all the more effective. It would probably have been better for the Scientologists to appear to take the mockery in good part but, of course, they did not have that option. L Ron Hubbard directed that, when dealing with critics “Don’t ever defend. Always attack” and his word is scripture.

An inability to laugh at yourself shows great insecurity. It was not always like this – in the early days believers sent themselves up in a periodical called “The Aberee” – subtitled, “The Non-serious Voice of Scientology”. However, as Scientology became more controlling and repressive, humour was one of the first things to go.

Scientology is  satirised in popular media too – and some attempts are better than others. After the break are two short videos. One represents an example of  good, effective satire. The other is lazy and counter-productive (jumping on a popular bandwagon?).

It shows that satire is more than mockery – and that you should be careful to get your facts right.

How to do it Right

2011 | Life’s Too Short Episode 5| Warwick Davis | BBC TV | Download as .mp4

Opening with a Saint Hill Manor lookalike, and moving on to a Tommy Davis lookalike, this very brief segment gets its research right –  and it’s both funny and iconoclastic. While a picture of  L Ron Hubbard looks down, Davis comments:

You definitely need the ‘L’. I mean, who’d follow a chap called Ron Hubbard? Unless he was the captain of your pub darts team… then, maybe.

After that, it’s just a little harder to take ‘Ron, friend of mankind’ quite as seriously, ever again.

Missing the Target

2008 | Nip/Tuck Season 4 episode 18, “Willy Ward” |  Kelly Carlson | Warner Brothers Television | Download as .mp4

  • The scriptwriters seem to have decided to take the Church of Scientology’s claim that auditing is  a form of ‘counselling’ at face value . The two characters chat, like a conventional therapist and client. There is no e-meter in sight.
  • Surely, this kind of exchange would be considered “verbal tech” and strictly forbidden
  • ‘Porno Xenu’? – that’s  a cheap shot – mockery, not satire.
  • The auditor character says “We don’t talk about Xenu – that’s for OT7 and higher [….]”.
    • So why did she talk about it
    • Factual error: Xenu is actually for OT3 and higher

If you are going to satirise Scientology you should do your research, get your facts right and remember – satire is not just mockery – it’s mockery that makes a serious point.

The Best of the Bunch

selfosophy

For my money, the longest, all-time best (and funniest) satire of Scientology was  a self-mocking episode of the US  TV series “Millenium”  “Jose Chungs Doomsday Defense”.

The references come thick and fast for 90 minutes and they are all on target.

Scientologists should perhaps consider:

  • If ‘the tech’ is so powerful, a little satire can do it no harm.
  • Taking mockery in good part could only improve the image of the Church.
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2 thoughts on “Satire and Scientology – Do’s and Don’ts

    • I suppose, now that the PR tide has turned against Scientology, there is a temptation for the mass media to go for cheap laughs (and ratings).

      All the more reason to publish information that shows that there is more to Scientology than risible beliefs. There is the fact that following many of those beliefs blights lives (e.g. the opposition to modern medicine and psychiatry).

      Programmes like Nip/tuck portrays Scientologists as clowns. We have to remember that some of those clowns are killing themselves and others.

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