While looking for material for this site, I have found a few references to Scientology which are too short (or too daft) to warrant a post in themselves.
Perhaps readers are due a little comic relief, so I decided to to post a collection of these items. Since I first posted it, I have returned and posted new material.
If anyone would like to suggest new additions (i.e. funny references to Scientology that won’t fit in anywhere else) please leave a link in the comments section below and I will consider adding them, too.
So far, the odds and ends include:
- A reference to Scientology in Old Harry’s Game (A BBC Radio comedy programme) in which Satan himself comments on the origin of Scientology
- Two scenes in the film “Religulous” by Bill Maher . In the first, he declaims the Xenu story on Speaker’s corner (in London). The second features a short extract from his stand-up comedy act
- The Futurama episode “Hell is Other Robots” (season 1 episode 9) in which Bender joins the ‘The Temple of Robotolology” – a thinly disguised version of The Church of Scientology
- The Simpsons episode “The Joy of Sect, in which Homer joins the Movementarians (a cult based on elements of Scientology and other controversial New Religious movements)
- An episode of Lewis Black’s “Root of All Evil” – a comedy court case which pits Disney against the Church of Scientology to decide which is the Root of all Evil
- Kamphues Boeit – Anonymous and Scientology- A TV programme from the Netherlands, in which a comedian selects a person for an interview and then handcuffs himself to his subject. In this short extract from a longer programme, he speaks with members of Anonymous and then approaches a Scientology Org and tries (and fails) to handcuff himself to the Scientology functionary who appears to ‘handle’ the presenter and film crew.
- A recent episode of “It’s always Sunny in Philadelphia” where a character occidentally starts a cult (initially to prevent a room-mate eating his thin mints…)
- An segment from “Saturday Night Live” which lampoons Scientology under the name of ‘Neurotology”’.The Tom Cruise Fan App (for Android ‘phones) which is perplexing. Who was it made by? Who is it aimed at? Why bother? I don’t know.
There are links to several more programmes which satirise Scientology on the page “Scientology in Popular Media. These include “South Park”, “The Mentalist” and “Millennium.” My post “Satire and Scientology – Do’s and Dont’s“, which includes the BBC comedy “Life’s too short”, and the US Nip and Tuck.
If you only watch one, make it the “Millennium” episode, which I cannot recommend too highly for sustained invention and real satirical humour.
Old Harry’s Game
2009 | Old Harry’s game |series 7 Episode 1
Old Harry’s Game is a long-running and very funny BBC Radio 4 programme. It is based on the premise that Satan (who, remember, was once an angel) consoles himself by chatting to damned mortals (including ‘The Professor’ and his wife Edith) whom he takes a shine to.
You can get an idea of the style of the show from this brief pilot for a stop motion animation which, sadly was not to be.
The reference to Scientology is as follows:
Satan (musing) “If you can’t solve a problem, destroy it…”
Edith – “It’s a mindless philosophy”
Satan – “Yes…yes.. it is – totally mindless – and yet strangely attractive – a bit like Scientology….. which, er, I invented, as it happens”
Edith – “L.Ron Hubbard invented Scientology”
Satan – “Yeah, but he got from me. I spotted him in this bar – he was pissed and I was bored so, uh, I made up this religion. Well, I say “I made it up”, I actually got most of it from an old episode of Flash Gordon. Anyway, I told it to L.Ron Hubbard and he dutifully wrote it all down, got his books published, founded Scientology, and the rest, as they say, is bollocks.”
Beginning in Megiddo in Israel (which will be, according to the biblical book of revelations, the site of the final battle that will bring about the end of the world) Maher takes a tour of world religions, by speaking to prominent believers belonging to various world faiths (including some of the more extreme sects – e.g. creationists and the notorious Westboro Baptist Church).
Maher has never been able to take religious beliefs seriously. His sceptical approach to the believers he manages to talk to is direct and uncompromising, but fundamentally respectful. Personally, I sympathise with this approach – I, too, was born without a religious bump in my brain.
At 56:33 he covers Scientology very briefly indeed. He ‘preaches’ Scientology doctrine and the Xenu story at Speaker’s Corner (in Hyde Park, London) where he is crowned with balloons by one of the spectators (no, really). This is followed by a short excerpt from his stand-up routine.
Some may accuse him of mockery – I see a man who is astonished by people who hold and defend a bewildering variety of inherently implausible beliefs.
1999 | Hell is Other Robots | Futurama Season 1 Episode 9
According to Wikipedia:
The Temple of Robotology is a spoof of the Church of Scientology, and according to series creator Matt Groening he received a call from the Church of Scientology concerned about the use of a similar name. Groening’s The Simpsons had previously parodied elements of Scientology in the Season 9 episode “The Joy of Sect.” In a review of the episode, TV Squad later posed the question: “Is the Temple of Robotology a poke at the Church of Scientology?” When TV Squad asked actor Billy West about this, he jokingly sidestepped the issue.
Having mentioned “The Joy of Sect”, I suppose I will have to post links to that programme, as well.
1998 | The Joy of Sect | The Simpsons | Season 9 Episode 13
According to Wikipedia:
The writers drew on many groups to develop the Movementarians, but were principally influenced by Scientology, Heaven’s Gate, the Unification Church, and Peoples Temple.
This being the Simpsons there is a little of everything in there – including the kids being ‘deprogrammed’.
In episode 6 / season 2 of a US TV series entitled “The Root of all Evil”, Disney was pitted against Scientology in a comedy ‘court case’, which aimed to to decide which of the two accused actually are “The Root of all Evil”.
A TV programme from the Netherlands, in which a comedian selects a person for an interview – and then handcuffs himself to his subject. In this short extract from a longer programme, he speaks with members of Anonymous and then approaches a Scientology Org where he tries (and fails) to handcuff himself to the Scientology functionary who appears to ‘handle’ the filming.
2015 | Ass Kickers United: Mac and Charlie Start a Cult Season 10, Episode 10
The premise of this episode is that one of the characters is tired of another stealing his thin mint cookies. Using the pseudonym, “The Master” he creates a newsletter for a cult based on health and fitness. Eating thin mints is forbidden. It works…
When ‘The Master’ admits this to others, they wonder just how much they can manipulate the behaviour of their new followers. The first step it to persuade them to renovate an apartment. Predictably, it all goes horribly wrong. Scientology obviously inspires this daft scenario because:
- The first flier looks as it it has a volcano on the cover…
- The combination of exercise and wearing stickers on the forehead to optimise vitamin absorption resembles the ‘purification rundown’ (sitting about in the bath come later)
- The next newsletter contains the advice that, “Kicking ass in life is all about drywall. To be a total badass you must learn carpentry”. This fits the plot – but Scientology watchers might also see a reference to the Ideal Org programme (where renovations performed by Sea Org labour) and David Miscavige’s bizarre boasts, in speeches, about the amount of drywall installed during Ideal Org renovations.
- When women are admitted, and the renovation begins, members begin to have doubts and the manipulation is stepped up. Scientology is the obvious inspiration for this proposal (at 11:37) “I was looking in to what cults do to force people into labour when the mind tricks don’t work, and one of them was a personality test, right? You basically just get a bunch of dirt on people and you hold it over their heads”. To drive the point home a machine that looks a lot like an e-meter is used to measure, “Guilt stressors” which sound a lot like “overts and withholds”
We come up to date when level 2 is invented… you can buy in to level 2 (“Status” anyone). Then civil war breaks out among the ‘leaders”. finally Lord Zolo (not Xenu… Zolo) then makes an appearance, to take the faithful to the mother-ship…
This lovingly-executed spoof came in the wake of the broadcast of Alex Gibney’s documentary film “Going Clear“.
It captures the ‘style’ of Scientology video productions (80’s visual effects amateur acting, cheesy scripts, VHS quality &c) perfectly.
Most of the sequences are clearly based on actual Scientology videos, notably the ‘sing-along’ segment – the ‘original version’ prominently featured Scientology’s current ‘leader’, David Miscavige when he has younger, and before he came into power. .
The satire (an example can be seen in the picture above) is spot on too. Many Scientology videos have been withdrawn because a significant number of people featured in them have since left the Church. Many were expelled or (worst of all) left and became prominent opponents.
Critics suggest that the reason publicity photographs of Church of Scientology properties typically show pristine empty buildings is that, if they are photographed with members inside, masses of literature will have to be replaced whenever anyone in the picture is expelled or leaves. Many early videos have suffered the same fate.
This spoof is brief, detailed and bitingly satirical. It is exactly the sort of thing that the mass media would not have dared to broadcast for fear of legal (and extra-legal) retaliation from the Church of Scientology.
It is likely inspired by a leaked video of a real ‘inspirational’ sing-along to a Scientology anthem entitled “We Stand Tall”. A younger version of the present ‘leader’ of the Church of Scientology, David Miscavige, can be seen in the front row.
Almost everyone else in this video (all people were highly placed in the organisation) have been expelled, left, become open critics or have been ‘disappeared’ (and are probably under Scientology’s version of ‘house arrest’ in a number of secure compounds) since Miscavige took power.
Here is part of the reality, which even ‘Saturday Night Live’ will only approach through satire (click on image to see larger version in new tab.
The Tom Cruise Fan App
What is Scientology?
Concepts about Scientology
Movies with Tom Cruise on YouTube
This is a strange application. It offers to provide the user with Movies featuring Tom Cruise – but only delivers links to Cruise movies on YouTube. Since these uploads are likely in breach of copyright, many of the links provided are likely broken most of the time. You would better off searching the site yourself.
The information about Scientology it promises comes in the form of links to Scienowiki a Wiki site started by a member of the ex scientologist message board. As you might expect, this is not particularly sympathetic to the Church of Scientology.
Silvio Apps provides several similar programs (e.g. the Avengers Fan App, Spiderman Fan App) which all work in the same way. I suspect that the app creator is trying to reach Scientologists in same way he is trying to reach comic book fans and e knows little or nothing about Scientology.
The app description does state:
Please note that with this app you will receive a few search points on your device, all are easily deleted or replaced. Thank you for your understanding.
I suppose the question would be settled by installing the app and seeing what search points are added – and to whose advantage.