Conspirators are among us

The Universe as Delusion and Science:

Scientology in the Movies

Los Angeles, USA
May 20, 2000
Sueddeutsche Zeitung

by Andrian Kreye

John Travolta is an Operating Thetan of the highest level of clearing, which means, according to the teachings of the Church of Scientology, that Travolta is capable of controlling material, energy, space, time, form and life on the planet earth. Not only that but, as a member of the sect since 1975, the actor has worked had to liberate himself from all negative influences of extraterrestrial powers and reach the stated goal of all Scientology adherents.

But John Travolta is also a superstar of the highest income level, and, according to the teachings of Hollywood, that means that he is capable of controlling budgets, producers, studios and audience. And only on that account was he able to fulfill a dream: "Battlefield Earth," which was written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, was filmed with Travolta in the lead role

The action can be related quickly. In the year 3000, the Earth is dominated by extraterrestrial monsters called Psychlos who keep people on earth as beasts of burden, until a young hero instigates an uprising of the slaves and liberates humanity from servitude.

For years, no studio dared risk this project. The association to the sect was regarded as too precarious, and the book, in spite of 12 million copies sold, as unfilmable junk. Until Elie Samaha approached Travolta. The former nightclub owner had established Franchise Pictures, a B movie production company, in Hollywood with a concept of genius. He took on the dream projects of the stars which nobody else wanted to produce, obtained the rights at a cheap price and talked the stars into decreasing their wage to a minimum. That is how he produced "The Big Kahuna" for Kevin Spacey and "The Whole Nine Yards" for Bruce Willis; in "The Pledge" with Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn directed the production. Such names guaranteed not only prestige in the field, but also a practically unlimited amount of credit, a distributorship and a fat profit.

Psychiatrists are Extraterrestrials

Nevertheless, "Battlefield Earth" was still a delicate matter. It is no secret that John Travolta had had no previous special interest in the genre of science fiction or that he viewed the film as paying homage to sect founder Hubbard, who died in 1986. On the other hand, Travolta is also an especially hot star, and Elie Samaha was not concerned with contextual trivialities. He wanted to make money and play in the big leagues. Neither did it bother him that the conspiracy theories were making their rounds even before the filming began: Scientology was said to be financing the film, coauthoring the script and supervising the production. Accusations which the producers could credibly deny. The high point of the conspiracy theories was that the film contained so-called subliminal messages which could drive moviegoers into the arms of the sect.

That is improbable. In order for subliminal messages, that means suggestive video and sound clips, to have a direct, intended effect upon the unconscious, a person would have to see "Battlefield Earth" for several weeks at least once a day. And that would not drive a person into the arms of the sect, but into desperation, because "Battlefield Earth" is such a painfully stupid work that the New York Times wrote, "It may be somewhat premature, but this is probably the worst film of the century."

John Travolta and his Psychlos - seven foot high creatures with greasy dreadlocks and rotten teeth - stumble around through the film on their platform shoes as elegantly as a crowed of drunken transvestites in ski boots. Even the special effects look like a video game designer programmed them at home on his iMac; and the landscapes of the future are reminiscent of the clumsily drawn cover pictures of the old Perry Rhodan books [a German type of Tom Swift ... trans.].

Of course elements of Hubbard's worldview show up in the film script. One does not need special linguistic knowledge to recognize that the name of the "Psychlo" monsters are rooted in the Scientology teachings. They are based, for the most part, on Hubbard's fanatic hatred of psychiatry. An extraterrestrial population, it is written in the scriptures of the sect founder, had conspired to stop the spiritual development of humanity by use of implants. These extraterrestrial criminals were called "Psychs." Their method was called "psychiatry." Only Scientology can save the world from this.

If the teachings of the Master remind one of simple pulp fiction, that is not completely wrong. In the 1930s and 1940s, Hubbard made a name for himself as an author of pulp and futuristic fiction. He accumulated his first experiences with spiritism in Pasadena with the Ordo Templi Orientis, a sect of adherents of the English Satanist, Aleister Crowley, whom Hubbard ran into in 1945. In the years following, Hubbard developed the pseudo-science of "Dianetics," a combination of science fiction babble, popular psychology and Satanism, which he published in 1950 as a book. In 1954, he founded the Church of Scientology.

Hubbard recognized the effect which Hollywood stars had upon publicity early on. In 1955, he started "Project Celebrity." The first attempt to win celebrities like Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Walt Disney and Groucho Marx for the sect failed. It was not until Hubbard's successor, David Miscavige, established the "Celebrity Center," that a department of the church dedicated exclusively to the task succeeded in tending to and recruiting stars - besides John Travolta, actors like Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and Kirstie Alley, and musicians like Chick Corea, Isaac Hayes and Al Jarreau belong to Scientology.

The "Celebrity Center developed into an extremely effective technique. First the recruiters research the psychological and emotional weak points, the circle of acquaintances and the past of the target person. Then non-obligatory contacts are made. A discussion does not even occur until the "Admiration bombing" phase begins - the complete overwhelm of the star's fragile ego with admiration and attention. The perfect bait for a race of people who are plagued by permanent self-doubt and are on a search for meaning in life. Once the prominent members are won, they are held with therapies, professional counseling and luxurious care. The Church of Scientology has created a position of power with these stars in Hollywood which is to be taken seriously. When the German state attorney's office and Constitutional Security began to investigate Scientology, the sect launched a human rights campaign and wrote a letter to Chancellor Kohl which was even signed by non-members Dustin Hoffman, Goldie Hawn and Oliver Stone.

According to L. Ron Hubbard's plan to gain key positions in society with Scientologists, "Battlefield Earth" is a success. Even if it can be doubted that the film so moved someone that they would seek spiritual salvation in the teachings of Hubbard, John Travolta still provided a $65 million dollar testimony to faith. There he stood in the MTV studio and the moderator boldly asked him about the book's circumstances. Travolta responded briefly with something about Hubbard, the best seller author and spiritual prophet; that was followed by a change of subject, film clips, commercial break and his appearance was over. That is marketing: it is not about praising the message or the product. As long as the Coca-Cola signs are posted along the street, the trademarks will lodge in peoples' minds.

Perhaps John Travolta will even become a martyr of the Church of Scientology. Nobody has accomplished such a formidable comeback as the fallen "Saturday Night Fever" star who had to keep his head above water for years with silly clothes. "Pulp Fiction," "Operation Broken Arrow" and "In the Body of the Enemy" [not sure of English title - trans.] established him as the most sovereign bad guy in Hollywood. All his embarrassing flops were forgiven.

The mood of the theater-going public, though, is unfathomable. One's image can be quickly ruined. And who would take a sect member in a Halloween costume seriously.

German Scientology News