The New, "Urban" Tom Cruise
Imagine my surprise when I got my annual invitation to the Urbanworld Film Festival this week and found, mirabile dictu, that Tom Cruise's Collateral will be screened opening night.
It's not that Urbanworld (which is, by the way, far and large the best place in the world to "hook up" with gorgeous women of color; trust me on this one, true believers), is not "keeping it real," per se -- quite the contrary: Tom Cruise, it appears, is metamorphosing into an urban persona. How cool is that?
In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Tom and Jamie actually showed up at the opening of Urbanworld, surprising the mostly African-American, Asian and Latino audience into disbelief. Tom Cruise hasn't been the old Tom Cruise in a while, youknowwhatImean? He's lost the magic.
The "Tommy-Boy" shtick with Rosie O'Donnell got really tiresome, really, really fast. And Tom Cruise's on-screen persona, which Artie Lang, the Howard Stern sidekick, acutely observed, was "too contrived," wore on our last nerve as well. Too much fucking vanity was being projected from those hawkish eyes and that studied, plastic, boyish-cocky grin. It was time for a makeover.
Tom Cruise was Brian Flanagan, the best damn drink slinger; we knew him as Cole Trickle, the best damn race car driver; he was fucking Maverick, and, as we all know, "Mav" was the best damn fighter pilot in the US Air Force; he was Ethan Hunt, the best damn covert agent; he was even Detective John Anderton in Minority Report, the best damn detective, with the help of those eerie Precog's; let's face it, throughout the 80s and 90s, Tom Cruise was the best damn everything.
Of course, there is a backlash to wanting -- needing, really -- to project oneself onto the American consciousness as an icon of perfection, and the backlash is a bitch. We, infected with the virus "democratic leveling," as the eminent American observer Alexis Henri Charles Maurice, Count de Tocqueville, described it, wanted to tear him down; that is a drawback of a democracy that emphasizes equality over an aristocratic hierarchy and the concept of excellence. Really bring him down a notch.
Tom noticed and changed his game rather abruptly. He got rid of his publicist, Pat Kingsley, replacing her with his sister, Leanne Devette.
Tom Cruise is more accessible than ever. And now, the new, "urban" Tom Cruise, playing straightman to Jamie Foxx in Collateral, appearing with him on the ESPY's and the MTV Movie Awards, presents himself as no longer invincible. And, frankly, I like that.