Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Mission Impossible 7 is now filming in London. Normally a movie filming across the pond would not be particularly newsworthy. But as we all probably know by now, 2020 is not a normal year.
Some crew members weren’t following the Covid-19 protocols, which led Tom Cruise to unleash an epic rant recently. (The full rant can be found here)
The rant has drawn very mixed reactions. Many people have come out in support of Cruise appearing to take Covid seriously. Others are not so happy with his actions. (like the 5 Crew members that quit).
In Support of Cruise
George Clooney, while on Howard Stern’s show, pointed out:
“He didn’t overreact because it is a problem,”
Covid is, in fact, a problem, and it does not seem to be going away anytime soon. The number of infected is still rising, not falling. It is so bad that 1 in 80 LA County residents have been infected.
When you consider the rising rate of infection and the fact that the filming of Mission Impossible 7 shut down back in February due to Covid, it is understandable that Cruise would take this very seriously.
One criticism of the rant is that it may be a little (or a lot) over the top. But Clooney wisely pointed out that we don’t know what is happening behind the scenes. This very well might be a recurring problem. So it is hard to judge the appropriateness of Cruise's response without knowing more.
The Other Side
According to the Sun: Spencer MacDonald, of entertainment union Bectu, said:
“After a very difficult year for freelancers working in the industry the last thing crews deserve is a multi-millionaire Hollywood star screaming abuse and threatening their jobs.”
This is a really great point that a lot of people don’t want to hear. there’s no proof that screaming about Covid actually does anything. At this point, everyone knows that experts recommend mask-wearing and social distancing. That message has not been effective to this point.
If screaming about social distancing worked, this pandemic would have ended months ago. “Leaders” in government have been telling people to wear masks and practice social distancing for over 9 months. It is clearly not effective at getting people to change their behavior.
So why does Mr. Cruise think screaming will change anything now?
George Clooney also pointed out that Cruise, who is not just an actor (he is a producer), is in a position of power.
“I wouldn’t have done it that big, I wouldn’t have pulled people out. You’re in a position of power.”
A person in a position of power screaming an ineffective message at subordinates is questionable.
To be clear, I don’t call it an ineffective message because wearing a mask and social distancing doesn’t work. I call it that because anyone who hasn’t been convinced to do those things 9 months into a pandemic isn’t going to change now. Cruise’s screaming did more to soothe his ego than to stop the spread of Covid.
Regardless of which side of the fence you fall on, this whole situation was tone-deaf in two ways.
- Take a look at this quote from Cruise’s rant:
“That’s it. No apologies. You can tell it to the people that are losing their fucking homes because our industry is shut down. It’s not going to put food on their table or pay for their college education. That’s what I sleep with every night. The future of the fucking industry. So I’m sorry I’m beyond your apologies. I told you and now I want it, and if you don’t do it, you’re out. We are not shutting this fucking movie down! Is it understood? If I see it again, you’re fucking gone.”
Take a look at the average salary in the movie industry. Then, remember the months of enhanced unemployment people in the industry enjoyed during the early part of the pandemic.
It is the average Americans and the small business owners that are hurting right now, not the Hollywood Elite.
2. Why exactly are movies “essential?”
Restaurant owners are crying over their businesses being shut down in Los Angeles county while Hollywood stays open. All because Hollywood is “essential,” unlike small businesses, which are expendable.
I get that some people can make reasonable arguments for why Hollywood is not spreading the virus. However, all of those “reasonable” arguments go out the window when the protocols are not followed. And if protocols are being followed, why would Tom Cruise be so mad?