Thanx to a tip from our friend Jossip this morning, we got to watch the Scientology's orientation video. So like Jossip, we threw some Orville Redenbacher into the microwave, dimmed the lights, and tuned in for some really cheesy canned interviews.
Like our friend Jossip, Our biggest problem wasn't with the film's peddling L. Ron Hubbard's medicine-man-like wares, but rather with the poor production value. One would think with all of Scientology's cash and the fact that they boast some serious star power the least they could have done was whip-up a little special effects besides those awful meteorites in the beginning of the film.
IMDB has this summary:
"okay, this was bad. Unspeakably bad, but to the person informed about the truth about Scientology, kind of funny in a very sad way (think "Battlefield Earth," only worse, and with a lot of the same people involved). The audience won't be getting an unbiased view of this cult, but that's to be expected in a feature produced by the Church. What's unexpected is the degree to which it is pure, unadulterated propaganda, at a level that would make Leni Riefenstahl blush with envy. For example, Kirstie Alley, with a look of seriousness that is unsettling, declares, "Without Scientology, I would be dead today." The viewer is paraded with a number of Scientology suits, each with their own title. (One person, introduced as the "Director of Processing," acts as Orwellian as his job title implies. A sinister, b-movie villian chuckle, and the exacerbated sigh, (paraphrased) "The world out there is such a corrupting influence. We really have our work cut out for us in breaking our new recruits of that influence." Ick.
Nevertheless, the propaganda of this film is produced in such a cheesy way that the film approaches self-parody. When actors like John Travolta are tapped as intellectual spokesmen (no offense to Travolta, but he isn't exactly Stephen Hawking), when L. Ron Hubbard is portrayed as the ultimate renaissance man/prophet/saint with utter sincerity, it's difficult to take any of the film's claims seriously. And as self-parody, you almost don't even need the MST3K crew to heckle the show; one would have to have the intelligence of peanut brittle to be unable to do it oneself.
Despite a rating of 1, I will recommend people see this movie at their local Scientology centers (the only place this movie can be seen), if anything else, for a good laugh, and a view at how intellectually bankrupt this excuse for a film really is. A word of caution though: after this film, I and the group of friends I saw it with were split up and separately "interviewed" by members of the church. They were reluctant to allow us to leave, and were eager to have us confess personal shortcomings that caused us distress and difficulty in life, which of course they alone could solve. How you choose to handle this is up to you, but I ultimately found any attempt at a dialogue futile. I recommend that you treat this situation like you would a telemarketer, politely thank them for their movie and their time, but state you aren't interested and leave. Certainly don't give them personal info like your address and phone #'
See the film for the sheer hilarity of it, but don't expect to see Tom Cruise like we did.
<p><hr><p> From: Mike O'Connor <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Review of the cult's film "Orientation"
Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2006 21:56:21 -0400
Organization: Optimum Online
In article <email@example.com>, "Fred Durks" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Interesting those orientation videos aren't being pulled. Maybe
> scientology feels it's free advertisement, I mean, that's what they
> show to newbies.
By the way, here's a review of the film, first posted here back in 1996:
From: email@example.com (NENSLO)
Subject: New Cultfilm - ORIENTATION
Date: 27 Jul 1996 00:45:56 GMT
New Cultfilm Experience - ORIENTATION "The most important film about Scientology ever made" A blow-by-blow report by O NENSLO "I see 'em so YOU DON'T HAVE TO"
Boy was I happy to see a poster for a Brand New movie at the Scientology center here in Portland Oregon. I've always had a really good time at Scientology movies and think it's a real shame that most people are scared to death of getting dragged into the auditing dungeon and refuse to go see these great free movies with me. Well, the weaklings weed themselves out.
ORIENTATION: A Scientology Information Film is the best yet. There's plenty of nifty computer animation and the sort of stirring music full of KLONNGGGs and glorious electro-dynamic passages that denotes the True Religious Experience we usually see only in UFO movies.
Starting with a not-too-convincing wander through a field of whirling meteors we zoom in on a pristine Planet Earth clearly displaying the most important continent, North America. A neat little communications satellite drifts by, and we are told that this film will "assist you to get around and avail yourself of" Scientology.
There follows shot after shot of the Buildings of Scientology: Flag, Saint Hill, DC, LA, and the TRULY CHEESY cinder-block "castle" of the academy or something in England. Should have left that out .
Next we meet the square-jawed manly spokesmodel whose careful gestures guide us through the following tour of the facilities, starting with the display on Ron's life at the LA center, hosted by the alleged executor of his estate for some reason. I'm happy to see they aren't trying to shovel Ron's pulp-hack years under the rug any more, and we get to see a nice display of lurid covers. Our guide greets the news that Ron wrote "even romance" with a stiff chuckle. NO MENTION is made of his final reversion to hack crap in his Invaders Plan series and Battlefield Earth, or his embarrassing forays into the music world. I learned that Ron was "fully professional" in 29 fields! I wonder what that means! I also learned that "Like Gautama Siddhartha, The Buddha," Ron insisted that he was "just a man." But....
Some time is then spent explaining that Scientology really is a real religion, but I'm not sure how Santa in a bathrobe holding a Spider Monkey helps out with that. The idea seems to be that Evolution gets a firm "no comment" from Scientology, and Santa puts his monkey down to trot off into the woods on its own. A FABULOUS little vignette. ("God made man, but a monkey supplied the glue." - DEVO) The church's validity is further confirmed by a nice long montage of quotes from judicial findings that Scientology really is a real religion, quotes from all over the world, read in appropriate accents in voice-over with the matching national flag waving in the breeze behind the lettering. All this over a continuing barrage of heaps of documents being slammed down on top of other heaps of documents, and gavels gavels gavels, BANGING BANGING BANGING as Scientology is found, over and over again by courts around the world, to be a "bona fide religion" and therefore tax exempt. This is one of the densest montages I've ever seen. and worth the free admission on its own. But there's more.
Suddenly the film takes a heavy anti-government slant, which it revives off and on through the film. Seems the government knew scientology worked and wanted to take it over for their Mind Control program, but good old Ron fought them off, for the good of us all. We are forced to marvel that any one person could be as incredibly superior as Ron appears to be. He EXPOSED the government plan, which inspired years of government hearings, Doesn't say which ones or how they turned out. The Government "never forgave him." I just hope those bastards are happy now he's dead. This would be the same government whose courts, we are told, confirmed that it's a real religion and whose Internal Revenue Inquisition gave the corporation a gold star for promptness and accuracy. I wish the damn government would make up its mind. I think I'll just leave it out of MY movie.
There follows a rather harrowing introduction to bookstore gal with some sort of three word title who lets us know that we need to buy this stack of five books "just to start with" and, with a gesture to the rows and rows of other books she tells us we will want to own them all. This part of the film really seemed to lack an 800 number at the bottom of the screen, especially when she says she'll throw in another little pamphlet as a special gift from her to us. Did you know that Ron wrote 275 books on the Scientology? "All best sellers!" All 275 books, best sellers. I think you HAVE to buy them if you're a Scientologist.
All these goings-on appear to be occurring in the LA center, which is heavy on lush brown wood panelling, neat lighting fixtures and attractive rugs, and we are told the Org center is "usually a friendly place." We aren't told that occasionally the Org center is a dingy sort of joint with nervous and graspingly forward inhabitants who have one eye higher than the other on their face and a very disturbing quality to their language. There are, however, thousands of Scientologists the world over who will be our friends.
Did you know that each Org keeps an office for Ron? Not that he's going to use it, but just as a tradition. Tradition gets stressed a bit. The office is to prove that "we are on source." Somehow. Did you know that "Man has never had a better friend than L. Ron Hubbard"? I didn't either.
Next we visit the head of Auditing, who shows us graphs demonstrating that IQ increases after auditing. Later on we are told "we make NO CLAIMS for scientology." But according to the head of auditing, psychiatry and psychology are "proven failures - STONE AGE!" and that ONLY A LUNATIC WOULD ATTACK SCIENTOLOGY OR SCIENTOLOGISTS! So there, all you wise guys. Lunatics, the lot of ya, with no valid opinions.
At this point we, and we are often referred to by our guide as "these fine people," we, I say, are further stunned by the concept of their Ethics committee where, if we have a complaint against another scientologist we can seek ECCLESIASTICAL REDRESS of wrongs. The term "Scientology Justice System" will pass through this keyboard without comment.
After a quick christening and comments from an Org Chaplain, we get some testimonies of personal healing from folks in all walks of life, anonymous save their occupations across the bottom of the screen. But say, that musician sure looks like Isaac Hayes, and that actor, wasn't he in something recently? Oh, and that gal from Cheers says Scientology saved her life but I guess it can't do much for bloating and baggy eyes. A general indication here is that Scientology also cannot yet help you select a convincing toupee.
Okay, I know you're getting tired of this, as I was, and just in time our guide comes along with a KILLER wrap-up. Seems we are on the brink right now of our NEXT TRILLION YEARS and we can spend it SHIVERING IN AGONIZED DARKNESS or in the clear light of Scientology. We are urged to accept Scientology "for better or worse" (!) and not SLAM TOMORROW SHUT IN YOUR FACE. (?) We can leave this film and never mention Scientology again. We can also jump off a bridge or shoot ourselves in the head - the choice is ours. (Imagine me choking back the howls as this goes on and on.) We don't have to believe or trust them, we will find out for ourselves and prove that "you are a friend of yours" and "what's true for you is true." Then, stirringly, the music swell s, the spokesmodel steps off shot and the doors behind him open onto a white glare from which emerges the word
Only a real jerk would have a sudden fearsome thought of dull thuds on a boarded-up window and the grating moans of the undead crying JOIN US... JOINN USSS... BUT THAT'S JUST HOW I AM.
Much of the content of this film is very obvious damage control, intended to provide an image of openness and sincerity, addressing issues of validity and trust - areas which have been SEVERELY DAMAGED by public access to the church's own teachings. Not a great film but it really has its moments.
Episodic, incoherent, but always entertaining, that's Scientology to me.
-- LYING IS A SCIENTOLOGY SACRAMENT ASK THEM ABOUT XENU Remember Lisa McPherson