Why enraging Tom Cruise is an effective media strategy!
I never thought I would ask this question of South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker. But is their next musical idea too mainstream?
The creators who brought Broadway hits such as the X-rated Sesame Street musical, Avenue Q, and a farce about Mormonism, The Book of Mormon, have begun work on a yet-to-be-named musical about . . . Scientology!
Now, of course Trey Parker and Matt Stone have never treated any aspect of life as sacred which has definitely shown through their many endeavours together. Their South Park television empire is always controversial. Their first musical, Avenue Q, features songs such as ‘Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist’, ‘The Internet is for Porn’ and ‘You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want (When You’re Making Love)’. And their second musical, The Book of Mormon, poked fun at an entire religion for two-and-half hours as they chronicled two Mormon missionaries’ journey to Africa.
But at the same time, they have been very well received with South Park into Season 16, Avenue Q winning the Best Musical Tony Award over mammoth-musical-hit Wicked, and The Book of Mormon selling out every single night!
So their next musical inspiration worries me a little bit.
In my opinion Scientology isn’t really a controversial subject anymore. The religion and its most famous devotee, Tom Cruise, have been the punch line for so many jokes that they have begun to lose their impact.
The one thing they could lose with this lack of controversy is the media storm that follows the production as audiences begin to expect them to tackle such outlandish subjects. This media storm is ultra-effective because it does a lot of the promotion for the show. By having media outraged at the content, fans of the pair are more likely to go to the show because they know it must be as good as South Park which constantly inflames media outlets.
However, it appears that while the Scientology aspect of the musical may not enrage media outlets, Parker and Stone have found someone else to enrage (which ultimately gets them the media they were looking for) . . . Tom Cruise.
When rumour of this new production got out, guess who caused more news than the actual production? Yes, that’s right. It was our dear friend Tom Cruise in his outrage that the pair would poke fun at his religion (and mainly because he was worried he would be at the end of that stick too!).
So, apparently the content doesn’t matter that much. Parker and Stone had to start losing their shock factor within the general public as we came to expect controversy. But as long as they keep finding things that annoy Tom Cruise they won’t have to do any promotion themselves!
Just in case Tom Cruise reads this blog . . . Tom, I would sleep with one eye open because I think you are about to have a big target on your back.