“His Masters Voice”

By Geisha Bar

With the release of director Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film – The Master – a feature that’s pretty much centered around the supposedly humble beginnings and subsequent rise of a fictitious Scientology analogue named The Method, headed by a bloated Hubbard look-alike, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman – I thought it might be interesting to comment on how little has really changed since Scientology’s infancy: even during its relatively harmless beginnings it has has been treated with suspicion and ridicule – and despite the cult’s reputation as being highly litigious, it has done little to alleviate itself into a positive position just about anywhere. And it’s not surprising, really: just from my own couple of encounters with Scientology, it’s pretty apparent that the whole organisation is almost entirely incompetent.

Scientology’s recruitment practice preys on weakness and boredom, so that’s as good an explanation as any as to why their primary workforce consists mainly of the homeless and the mega-rich: or, people with no money or people with so much money that they have nothing better to do with it than to buy their way into a cult’s upper echelons. Anyway, the former group makes up the majority of the brainwashed faces you see on the street or sitting behind tables trying to pawn expensive DVDs, and the basement that serves as the official Perth branch of Scientology is no exception. When I visited it a few years ago it was staffed by a be-glassed Russian woman whose accent fulfilled every possible soviet stereotype ever conceived, sitting alone by herself in a corner of the under-furnished basement while Michael Jackson’s greatest hits played from a CD player in the cupboard. She wasn’t particularly intimidating, nor a thing she said particularly comprehensible. Except for when she tried to pawn off a copy of Dianetics for about $70.

Keep in mind that this is a cult suffering some serious membership and recruitment drama – so obviously this Russian lady was their best hope at making our their group to be a pretty attractive prospect to the whole population of Perth, and had no chance at all of just making the whole Scientology thing just seem even more creepy and weird. Not that Tom Cruise or John Travolta or any of those other celebrities who are caught up in it do much of a better job in convincing anyone outside of Scientology that it’s normal. But if you’re a member of a religion that potentially originated from a practical joke between two science fiction authors, you’re probably not going to have the best time convincing anyone of anything, anyway.