Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes: The Need for Social Censure

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The picture gives away the punchline, but let’s do review the outlines of this story. Work with me here, and pretend for a moment you don’t know who they are:

A middle-aged man who is handsome (I guess), wealthy (in the extreme) and powerful begins dating a fresh-faced, virginal young woman, 17 years his junior. She hero-worships him.

This man has as part of his personal history two failed marriages. The end of both previous marriages is universally acknowledged to have been at his instigation.

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CREDIT: LIMELIGHT

via People

Barely six months after the man and the young woman begin dating, she turns up in public, visibly pregnant.

A spokesperson says that “no wedding date has been set.” Oh, and yes, the couple “is very excited.”

In another era, this couple would have gotten married quietly. And the community would have raised their collective eyebrows and studiously avoided publicly noting how robust the baby appeared when it arrived “prematurely” six, or seven months later.

My critics will race forward to say that in that bygone era the “community” would have made our erstwhile couple feel downright uncomfortable in public. They will point out that “shotgun weddings” might not always have been best for everyone involved.

They will say I’m being judgmental.

Well, so be it.

Let me be clear: I’m not necessarily arguing for a return to shame and stigma full stop. But there is a Shame Continuum.

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We may not want to visit Stigma on their heads . . . but must we celebrate them on the cover of People Magazine?

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22 Responses

  1. Charlie says:

    I think it’s obvious that we’ve become “shameless” as a society, and that has not been a good thing for social behavior. Pop psychology has taught us to esteem ourselves, and often that has meant rationalizing away bad behavior.

    Shame has gotten a bad rap. It is simply an emotional reaction to laws we carry in our consciences. Shame puts the brakes on selfishness. Shamelessness allows us to do whatever we feel like doing. Shamelessness feels like freedom, but from the outside it looks a lot like narcissism.

    I think we’re too far down this river of “you don’t judge me and I don’t judge you” to ever return to the time when people could be shamed in public, but if we somehow did, it would not be a bad thing.

    Thanks for the good post.

  2. Sad isn’t it…here’s what I think. I think Mr. Cruise isn’t very handsome for one, and this relationship with this woman is, well…dare I say incestuous. The age difference is gross and People Magazine should be ashamed of themselves for putting an example of moral failure on the front of their magazine.

  3. BlogWatch says:

    The Shame of It

    Charmaine Yoest (Reasoned Audacity) looks into the celebrated (!) relationship between Ms Holmes and Mr Cruise. She notes:In another era, this couple would have gotten married quietly. And the community would have raised their collective eyebrows and s…

  4. Glenn says:

    Shame has useful social functions. It can be abused, but it should also be used (appropriately). These are the habits of the heart.

  5. Beth says:

    Busybody prude!!!

    (Inside joke, y’all…I’m just teasing Charmaine.)

    You’re exactly right as usual, Charmaine. Why we celebrate this kind of thing is beyond me. It further “normalizes” the behavior, and it’s NOT a good role model for society (especially teenagers and young adults).

    Remember how Dan Quayle was vilified for the Murphy Brown thing? He was right, but everyone took his remarks as being hateful toward single mothers. The liberal elite couldn’t have been more wrong. They just DON’T GET IT.

  6. Glenn says:

    Shame has useful social functions. It can be abused, but it should also be used (appropriately). These are the habits of the heart.

  7. Boy. . . South Park wsa great last night. . . Quick Hits

    And Time Blair thought so too. MVRWC, well, they think’s they’re rich now. I just feel like a baby blogger growing up a bit. Thanks for the contest Beth.(fixed) Dan is reporting that someone has posted Taylor Behl’s livejournal photos…

  8. For Shame

    We’re not as nice as Charmaine Yoest:

    Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes: The Need for Social Censure

    ….

    Let me be clear: I’m not necessarily arguing for a return to shame and stigma full stop. But there is a Shame Continuum

    ….

    W…

  9. The Drill SGT says:

    The problem of course is that there is nobody that that these folks respect that is willing to apply that village shaming process to their behavior. Tom and Katie associate with two basic groups of people, neither of whom think that their behavior is exceptional or not appropriate.

    1. The Entertainment Elite

    2. The Media Elite, if that is considered different than 1. above

  10. suzanna says:

    My teen age children are CONFUSED. It is hard to decifer attraction and frienship. I think, asking their own questions of moral propriety, they are repelled by this behavior to the extreme by judging all romance and friendship with a cynical sneer.

  11. Mel says:

    Great post . . . I just found your blog via another blog, but I can’t remember which. Anyway, I’ll be back! 🙂

  12. Carol says:

    After watching Tom’s behavior, I’m not surprised that he couldn’t muster the maturity to handle the relationship with Katie as an adult. He jumps around and acts like a child, and then he criticizes other celebrities for how they handle their problems. I could have sworn I read somewhere when they first got together that she had said she was saving herself for marriage – but I don’t know where I read it. Apparently, she changed her mind. I’m not impressed with either one of them.

  13. Jane says:

    AMEN! I could not agree more. The whole Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes thing sickens me. It is obviously a publicity ploy. It is my opinion that Cruise wanted to make sure that his name stayed in the public eye. It is being used to boost both careers. The loser in this whole thing is the child they are bringing into this world. Our society does not want to hear anyone speak with the voice of reason. We are just to ‘tolerate’ everyone’s behavior because we all have the right to live our lives following whatever new trend is out there. Thank you for your stand for decency.

  14. Check this out…

    I almost never agree with Charmaine at Reasoned Audacity although I enjoy reading he blog and think her positions are well thought out and sincere. However, she and I agree on this. Check it out!

  15. Bart Nielsen says:

    First off, it was easy for me to play along with you and pretend I don’t know who these people are because I don’t! I have a vague idea that the guy is a movie star.

    OK, now that I’ve established my credentials as a knuckle-dragging troglodyte who doesn’t own a TV and has been to two movies in the last seven years, GREAT POST! I’m all for moving way to the left on your Shame/Stigma-Cover of People Mag continuum. My only small knit to pick is, shouldn’t that continuum have People Mag on the LEFT, and Shame/Stigma on the RIGHT?

  16. In praise of square-ness: Self-respect is not prudery

    When I was a junior in high school, I knocked a tooth out of the head of some guy that called my sister a whore. Today, every girl’s a “ho” and we’re ok with it. I can’t wait to hear some punk assed freak call my daughter “bitch” or “h…

  17. charmaine says:

    Bart — I might just have to redo the thing! LOL.

  18. Cotillion says:

    Witches Ball

    The women of The Cotillion celebrate Halloween! The Salem Witch Trials of 1692 A Brief Introduction The events which led to the Witch Trials actually occurred in what is now the town of Danvers, then a parish of Salem…

  19. Cotillion says:

    Witches Ball

    The women of The Cotillion celebrate Halloween! The Salem Witch Trials of 1692 A Brief Introduction The events which led to the Witch Trials actually occurred in what is now the town of Danvers, then a parish of Salem…

  20. Alec Rawls says:

    They are keeping the baby, they are getting married, and Holmes is no child. Getting the order wrong does not keep this pregnancy from being a proper subject of celebration. May they have a dozen more!

  21. charmaine says:

    Alec: you make an important point. I had thought about adding an addendum to my post to be clear on this issue — if you look back at what I wrote, I think it’s key that there is no wedding date. Will there actually be one? We’ll see. That’s part of the problem with these situations — there may be a lot of talk about marriage, but talk is just talk until they set a real date.

  22. Huntress6 says:

    Tom seems to be of the mindset that while you can’t fool all the people all the time..you can fool most of the people most of the time.

    The publicity surrounding Katie’s pregnancy is yet another attempt to put to bed(pun intended)the “rumours” of Tom’s sexuality, something I cleverly yet not so covertly alluded to in a blogpiece I wrote titled “Risky Business”.

    I shall assume that most of the people (or at least those on this blog) won’t be fooled anytime soon.

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