To the surprise of no one familiar with The Church of Scientology’s “why are you hitting yourself?” approach to its critics, Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear: Scientology And The Prison Of Belief, which purports to contain “new revelations about the controversial religion and its famous followers Tom Cruise and John Travolta,” is now the subject of a social media smear campaign.
One day after the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, an account with the moniker Freedom Media Ethics, not quite as flashy as “Psychiatry: An Industry Of Death” but close enough, appeared on Twitter. The account, which as of this writing has 136 followers, links to a website credited to Church of Scientology International which contains a statement describing Gibney’s movie as “glorifying bitter, vengeful apostates expelled as long as three decades ago from the Church, [with a] one-sided result [that] is as dishonest as Gibney’s sources.” The website also compares the film to Rolling Stone’s UVA story and lists disparaging nicknames for each of Gibney’s sources in the film—The Soulless Sellout, The Hollywood Hypocrite, etc.
Gibney and Going Clear producer Lawrence Wright have yet to officially respond to the website (and probably won’t), but they do call for Tom Cruise to condemn the Church’s alleged human rights abuses, something that will also probably never happen. (Cruise is so embedded in the Church, it’s been managing his personal life for years.) The Church of Scientology maintains that Gibney didn’t give it a chance to defend itself in the movie; in an interview with Variety, Gibney says, “we reached out for interviews with the people that were relevant to our story. Scientology wanted to send us a delegation of 25 unidentified individuals, presumably to smear the people in our film. I wasn’t interested in that.” Going Clear premieres on HBO in March.