You may have seen the short clip put out yesterday by the Associated Press which features voice actress Nancy Cartwright — who plays Bart on The Simpsons — talking about her unhappiness with Lawrence Wright’s 2013 book Going Clear and the 2015 documentary that filmmaker Alex Gibney made from it.
We looked around, but we couldn’t find any evidence of whether this was just an advance look at a larger piece by the AP about her, or about Scientology. It’s just a short thing, and it’s not clear why Cartwright is being asked now about a film that’s been out for more than a year and that garnered three Emmy awards, including the year’s best television feature documentary.
And as for her specific complaints about the book and film, well, they really aren’t very specific. Here’s the entirety of what she says in the clip…
Dude, it’s like you gotta be kidding me. It was such a lie. That book and that movie, I don’t even know what to tell you. It’s called prejudice. It’s like, very irresponsible reporting. You know, anybody wants to find out about it you should find out about it for yourself. It’s called integrity. And, look at me. Look at who I am, seriously. Look what it is that I am doing. You can’t knock me for what it is that I’m doing. I am helping.
There’s a whole administrative technology that has nothing to do with religion it’s just how to run a business. And, it’s crucial. I’m quite trained as a businessperson.
Shame on them, anyway. And the truth is, find out for yourself. Go to freedommagazine.org, or scientology.org and find out for yourself what it is about.
Here’s the clip…
Nancy’s lazy attack on the film (disclosure: we’re in it) doesn’t have us feeling that it needs much defending. But we will make just a couple of points. One of the best things about the film that Gibney and Wright put together is that it’s not just a collection of complaints by former church members, even though that’s what Scientology wants you to believe. What makes the film so powerful, in fact, is that Gibney and Wright worked so hard to pull together amazing footage and documents that come from the church itself.
And it’s the same with Cartwright. She might be falling back on the typical celebrity line, but the truth is her career in Scientology is well documented in many ways. Years ago, NBC actor Jason Beghe told us that the church’s VIPs are specifically trained to handle the press this way. Never to talk about the specifics of Scientology processes, for example (that’s “verbal tech”), and always to say that an outsider should buy a copy of Dianetics and “find out for yourself.”
Well, for decades, journalists and governments have done just that, and the record is not pretty. While Lawrence Wright’s book was an epic achievement, it wasn’t the first time Scientology was laid bare. The essential story — that Scientology sells past-life therapy at huge rates in the promise that a member will eventually achieve superhuman powers — has been told again and again, using Scientology’s own documents, for decades. From the FDA raid of the Washington DC Scientology org (1963) to the Anderson inquiry in Australia’s state of Victoria (1965) to the New Zealand official inquiry (1969) to the Foster Report in the UK (1971) to Paulette Cooper’s expose The Scandal of Scientology (1971) to the South Africa government investigation (1973) to the FBI raid on the Los Angeles headquarters (1977) to the criminal conviction of 11 top Scientology officials (1979) to the devastating ruling by Judge Paul Breckenridge (1984) to the $30 million Wollersheim ruling (1986) to Russell Miller’s epic biography of L. Ron Hubbard (1987) to the Los Angeles Times series by Joel Sappell and Robert Welkos (1990) to Jon Atack’s illuminating history of the church (1990) to the TIME magazine cover story by Richard Behar (1991) to the devastating release of Scientology’s own materials on the Internet in the mid-1990s, the church’s inner secrets have been spilled again and again and again.
What we’ve learned after all of that investigating and disclosure is that some people will spend between half a million and two million dollars to reach the top of Scientology’s “Bridge to Total Freedom,” at which point they will be presented a certificate for achieving “OT 8.” At this point, they are supposed to have superhuman abilities that give them power over matter, space, and time.
Part of those huge costs are the donations that Scientologists are hounded for. And according to Scientology’s own Impact magazine, in 2007 Cartwright achieved Patron Laureate status, meaning that she had reached $10 million in cumulative donations to the International Association of Scientologists, the church’s legal war chest.
In more recent years, Nancy has showed up repeatedly in Scientology online publications pushing her fellow church members to donate millions of their own to a new building project in the San Fernando Valley, which never seems to have enough money. She’s also been used to raise money in Mexico for projects there. And yet, even as Scientologists are pushed hard for money for these new churches, all objective evidence suggests that Scientology is shrinking fast, and the new buildings are unneeded. But Nancy plugs away, willing to dress up in colorful costumes in order to convince her fellow Scientologists to give, give, give.
We’d love to know if the AP asked Nancy about any of this.
And what’s the point of it? What is Nancy ultimately trying to achieve?
That was answered brilliantly by Australian journalist Bryan Seymour several years ago, when he was given unprecedented access to Scientology’s celebrities.
In this excerpt from Bryan’s brilliant piece, starting at the 2:15 mark, Nancy explains how she understands the notion of “God”…
I believe that there is a power that I am striving for. I think the best way to describe that would be to name that “God,” you know. And ideally I would have to say that I am striving to be that God.
Here, as Nancy says, find out for yourself…
So you see, there’s actually a lot of interesting things to ask Nancy Cartwright about Scientology and her own history in it. It sure would be nice, the next time she’s on camera, that she gets asked about it.
Chris Shelton on Gordon Melton
Says Chris: “Here’s the next installment in my series on deconstructing the book Scientology. I think you’ll like this one, it’s all about J. Gordon Melton, who wrote the first chapter of this book.”
Bonus items from our tipsters
Hey, girl. I’m Clear, and I have the accessories to prove it.
Here’s an interesting mystery. The New York branch of the Scientology front Foundation for a Drug-Free World posted these photos and then yanked them down. In the first, everpresent Foundation gladhander and Queens dentist Bernard Fialkoff (in the kakhi pants) poses with NYPD officers as well as Venezuelan actress Ruddy Rodriguez (left) and Colombian actress Maria Iara, who were in town for the opening of the new Ideal Org in Harlem. In the second photo, Fialkoff imparts his wisdom to NYPD community relations officers. We’re sure curious why these photos were pulled.
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Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield