Grrr! Defending Tom Cruise

Here is an example of one of several similar e-mails I received this week regarding my defense of Tom Cruise (search) in my last column:

Steve K. in Cyberspace: "Gee Mike, I used to think you were pretty cool. But if you think that Tom (mid-life crisis) Cruise is justified in getting so bent outta shape over being squirted in the face with a water pistol, you need to get perspective, just like the all-too-serious Tom. He should've just laughed the whole situation off and it would've made him look cool. Just like he used to. Ya know, like when he was say around Katie's age. Now, he just sucks! As do his movies. As to Scientology, it's simply a cult dreamed up by a science-fiction writer. What a load."

Steve, Cruise is in New York City this week for the premiere of "War of the Worlds," but his Paramount Pictures publicist told me she just couldn't fit me in on the red carpet line.

So, obviously, my column has zero influence with the publicity mavens in charge of Cruise — despite the charge that I am kissing his butt.

You see, Cruise is so over-exposed, he and the Steven Spielberg (search) flick apparently don't need any more national TV coverage on the No. 1-rated cable news channel.

We'll probably have to run five minutes of black or a test pattern on FOX Magazine this Sunday night where that piece would have aired. But I won't hold it against Cruise, or the publicist.

It's really no big deal. I don't have a movie to sell.

But I digress.

All of you who think that being squirted in the face with water from a fake microphone by a fake reporter is funny should put yourself in Cruise's platform shoes.

That liquid substance could just as easily have been acid or something worse. What, should movie premieres now be secured as tightly as, say, a political convention or the State of the Union speech?

Some of you who e-mailed me say that Cruise was deservedly humbled by this clown, because he's rich and famous and lately he's been acting a bit kooky. While I won't argue that he hasn't been kooky, there is a time and place for everything.

Let's say Cruise was walking the red carpet when he was approached by an elderly man who wanted an autograph, and Cruise snubbed him.

If the old man, who hypothetically fought in World War II or survived racial bias before the civil rights movement or whatever — threw a cup of water in Cruise's face because of the snub, I think I would have thought Cruise got what he deserved.

But that wasn't the case.

What happened to Cruise was extremely unprofessional, and by someone who works in the television business. Not surprisingly, the guy works for a reality-television program, where eating bugs or being rich is all that's required, so what can we expect?

But let's take the movie star out of Cruise for a minute.

Imagine if Cruise were a doctor at one of your local hospitals. I think it's safe to say that many doctors can be a bit arrogant — not unlike movie stars. Being a doctor carries a certain prestige, it pays well and the position has power.

Now let's say an arrogant doctor was rude to a patient, and the patient threw water in the doctor's face. There, he would have deserved it.

But let's say a pharmaceutical salesman was meeting with the doctor on a business lunch, and the salesman, in the middle of his sales pitch, decided to squirt the doctor with water all over his suit, because he thought it would be funny. Would you think the doctor "got what he deserved?"

It's a silly analogy, but it's not too far off base.

Look, like I said in the last column, what happened to Cruise is not the end of the world. But for crying out loud, it still doesn't make it right, or even funny.

As for me and my butt-kissing, go back and read the archives of my column, and you'll see that when it is appropriate, I hammer celebrities.

From Paris Hilton (search) to Martin Sheen to Ashton Kutcher to Michael Moore to Russell Crowe to Michael Jackson to Paula Abdul, Ryan Seacrest, Corey Clark, Kobe Bryant, Jason Giambi, John Kerry, President Bush, Donald Trump, Dan Rather, Mel Gibson and yes, even Cruise — when it is appropriate, I Grrr! them, and I don't sugarcoat it.

But on the flip side, when celebrities do something worthwhile, or when they are unfairly targeted, I non-Grrr! them. It's called being fair. You guys can't have your cake and eat it too.

Kissing a celebrity's behind is bad, yes.

But pandering to an audience, preaching to the choir or reinforcing what I know the audience already believes is not creative or fair or even challenging, frankly.

It's boring, it's cliché and it's selling out just as much as kissing butt.

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Mike Straka is the director of operations and special projects for, and covers entertainment and features on the Sunday program "FOX Magazine." He also writes the weekly Grrr! Column and hosts "The Real Deal" video segments on