Although there are many things on my mind at the moment including cold houses (not mine fortunately), p- houses, underhand trade treaties, why a country like ours has children living in poverty, worries about friends in Greece, private vs public prisons, and the last series of Breaking Bad, what’s on top at the moment is the doco Going Clear which I saw last week at the New Zealand Film Fest and which Toby Manhire so eloquently reviews.
When I was growing up the Masons was a society which engendered suspicion. Funny handshakes and all. As a young adult in Auckland I encountered Moonies and Scientologists around Vulcan Lane. There were also Raj Neesh and various other groups that wanted new blood. Although friends joined some of the Indian related ones I did make it along to the Theosophical Society. In the 1970s and 80s there was much fuss about people escaping cults and needing to be reoriented to life. I managed to avoid the New Age movement having explored those things in my yoof and feeling anxious about appropriation of indigenous ideas and beliefs.
The film Going Clear stirred a lot of theses memories. It also made me appreciative of survivors of these cults – that they can rebuild their lives especially when there has been psychological abuse. There are more in-depth reviews such as this one by John Sweeney.
It’s a well put together doco in which various people who were ‘high up’ in the cult speak about their experiences. They all seem intelligent, well educated people. For me the first ‘moment’ was when a survivor (Paul Haggis?) says that when he became an Operating Thetan he became privy to the Hubbard philosophy which he describes as a ‘load of crap’. Others describe abuse (psychological and of power). Another ‘moment’ is the description of finding a girl for Tom Cruise.
It’s an illuminating doco about power and control – note the Nazi type architecture on the stage presentations. Having just seen Bertolucci’s The Conformist I was highly alert to this. But it’s pretty easy to spot. It’s worth watching for two reasons: we need to be alert and people do survive cults and become healthy.