By Sawyer Pollitt, Staff Writer
There’s an interesting idea floating around on the internet that our reality diverged from the normal timeline a few years ago and took a turn for the crazy. People who support this idea give examples like the current state of American politics and Elon Musk selling flame throwers and sending a car into space. This idea is, of course, ridiculous. However, to present another piece of evidence, as of 8:00 p.m. on Monday, March 13, The Church of Scientology now has a TV network. I sat down with an open mind and this is what I encountered.
When I tuned in I was able to catch the beginning of the TV show L. Ron Hubbard: In his own voice. This show was reminiscent of a History channel biography, with the audio of recorded lectures given by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, being played over a back track that was eerily similar to the character creation music in The Sims. I love The Sims; my interest was piqued. The documentary started innocently enough. Hubbard was explaining his life as a child, the experiences he had in the Far East as well as his exposure to Zen Buddhist philosophy and how all of this impacted his life.
Soon things began to take a turn. The content of the show went from an interesting foray into the admittedly remarkable life of a man into condemnations of psychology as a pseudoscience. Seeing as the denunciation of psychology is one of the core beliefs of Scientology, this was par for the course. It seemed as though this program was meant for someone already familiar with the religion.
For someone like myself and the public at large, whose only knowledge of Scientology comes from South Park and brief Wikipedia searches, this documentary left the viewer with more questions than answers, but maybe that’s what Scientology TV wants? I would recommend reading up on your Xenu and Thetan lore before binge watching this particular mini-series. However, now that the show was over, the most interesting part of the broadcast began. The commercials.
They began with a sweeping panoramic view of the Scientology headquarters in Los Angeles which was paired with the most hipster-indie-carefree tune imaginable. This stark contrast between how the church is representing itself and what the church actually is really reminds the viewer that they are in fact consuming propaganda.
The Church of Scientology isn’t a lighthearted Kickstarter project, but a powerful worldwide religion that even possesses its own navy that some describe as a paramilitary force. This entire network seems like a method to rebrand the church for a modern audience who has only heard bad things.
I was then greeted by a man who resembled a middle-aged Ken doll who walked out of nowhere like Rod Sterling in an episode of the Twilight Zone and told me that Scientology isn’t what I’m expecting. He went on to say that he’s not here to convert anyone, he’s here to answer questions and show the world what Scientology really is. One strange thing that this spokesman kept doing was referring to Scientology as a religion. The church is obviously a religion with many faithful members, but it’s easy to forget that and just plaster Scientology with derogatory labels like tax exemption scheme or insane cult.
As I continued to watch the commercials, a show was advertised called Meet a Scientologist. They made sure to mention the frankly unsettling fact that anyone from a plumber, a fireman, a CEO or even a famous celebrity could be a Scientologist.
This reminded me that no matter how negatively some people paint Scientology to be, with their multiple allegations of harassment and other crimes, there is still a human element present in the church and you can’t blame all of the members of the group for the actions of a few.
Overall, if you’re bored on a Friday night and feel like dipping your toes into a world that’s not only different from your own, but also a little detached from reality I would recommend Scientology TV. Who knows, maybe this is the religion you’ve been waiting for, or maybe you just need a good laugh at the expense of an entire church. Either way, its worth a look.