A South Park-Scientology Anniversary

The episode "Trapped in the Closet" debuted ten years ago today.

Today, with an HBO documentary over here and a Leah Remini tell-all over there, it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t so long ago that exposĂ©s aimed at the Church of Scientology were few and far between.

One such trailblazing bit of work was the South Park episode “Trapped in the Closet,” which premiered ten years ago on this date. Front and center in the episode was the Church’s (still) most famous celebrity adherent, Tom Cruise. In teeing up this 10th anniversary date, Tony Ortega properly notes just how ridiculous Hollywood rumors about Cruise and other A-listers can be:

Anyone who really seriously covers Cruise and has good sources knows that the gay rumors are bullshit. As we explained in our story about Mimi Rogers, his first wife, she introduced him to Scientology specifically because she hoped it would “handle” his incorrigible skirt-chasing. After they were married, they didn’t conceive, and that’s when the gay rumors started up. Mimi fueled those rumors when she joked to Playboy that Cruise was “celibate,” an in-joke among those who knew Cruise, but a quote the press has repeated seriously ever since.

Oh well. The idea of Tom stuck in a closet is still as funny as ever and the cartoon take on Xenu was one of the most significant cultural humiliations that Scientology has ever endured.

In The Underground Bunker item, Ortega got journalist and author Mark Ebner to recall some crucial advisory contributions to the episode. Ebner also imagines a funny discussion with Comedy Central’s Standards and Practices division.

[Screen grab via: hulu.com]

@hollywoodspin rhorgan@gmail.com Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.