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Michael Colton’s article on the Scientology film Orientation (“Cult Film,” 1/29) is, of course, the usual hatchet job, but since it is loosely disguised as a film review, it can serve as an object lesson, a guide for all City Paper film reviews: To review a film à la Colton, first, with no knowledge of the film, decide that it is a turkey. Then go see the film. Then spend your viewing time looking for anything in the film that looks easy to remove from context and mock.

Can we hope, next, for a Colton drama review of a Catholic mass or a Protestant communion? I’m sure he’ll have some hysterical things to say about blood and wine, the Inquisition, and the melodrama of Calvary. Or perhaps a music review of a Jewish High Holiday service? (All that cantorial schmaltz! He can associate it with the “alleged” Holocaust—after all, some critics of Judaism say it never happened.)

Apart from gobs of snideness, Colton’s pan comes down to this: Some celebrities who are Scientologists (e.g., Travolta) appear in a film aimed at introducing Scientology to newcomers. The score is upbeat. The “guide” or narrator is clean-cut. The film praises Scientology, which contradicts what some unspecified “former members” say—and, of course, former members are certain to be more reliable than current members! And so forth—paragraph after paragraph of such shockers, represented as “creepy.” “The Heavy Hand of L. Ron” says a cartoon movie poster. Gosh, that’s witty! The Heavy Hand of Michael Colton is far more in evidence.

I’d like to be witty like Michael Colton, but it’s just not cool to say things like, “Actually, Scientology has helped me lead a happier life, made me more able” and other dull stuff that a few million (some “former members” say only a few hundred thousand) Scientologists like me allegedly allege.

Please, don’t let Mr. Colton slash up us poor corny cultists with his blunt-edged (or alleged) wit anymore. Promote him. Give him a target more worthy of his critical acumen. Let him do a regular column on religious art through the centuries in which he concentrates entirely on black-velvet portraits of Jesus in which the eyeballs seem to follow the viewer’s motions. He can regale us with sinister tales of how Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and journalists represent themselves as the good guys and their attackers as the bad guys. (“What a world!” exclaimed the wicked witch, melting.)

Reston, Va.

via the Internet