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Anonymous vs. Scientology

Videos War


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Index
Overview
Masked Protests
Videos War
The Fundaments of Anonymous
Anonymous Glossary


Videos War

The Anonymous vs. Scientology war certainly marks a new trend in the old Scientology vs. critics conflict that already lasted for several decades - the advent of videos. In recent months, Youtube had been growing almost overnight to become one of the most in-thing on the Internet and currently is second in traffic rank just after Yahoo that has been around 10 years more. A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. Now what about a thousand pictures, that make up a video? A video can't lie, they say...

So it was really just a matter of time before that new media frenzy got into traditional controversial fields, and Scientology has been one of these heated controversy almost since the Internet inception back in the early 1990's, when the CoS sued critics who were posting its copyrighted materials. Currently, as search of "Scientology" already brings up 18,200 videos (probably more by the time you hit this link). That should be more than enough to fill up your long winter evenings (are there any such anymore?).

When the same copyright issue came up to the level of videos, the Internet was a bit more ready. No more questions whether posting copyrighted material was a matter of free speech or not. The court had already overwhelmingly decided it wasn't. On the other hand, ready-made critical web sites where up and running to welcome the thousands of new people who now got involved in that issue and who easily bought into the antis propaganda.

One of these critical web sites, Xenu TV, was in advance on its time, having already webbed dozens of Scientology-related videos. I have known the author of this web site, Mark Bunker, through his ARS posting and through IRC (back when I was not banned), and he always stroke me as a very nice and humorous guy, even though I probably disagreed with 70% of his views on Scientology. As a testimony to the power of video, this coolness comes through in an amazing way in the video he posted on Youtube to convince (quite successfully) Anonymous to shift from hacking to street protests. So much so that he has been nick-named "Wise Beard Man" by anonymouses. In my humble opinion, that video is historical in the anon-vs-scilon epic, even though Mark's use of the Keith Henson myth in it was very silly. Anonymous obviously picked many of his subsequent ideas and actions from that video.

Anonymous' own declaration of war had the impact we know today, with its wave of hacking towards Scientology sites, and subsequently its masked street protests.

Now, a couple of days after Scientology posted its own premier video to counter that of Anonymous war declaration, it has brought its website to the cutting edge of the Internet by turning its whole site into a gigantic video library with 82 introductory videos. This really isn't a web page in the traditional sense anymore, as it is hard to get quick information and to reference where you got it. However, the CoS believes this is a winning approach and justifies it in its official announcement by using Internet metric leader Comscore's findings that 75% of Internet users watch video online. The old home page is still there though the address has changed and is harder to find. (Note: after you watch the CoS video answer to Anonymous, watch the Anon editing of it, it's quite hilarious and has the advantage to light things up on these sometimes too serious issues).

At the source of the conflict was yet another video, that of Tom Cruise admonishing Scientologists, which was leaked out of the CoS and posted on Youtube, then removed at the request of the CoS. The video which is still to this day on Gawker's website is what critics think are the worst excerpts. Gawker claims it shows Cruise as a "complete fanatic" then goes on to substantiate this claim by quoting a rather innocuous statement from Cruise to the effect that Scientologists should help in a car incident because they are the only ones who can really help. This hardly makes of him a fanatic, much less a "complete fanatic". It only makes of him someone who believes in the effectiveness of Scientology and feels the need to help others with it. (Youtube still has the uncut version online).

The video is clearly made for internal use, and so his statements are more emphatic than they would be if the video was aimed at a broader public. Posting that video out of context in the public arena and in another context, that of strong accusations towards Scientology, does give it another bend. However, even as such, Cruise is hardly doing more than urging Scientologists to get "on board" and be active spreading and defending their religions, as he did and does himself, at some cost for his career. It just does not read to me as dire as the bend critics put on it, and I personally find it even relatively mild compared to Anonymous' own "call to arms" when he urges his troops to "Fucking rise up, sons and daughters of the Internet. Rise the fuck up and stay up. Let 'em know we'll take the fight to them, and that we'll help every single person that wants to leave the cult."

Check out the Tom Cruise Interview Parody - this is a very good example on what critics see in Cruise video and is completely wrong. Of course the mannerisms are identical, but the content completely different. It actually makes the original video look good.

The video can't lie. That's sometimes true, and if you watch the Cruise video for yourself, you may come, as I did, to a diverging opinion than that of many of critics. But it does show that while the video can't lie, it certainly can be interpreted in different ways, in different contexts, and it can be used as a propaganda tool to influence mass opinion towards certain ideas. In other words, the context in which the video is being shown is as important as the video itself. It can be particularly destructive in a other-is-the-devil context. Watch this 1940 propaganda clip full of "facts" about the Jews and you may come to re-consider the notion that "videos can't lie"

For that matter, anti-Scientologists and anonymous have loads of videos hailing their movement as a courageous stand against oppression, like the one where they compare the German White Rose movement who stood up to Nazi Germany in 1942. In my opinion this is completely idiotic. There is a HUGE difference between the two. The White Rose movement was that of minority who put their life on the line against an oppressive majority. In the case of Anonymouses, we deal with a case of the majority stalking a minority. Anonymous party line is in fact better likened to German video about Jews featured above.


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Disclaimer :

This web site is NOT created by a Scientologist. It is created by a Scientology EX-MEMBER who is critical of Scientology. However, this ex-member is ALSO critical of the anti-Scientology movement. This does not make him a Scientologist, nor a defender of Scientology.

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