Ranking The Church Of Scientology’s ‘Going Clear’ Response Videos, By Watchability

Senior Editor
03.17.15 38 Comments
This guy's not crazy! Look how tan he is!

"Freedom Media & Ethics," via YouTube

This guy's not crazy! Look how tan he is!

Yesterday I told you about the Church of Scientology’s attempts to discredit anyone, especially former Scientologists, who appeared in Alex Gibney’s Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, in advance of its television premiere March 29th on HBO. The latest was an open letter to the Hollywood Reporter with a person-by-person takedown of every former Scientologist who appeared in the film or the Lawrence Wright book on which it was based. The letter included links to church-produced videos with awesome titles like “Mike Rinder: The Wife Beater,” “Marc Headley: The Soulless Sellout,” and “Sara Goldberg: The Home Wrecker.”

Stupidly, at the time, I hadn’t watched those videos. I since have, and I can report that they’re comedy gold. As BoingBoing described them, “Scientology Goes Full Tim & Eric.” Here, I rank them all, from least to most watchable.

7. Kathy Haggis Interview: Paul Haggis Lies

Charge Against The Church
Haggis is Going Clear‘s main source, who describes how he got involved, and how he thought it was insane when he finally found out what it was all about, with Xenu and thetans and the volcano and stuff. “(When he finally read Hubbard’s notes, Haggis says he thought, “Maybe it’s an insanity test? Maybe if you believe this, they kick you out?” No such luck.)”

Gist Of Church Response
Paul Haggis is a talentless con-artist who was only ever famous on the backs of other Scientologists.

Church Source
Paul Haggis’s sister, Kathy.

Sample Voiceover
“But Paul Haggis isn’t the king of the silver screen Alex Gibney would have you believe. Just ask his sister.”

Key Quote
“Paul had two movies back to back that did well, accidentally. Everything he did after that on his own has failed, and has continued to fail. Paul is a desperate man right now because his last film was declared by a UK paper as one of the worst films of the year.”

Video Review
This one gets docked major points for not even having a cool title. Should’ve gone with “Paul Haggis: Tinseltown Tool,” or “Paul Haggis: Seriously, Have You Even Seen Crash?” Still, you have to enjoy the professional-grade production of a movie where a woman reads her brother’s negative film reviews.

Surrealist Moment
The National Enquirer-style unflattering bikini picture in the opening news graphic.


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6. Marc Headley: The Soulless Sellout

Charge Against the Church
Wrote an entire book about it. He doesn’t even appear in Going Clear, but the church made a video about him, I guess because Going Clear the book references Headley’s lawsuit against the church.

Gist of Church Response
If they weren’t being held against their will like they say, why’d they look so happy in these photographs? Also: That he’s an “admitted tabloid source” and was “caught selling stolen Church video equipment on eBay.”

Sample Voiceover
“Broke, bitter, and out for revenge, Marc and Claire Headley devised a plan to hit the jackpot, bringing his-and-her lawsuits against the church.”

Video Review
Snoooooze. This one’s just a series of legal decisions and people saying “well they sure looked like they were having fun!” Still, worth it for the “big reveal” (6:40) that Headley left the church because of illicit eBay activity. “He spites God to pad his PayPal account!”

Surrealist Moment
This action shot of Headley playing ping pong.


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5. “Spanky” Taylor: The Drama Queen

Church made her work for 30 hours straight on little sleep, separated from her infant child, until she had to “rescue her neglected daughter from a urine-soaked crib.”

Gist Of Response
That was a long time ago, Spanky Taylor is just being dramatic.

Sample Voiceover
“At this point, she began a secret affair with one of her business clients, destroyed her marriage, and turned her two children against her husband.”

Key Quote
“Spanky Taylor is a Drama Queen, and where there isn’t Drama, she’ll create it.”

Spanky’s ex-husband.

Video Review
Big points for casual dismissiveness in this video, but it’s not as petty as some of the others, and could use more shadowy stock B-roll.

Surrealist Moment
The random Guy Fawkes mask in the “who are these witnesses?” graphic.


"Freedom Media & Ethics" via YouTube

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