Alex Gibney’s Going Clear: Scientology And The Prison Of Belief aired on HBO a few weeks ago, and it appears it’s already been seen by just about everyone who’s anyone, not counting John Travolta and DJ Mom Jeans (Danny Masterson). How popular is it? According to the Associated Press, it’s on track to become HBO’s second-most-watched documentary in the past ten years. Poetic justice for David Miscavige, that damned Tom Cruise just can’t not be in a hit.
“Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” has been seen by more than 5.5 million people since its debut two weeks ago. It is likely to wind up being second only to a 2013 movie on Beyoncé as the premium cable network’s most-watched documentary of the past decade, HBO said Monday.
Beyoncé! Of course.
The Church of Scientology ran a full-page advertisement in The New York Times denouncing the film before it ran, questioning whether “Going Clear” would turn out to be like Rolling Stone magazine’s since-retracted story about an alleged sexual assault at the University of Virginia.
Haha, nah. It’s at least a little ironic that a group known for being notoriously effective and ruthless publicists thought the best strategy to keep people from seeing a documentary about them was “Ooh, I know, what about a full-page ad in the New York Times?” That’s like putting a giant shiny box on the side of the highway underneath a billboard that says “DON’T LOOK IN HERE.”
Of course, the real test for Going Clear isn’t how many people see it, but whether the IRS ends up reexamining the Church of Scientology’s tax-exempt status the way The Jinx got Robert Durst arrested. “HBO: It’s not just TV, it’s an extra governmental law-making apparatus.”