Vinay Menon: Leave Tom Cruise’s face alone — he’s getting the same catty treatment as female celebrities and it’s equally disgusting

Vinay Menon: Leave Tom Cruise’s face alone — he’s getting the same catty treatment as female celebrities and it’s equally disgusting
Granted, this is not an impossible mission. Tom Cruise’s face is like Liechtenstein: it’s never under attack. In 1990, after he was declared “The Sexiest Man Alive,” the People cover line noted: “With a killer grin and eyes to sigh for, he’s Hollywood’s sure thing, the star who can make a hit just by showing up.”

Fast-forward three decades and the sighing is a bit different.

This cutaway lasted a few seconds. That was enough for viewers to flock to social media with an urgent query: What happened to Tom Cruise’s face?

Catty tweets about a celebrity’s looks are catnip to media outlets, including the Daily Mail, which compiled the reaction. This included: “This looks like someone wearing Tom Cruise’s face,” “Tom Cruise looks like my aunt now” and “Tom Cruise didn’t age, he got some awful work done on his face that bloated him like a frog.”

It didn’t long for speculation about Tom Cruise’s face to become a global sport.

The New Zealand Herald tried to explain why “Tom Cruise’s Face Looks Different.” In Nigeria, questions were raised about Botox or fillers. Readers in South Africa were informed, “Tom Cruise’s Face at Baseball Outing Leaves Fans Puzzled,” as if Tom Cruise’s face was now a multiverse or dark matter.

I don’t know. Maybe I am being too sensitive today. Or maybe I’m defensive because my own face has had a rough go of it during this pandemic. But is the world so cruel that it now sees a famous actor at a baseball game with his son and instantly wonders if he is storing nuts for the winter or suffering from a botched facelift?

One of the words that popped up in headlines this week was “unrecognizable.” We need to retire that word from the celebrity coverage lexicon because it’s hardly ever true. Yes, Tom Cruise’s face now has slightly expanded territorial boundaries, but it is still obviously Tom Cruise’s face. If this MLB broadcast identified “Tom Cruise” as a spectator who looked suspiciously like Cardi B, fine, then go with “unrecognizable.”

Otherwise, knock it off. My bloated face is now screaming, “Enough!”

I mention Cardi B deliberately, only to draw attention to the fact Tom Cruise’s face is getting a taste of what female celebrities endure: a fixation on appearance. One of my bugaboos is stories about a female star sharing a swimwear selfie, but in which her age is always added to the headline, usually between commas.

Fox News has pretty much turned this into a master class with Elizabeth Hurley and Salma Hayek: “Elizabeth Hurley, 55, Impresses Her Fans with Stunning Bikini Snap.” “Salma Hayek, 53, Posts Steamy Bikini Pic While Enjoying Coffee.” “Elizabeth Hurly, 56, Unveils Curve-Hugging Swimsuit in Throwback Snap From Maldives.” “Salma Hayek, 54, Wows In Purple Bikini.”

The subtext: “Can you believe it? This old broad is still a smokeshow!”

Can you imagine the supernova implosion at Fox News if, in the distant future, Hurley and Hayek teamed up for a joint bikini shoot: “Elizabeth Hurley, 95, and Salma Hayek, 94, Gyrate in G-Strings At Their Retirement Home, Causing 52 Heart Attacks.”

I am defending Tom Cruise’s face today for the sake of all our faces. Enough. No, he did not have an allergic reaction to bad shellfish in the Bay area. No, he did not take a screeching line drive off the noggin that resulted in massive swelling. No, that was not an impostor. And, no, a ghoul did not slice off Tom Cruise’s face and stick it on his own.

I am as baffled as newspaper readers in India who awoke on Wednesday to learn Tom Cruise’s face is “now a balloon.” What is wrong with you maniacs? Do you recall when the Taiwan Stock Exchange opened? Or the year Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points? How about when Taco Bell was founded or when excavation started on Montreal’s subway or Rwanda gained its independence?
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