Paul Haggis: From Crash to Burn
It’s incredible the lengths some people (the minority, fortunately) will go to in order to further their ambitions, compulsions or desires. People like this have always existed, from ancient literature to modern cinema and, of course, in the flesh, in our day-to-day lives.
Sexual deviance and impropriety have also threaded their way through history, again, as documented in many an art form. But only recently has such behavior been pinpointed and put in a vise, hopefully to be squeezed out of the wormhole it’s been hiding in for all these centuries. One of the biggest and most publicized “worms” to be flushed out of its burrow is, of course, Harvey Weinstein, in the midst of the #MeToo movement. Several have followed suit and there are probably more to come.
My purpose here isn’t to examine and comment on #MeToo per se—social media and the press are doing a good job of that. My premise is to put one particular worm under the microscope—a “maggot named Haggis.” Not only has he been accused of multiple charges of rape and sexual misconduct (which would make him a serial sex predator, like Weinstein), he has abused his public platform in efforts to drag one of the most ethical and philanthropic organizations in the world today—the Church of Scientology—through the mud, all for the sake of deflecting attention from his own depraved conduct.
When Hollywood offers success, it comes on a sparkling gold platter. But when the flashing lights dim and the after-parties start to taste sour, the gild quickly fades, turning to nothing more than tinsel. Having savored the saccharine taste of success, some might be tempted to clutch at any straw, attempting an alchemistic approach at turning that tinsel back to gold. In the case of Haggis, “clutching” has led him even further into the pits of iniquity.
According to his sister and former writing partner, Kathy Slevin, Haggis was never actually a member of the Church of Scientology. She explains that he, like any self-respecting parasite, only used it to further his own ends, feeding off contacts he made in L.A. to land some lucrative gigs at the start of his career. He had no scruples when it came to “sucking the lifeblood” of others.
While not even an active member of the Church, he jumped on the Church’s Volunteer Ministers charter flight back to Los Angeles.
But probably his most abject “work” is his contribution to a lie-riddled “documentary” by Alex Gibney and Lawrence Wright, the sole purpose of which was to attempt to denigrate the fastest-growing religion and a movement with extensive volunteer programs in every area that ails society: drug abuse prevention and rehab, education, rehabilitation of criminals, disaster relief and reform of the mental health field, to name but a few.
These maggots-in-arms picked Haggis up after his critically panned “Third Person” was released into the tinseltown ether in 2013. Typical of its reception, Indiewire had this to say about it: “‘Third Person’ is such an inept and bungled disaster of a movie, it almost feels a bit too harsh to treat it as a punching bag. That said, it’s truly shocking just how far and wide Haggis misses the mark. ‘Third Person’ is an audacious failure, one that even its starry cast can’t save. With a trite script, and an even more glib thematic undercurrent, ‘Third Person’ is nothing short of an outright embarrassment.”
When Gibney and Wright came looking for an anti-Scientology source, Haggis found an opportunity to step into the spotlight from a new angle, again using Scientology as a springboard. He had purportedly left the Church in 2010 (given that he hadn’t been an active member for 30 years the term “leaving” is a curious statement), wanting the Church of Scientology to become publicly involved in the highly debated same-sex marriage controversy. Never mind that the Church of Scientology is apolitical and never involves itself in political issues, a fact Haggis knew only too well. Had he been a genuine Scientologist, he would also have read the Church’s Creed, which states:
“We of the Church believe that all men of whatever race, color or creed were created with equal rights.”
It will be interesting to see where the #MeToo train takes its sexual predator passengers. Some will be dropped off at the terminus, a slammer. Others may manage to jump off along the way. But whatever happens to Paul Haggis, no matter the verdict regarding his charges of sexual abuse, at least one thing is for sure: from here on out, he will have to carry another enormous crime on his conscience—that of smearing a truly honest and humanitarian group.
In the beautiful highlands of Scotland, haggis is a dish served minced. As Paul Haggis goes through the judicial grind, I will be standing by with chopped onions and spices, ready to relish the meal that’s been a long time cooking.