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We’re going to start off our end-of-year celebrations this week by revealing which video you selected as the best of 2011.
My thanks to our readers who participated in the poll. We had many interesting videos to choose from this year; some were new, others were rediscovered, and every one made an impact.
As for the winner? Well, I had a feeling this one would come out on top. But first, let’s once more look over the also-rans.
Fifth Place: Birmingham in the House!
In September, a sharp-eyed researcher noticed that the Scientology org in Birmingham, England had left its server open to the public. Within days, a huge amount of information from the org had been posted on the Internet. Part of that leak included photos and a song from a tropical-themed fundraising event to raise money for an “Ideal Org” — a new building, the kind of thing Scientologists are constantly being hit up for. These images (and especially the song) painted a much less glamorous picture than the celebrity-tinged church we normally get to see. The photos really came to life when someone put them together with the tune for what you see here. Note at the end the modest amounts church members were willing to pledge even after all that island fever.
Fourth Place: The Angels of the Melrose Mission
Scientology’s boutique Melrose Bouleverd org apparently didn’t last long, but it left behind this promotional video, which was sent to us by Angry Gay Pope. Readers have pointed out that there are some very odd moments in this homage to Charlie’s Angels.
Third Place: “Dauntless, Defiant, Resolute (We are the IAS)”
We’ve been learning more and more about Chill EB, the Bay Area rapper whose career was revived in 2005 when he became Scientology’s in-house hip hop artist. For the International Association of Scientologists — the IAS — Chill performed an inspirational track using the association’s motto — “Dauntless, Defiant, Resolute.” He also created a video for it that we still haven’t seen. But last month, we learned that Chill’s song had been used for a separate video put together by IAS members in Copenhagen. Something about Danish breakdancers, Scientologists handing out certificates, and these earnest IAS members chiming in with the lip-syncing made this piece an instant hit.
Second Place: “Dede from the Phoenix Org”
Like the Birmingham leak, this was another glimpse into how much church members are pressured to raise funds for new buildings, called “Ideal Orgs.” In this case, a woman named Dede and other members of the org in Phoenix, Arizona put on quite a show of enthusiasm as they promised a cheer for every donation. Since this video surfaced in July, some of us have become attached to the woman who stars in this show. She inspired one reader, after voting in this contest had started, to write, “Go, Dede. Every time you get a vote, we’ll go crazy for you.”
But Dede, and the other contestants, were simply outmatched in this contest. Winning by a large margin was…
Scientology Video of the Year: “We Stand Tall”
In June, I got a tip that this video had surfaced, and that it had originally been made in 1990. I posted it on a Monday morning, but soon it was popping up at other news sites — it was just too good to ignore.
Its cheese factor is high enough, but what really set it apart was the appearance of church leader David Miscavige, surrounded by other high-level executives, in a sort of “We Are the World” chorus. Some of those executives, like Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder, are long gone from the organization and now criticize it. But even stranger, what the heck is DM wearing? The sleuths over at WhyWeProtest.net managed to trace the shirt’s pattern to a cowboy-themed Hermes scarf by designer Jean de Fougerolle. We’re not sure why that’s important, but it’s a fun detail nonetheless.
You voted for “We Stand Tall” in overwhelming numbers. We can certainly understand why.
Tomorrow morning we’ll reveal the best shoop (Photoshopped image) of the year, and on Wednesday it’s Scientology Story of the Year. I can hardly wait.
Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he’s been writing about Scientology at several publications.
SCIENTOLOGY IN THE VILLAGE VOICE
[Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis secretly recorded discussing “disconnection”]
[Benjamin Ring, LA deputy sheriff, wants you to spend your 401K on Scientology]
[Scientologists: How many of them are there, anyway?]
[Scientology hates clean ice: The “Fair Game” operation that should turn your stomach]
[Scientology hates clean ice, part 2: Another target, and the web as weapon]
[Paulette Cooper, Scientology’s original and worst nightmare: a Thanksgiving tribute]
THE TOP 25 PEOPLE CRIPPLING SCIENTOLOGY
1. L. Ron Hubbard | 2. David Miscavige | 3. Marty Rathbun | 4. Tom Cruise | 5. Joe Childs and Tom Tobin | 6. Anonymous | 7. Mark Bunker | 8. Mike Rinder | 9. Jason Beghe | 10. Lisa McPherson | 11. Nick Xenophon | 12. Tommy Davis | 13. Janet Reitman | 14. Tory Christman | 15. Andreas Heldal-Lund | 16. Marc and Claire Headley | 17. Jefferson Hawkins | 18. Amy Scobee | 19. The Squirrel Busters | 20. Trey Parker and Matt Stone | 21. Kendrick Moxon | 22. Jamie DeWolf | 23. Ken Dandar | 24. Dave Touretzky | 25. Xenu
HELD ABOARD THE FREEWINDS: TALES OF THE SEA ORG
[Valeska Paris, held against her will from 1996 to 2007 on Scientology’s cruise ship]
[Ramana Dienes-Browning, marriage at 16, sexual interrogation, life in the engine room]
[Melissa Paris, Valeska’s sister: forced to marry at 16]
SCIENTOLOGY VS. SOUTH PARK: INVESTIGATION AS RETALIATION
[Scientology targeted South Park‘s Parker and Stone in an investigation]
[More documents in the South Park probe: instructions to send in a young mole]
[Scientology responds in typical fashion] | [Lloyd Kaufman confirms the probe]
[Mark Ebner also investigated after South Park involvement]
[Mark Chauppetta, private eye, explains what Scientology operatives look for]
MARTY RATHBUN AND THE SIEGE OF SOUTH TEXAS
[Scientology has Rathbun arrested] | [Rathbun and Mark Bunker reveal surprising ties]
In Germany with Ursula Caberta: [Announcing plans] | [Press conference] | [Making news about Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair] | [Post-trip interview]
The Squirrel Busters: [Goons with cameras on their heads] | [Rathbun’s open letter to neighbors] | [Ingleside on the Bay, Texas rallies to Rathbun’s cause] | [Squirrel Buster’s claim to be making a “documentary”] | [VIDEO: “On a Boat”] | [“Anna” sent to creep out Monique Rathbun] | [Squirrel Busters go hillbilly] | [A videographer blows the whistle on the goon squad] | [Ed Bryan, OT VIII, shows the power of Scientology’s highest levels]
SCIENTOLOGY SPYING AND “FAIR GAME”
[Secret Scientology documents spell out spying operation against Marc Headley]
[Scientology’s West U.S. spies list revealed] | [Scientology’s enemies list: Are you on it?]
Spy operation against Washington Post writer Richard Leiby: [Part 1] | [Part 2]
[A Scientology spy comes clean: Paulien Lombard’s remarkable public confession]
[Scientology advertises for writers in Freedom magazine]
[Accidental leak shows Scientology spy wing plans to “handle” the Voice]
[Lori Hodgson and Disconnection: “No one’s going to take my eternity away”]
SCIENTOLOGY AND CELEBRITIES
[Hey, Scientology Celebrity, Here’s Your Media Training Checksheet!]
[Tom Cruise and X Factor‘s Stacy Francis singing together on the Freewinds]
[X Factor’s Stacy Francis: Her first husband, Michael Sandlofer, answers abuse claims]
[Tom Cruise and Baby Suri embarrassed by news item, so someone must pay]
[“Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle”] | [Tom Cruise likes coconut cake] | [Tom Cruise has a sense of humor] | [“Tom Cruise not a kook!”] | [Paulette Cooper on Tom Cruise]
[Paul Haggis, director of Crash, issues an ultimatum, leaves the church]
[Character actor Jason Beghe defects noisily] | [Actor Michael Fairman reveals his “suppressive person” declaration] | [Michael Fairman talks to the Voice]
[Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh: Scientology-Branch Davidian link makes sense]
[Russell Brand weds ex-Scientologists in wild ceremony] | [Skip Press on Haggis]
[Placido Domingo Jr.: Scientology’s retaliation is “scary and pathetic”]
Grant Cardone, NatGeo’s “Turnaround King”: [Doing Scientology’s dirty work?] | [Milton Katselas complained about Cardone’s smear job] | [Cardone runs to Huffpo]
[Philip Boyd, Saving Grace actor, rips “the business that is Scientology”]
JANET REITMAN’S INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY
[Our review of Inside Scientology] | [An interview with Janet Reitman] | [A report from Reitman’s first book tour appearance] | [At the Half-King: Reitman not afraid]
[Scientology doesn’t like Inside Scientology] | [Q&A at Washington Post]
[A roundup of Reitman’s print reviews, and why isn’t she on television more?]
HUGH URBAN’S THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY
EX-SCIENTOLOGISTS SPEAK OUT
[“The Money Machine”: another blockbuster St. Pete Times investigation]
[Marc Headley: “Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle”] | [The Nancy Many interview]
[Sympathy for the Devil: Tory Christman’s Story] | [Jeff Hawkins’ Counterfeit Dreams]
[86 Million Thin Dimes: The Lawrence Wollersheim Saga] | [Mike Rinder on spying]
[Scientology in Israel: Arson, attempted murder, paranoia — and a visit by the Voice!]
[Scientology dodges a bullet in Australia] | [Scientology exec Jan Eastgate arrested]
[All hell breaks loose in Israel] | [Scientology sees fundraising gold in the UK riots]
[Aussie former rugby pro Chris Guider calls David Miscavige “toxic” and “violent”]
[Stephen Cox, UK church newbie, pledges 20K pounds] | [Biggi Reichert: A German Lisa McPherson?] | [The Birmingham trove: 7,000 internal e-mails]
[Australian farmer blamed for giving Tom Cruise a bad shrimp, loses her friends, family]
ODD VIDEOS AND ODDER NEWS
[Scientology chillin’ with hip hop!] | [The curious career of Scientology rapper Chill EB]
[Chill EB and me: the Voice interviews Scientology’s in-house rapper]
[Scientology singalong, “We Stand Tall”] | [Captain Bill Robertson and “Galactic Patrol”]
[Scientology wins a major award!] | [Scientology wants your money: Meet Dede!]
[Birmingham in the House! The “Ideal” dance mix] | [Scientology and the Nation of Islam]
[When Scientology was hip] | [Sad: David Miscavige makes fun of his own fundraisers]
[Freedom magazine parodies The New Yorker. Hilarity ensues.]
[Scientology surf report: Anonymous parties outside the New York “org”]
THE VIEW INSIDE THE BUBBLE
[A scientologist’s letter to the Voice and its readers] | [Scientology silent birth]
[Tad Reeves: Scientology might listen to this guy] | [More Tad Reeves and family]
[Scientology never forgets: A heartwarming telemarketing holiday miracle]
[Desperate Scientology fundraising caught on video]