The babies are here! Boy (Gwyneth’s Moses), Girl (Brooke’s Grier), Girl (Angelina’s Shiloh), Boy (Gwen’s Kingston). But where is Suri Cruise?
For me the story starts in March 2005. I was walking up Third Avenue in the early evening and passed by Katie Holmes. She stood in front of Pop Bar and wore a white trench coat and passed a cigarette in and out of her lipsticked mouth and said loudly to her male companion, “I think it’ll be really good for my career.” She then blew a puff of smoke out the side of her lips toward a floodlight and glanced at the passersby, shifting her weight from right stiletto to left. I didn’t think much of this. The last news item I could remember about the WB-star was a terrible picture of her feet in a celebrity rag captioned “Katie has hammer toes.” But by the end of April, Katie was everywhere, lurching along next to Tom Cruise at this premiere and on that talk show, eyes glistening and mouth either grinning or kissing. She didn’t say much. In June she was engaged and planning to convert to Scientology, and in October her pregnancy was announced. Things moved fast.
That speed was the hallmark of the story, even more so than the sheer strangeness of the coupling. Tom and Katie were in front of the camera so often, vehemently declaring their love so constantly, that in order to maintain the attention the romance had to progress. Perhaps it was coincidence that the lovers each had a film to promote during their courtship – perhaps they just happened to be in the public eye during those momentous few months. I’ve wanted to shout some private things to the entire world on several occasions, and perhaps Tom and Katie just had the chance. But when the two ran out of vague news (love, religion, marriage, baby) to announce, well, the story slowed, and only the hovering cameras remembered the initial pace. TomKat won’t announce a wedding date, won’t state whether Katie has converted, won’t show their daughter, Suri, to the world, and won’t answer why to any of it. That story is stalled, pregnant and overdue, stuck in a long engagement, and the new story is no story at all.
Katie’s well documented pregnancy and undocumented parenting are a remarkable counterpoint to Britney Spears’ painfully public mothering. Where Katie has seen her celebrity swell along with her stomach, Britney’s post-pregnant physique and baby-related gaffes have invited ridicule and scorn. Katie exists in a fantasy land – marrying Tom Cruise, joining a top-secret religious organization, giving interviews she could never book before, having a mystery baby – and Britney’s just too awfully real with her wastrel husband and improperly installed car seat and surprise second pregnancy. Neither woman is working (no movies, no albums). The tabloids go back and forth between them, upstairs and downstairs, and leave American women on the ground floor wondering if a baby’s a good thing at all.
In fact, the celebrity baby sagas seem to me rather like horror stories. Owing to her utter absence from the photographic record, Suri Cruise is now akin to something like a unicorn, sea monster, or Rosemary’s Baby. She’s so mysterious that King of Queens star (and Scientologist) Leah Remini made the front page of CNN.com just by declaring that she’d held the little Cruise, and that Suri was a normal size. Is Suri older than she should be? Are there two babies? Does she exist at all? For those of you who haven’t been following the conspiracy theory, some suspicious evidence:
1. Katie’s belly: Pictures show it seemingly decrease in size a few weeks before Suri’s birth.
2. Katie’s walk: Video shows a heavily pregnant Katie walking like someone who isn’t heavily pregnant.
3. Suri’s birth certificate: It was filed late and is signed by a nurse who never saw the baby and an unidentified friend (on behalf of the parents).
4. Suri’s name: My sister and I find it strange that Suri is composed of letters found in Cruise.
I think the secrecy is probably the result of a health problem, or a Scientology custom, or just a desire to keep a newborn out of the spotlight. Or maybe Suri’s a little funny looking. Maybe it’s a PR ploy. Pictures of Shiloh Jolie-Pitt sold to People for a reported $4.1 million and Suri couldn’t command more at birth. Could be that TomKat is maintaining the attention by lying low, and is waiting to sell later. In any case, the whole business gives me a creepy feeling in my neck. I’ve never seen a celebrity trying so hard to be noticed as Katie Holmes was on Third Avenue last March (it sounds fantastic, but the story’s true), and now she can’t get to a Starbucks in Colorado without paparazzi on her tail. But what really gets me is this focus on a phantom baby in tandem with all the other baby frenzy. Now ambivalence about celebrity pregnancy has a name, and it’s Suri Cruise.