“We Stand Tall” is a 1990 video that, until last night’s episode of Saturday Night Live, I wasn’t aware existed.
In the SNL Scientology spoof, the name of the religion is changed to “neurotology,” and it’s a very ’90s-looking affair from fashion to hair style to film stock. It’s also hilarious, at least until you see the real thing.
The “neurotology” video was updated with footnotes as to where each person in the video currently resides and what they’re up to.
Of course, in most every case, it’s an unflattering outcome. “Missing” is frequently used, in reference to Scientology followers like Shelly Miscavige, who have not been heard from in years. Some charge that the church has imprisoned her and others as some form of punishment.
The SNL Scientology spoof plays on that thoroughly, and also drops updates like “This man has beat up everyone in this video.”
There is also black-and-white footage of an L. Ron Hubbard-like figure.
It’s all very left-field, yet soundly funny, but when you hear that word “spoof,” you can’t help but wonder about the source material. That fascination led me to YouTube, where I came across the original “We Stand Tall,” and when you watch the video as it was originally intended, two things become apparent.
Firstly, the SNL video gets everything about the production and song type perfect. And secondly, it’s no longer as funny when you watch the five-minute original and realize there wasn’t any element of parody in the original.
Along with the Miscavige story that just won’t seem to go away for the church, it casts a darker pallor over what was supposed to be a funny skit.
Miscavige isn’t alone in the speculation, but since her husband David Miscavige has been a leader of the Church of Scientology, her absence from public appearances for the last eight years has served as an impetus for documentaries like HBO’s Going Clear, which paint the church in a severely negative — downright criminal — light.
That said, here’s a look at the original “We Stand Tall.”
It isn’t clear how the Church of Scientology, which counts John Travolta and Tom Cruise among its members will respond to the SNL spoof on “neurotology,” but the battle lines have certainly been drawn.
And with ex-members like Leah Remini heaping on the criticism, it doesn’t seem like the issue will be going away any time soon, regardless.
What were your impressions of the “We Stand Tall” video, and does it change how you see the SNL spoof? Sound off in the comments section.