Was Tom Cruise’s rant in the name of leadership or just a publicity stunt?

Last week, Tom Cruise launched a diatribe against crew members for breaching COVID-19 protocols on the set of the upcoming Mission Impossible 7.

The reaction among the public and celebrities is basically halvedwith some praising Cruise for his passionate defense of public health measures and others questioning the star’s motives.

“I get it,” Whoopi Goldberg said on an episode of”The View” that aired the morning after the audio was leaked. “Some people don’t understand why he would get so angry. That’s his movie. If he goes down with COVID, the movie’s done.”

“Tom does not care about the families of his crew; this is all for publicity,” fellow actor Leah Remini wrote in her blog last Wednesday. “Tom does not believe in family values. I mean, how anyone is falling for this is just mind-blowing. I would bet that Tom had this rant written for him and had his Scientology assistant record and release it. Hearing a rich actor with enormous power address his crew in this way is a sign of weakness and a deeply troubled person.”

It’s hard to know Cruise’s mind in this because the recording begins in the middle of his rant.

One can imagine that the expletive fueled speech heard in the leaked audio might be a reflection of continued and disregarded efforts to convince crew members to take coronavirus countermeasures seriously.

One could also imagine that the very same speech was a product of an ego-maniac more worried about delaying his king-making vehicle than the lives of his co-workers. However, I’m not sure that the motive much matters. The mechanisms behind his rage more likely impacted its intensity, not its message.

The fact of the matter is, there are currently 17.9 million positive coronavirus cases in the US, and the death toll has surpassed 300,000. In COVID-19’s wake remains mass job loss and mental deterioration.

Most would argue that Cruise should have been more careful about his language, just as a comparable majority can identify with the frustration of witnessing negligence in an era defined by loss.

The best way to put this into perspective is by removing Cruise from the equation and replacing him with a CEO at a company not associated with glamour and nepotism. After all, beneath the censure, defenders of Cruise maintain that he was fighting on behalf of the working class.

Nationwide, employment in outpatient care fell by roughly 1.3 million jobs, between February and April, and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research reports that 10 million Americans will need to find a new line of work before the pandemic is neutralized.

How much would you disparage your leadership for intensely reprimanding (or even angrily) a colleague for putting the lives and economic security of you and your team at risk? Conversely, how much would you question that leadership if they failed to do so?

With economic emergencies abound and congressional negotiations at another crawl, those occupying the bottom 50% of income distribution face the toughest road ahead.

Many experts contend that the national response was simply too slow to enact meaningful reductions to case numbers before the development of a vaccine. As it stands, most states (and many countries for that matter) were unable to keep SARS-CoV-2’s basic reproduction rate below 1.1 long enough for countermeasures to be effective.

Because of this, medical professionals are anticipating the worst of the pandemic spread across the next four or five months.

“These numbers confirm that we only had a small window of time to act, and unfortunately that’s not what happened in most countries,” write the authors of a recent Duke University study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE. “Being able to estimate transmission rates at different phases of a disease’s spread and under different conditions helps identify the timing and type of interventions that may work best, the hospital capacity we’ll need, and other critical considerations.”

Having said that, Remini makes an excellent point with respect to Cruise’s tone.

Americans all across the country are in a state of panic about their career prospects, their children’s future, and their physical and emotional wellbeing. And the vast majority of these don’t have adoring fans and obscene wealth to keep reality at the door.

“Forecasts show over 200,00 additional deaths. If we would follow the rules in terms of wearing masks and not mixing we could avoid a large percentage of those deaths,” Gates told CNN last Tuesday. “In the near term, it’s bad news. But the next four to six months really call on us to do our best because we can see that this will end, and you don’t want someone you love to be the last person to die of coronavirus.”