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Video games comment while movies and TV don't

LA Noire Harlan Fontain lecture
religious technology center
American media are often afraid to criticize, or even talk about, Scientology because of litigation fears.  Video game makers don't seem to have that problem.  They pride themselves on being edgy, outrageous, hip and satirical.  They push the envelope more often and so perhaps are more willing to take a risk mocking the cult.  Also, they are taken less seriously by society so they can do things under the radar which an attention getting feature film could not.  Plus, with the cult so weak there has never been a better time to mock it safely than now.

That's why it didn't really surprise me when two different big budget video games riffed on Scientology in 2011 alone.  In both games the cult is the villain of course!  "Dead Space 2" is a sequel to an ultraviolent third person shooter.  That means the camera floats and follows the player from behind while they blow things up.  "LA Noire" is a period detective mystery set in Los Angeles in 1947, just a few years before Dianetics was published by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.  It's also a third person shooter.Don't believe the cult inspired these games?  Compare the pyramid drawing above and the logo of Scientology's Religious Technology Center at right. Hmmm.... read on!

dead space 2 logo
Dead Space 2 - Unification Congress
Dead Space 2 is not an emotionally sophisticated game and is more conventional than LA Noire. It has little on it's mind other than letting players attack space aliens with chainsaws and watch their internal organs float around in zero gravity.  The smirking at Scientology is just an added bonus but one that is critical to the plot. Without warning, in the distant future, a planet in our solar system is overrun with "Necromorphs," a cross between zombies and aliens.  Somehow the "Church of Unitology" is involved in the outbreak. 

Throughout the game the player explores a city on Titan, Saturn's largest moon, and is exposed to Scientology imitating ads for Unitology, complete with golden fonts and self-help book collections.  Just compare the Scientology Unification Congress media collection with the books sold by Unitology in the picture at right.  I almost can't tell the difference.  The graphics for the real cult ads are a bit better.  It's easier to make a book cover than a video game. Dead Space 2 postulates a future where Scientology has finally achieved it's goals of launching into space and attempting to spread itself to other worlds.  This has always been Scientology's sci-fi dream. The world is not enough!  They even gouged UFO landing pad symbols of their logos into the ground in several secret bunker locations. 

Why?   Because these cultists believe in reincarnation.  But what if everyone on earth were killed in World War III?  There would be no one alive for their Thetans (souls) to reincarnate into.  All formerly human Thetans would have to reincarnate into a newborn baby space alien on another planet, grow up, feel the urge to join Scientology, board a spacecraft (possibly of their own invention), fly to earth, see the UFO landing pad symbols, investigate, discover the nearby vault that holds LRH's words stored on metal plates to survive World War III, penetrate the nuclear blast-proof doors, decipher the founder's words stored in inert gas and printed on Titanium and then continue Scientology. I'm sure science fiction writer and Sci founder L. Ron Hubbard would appreciate Scientology spreading to other worlds like Unitology does in Dead Space 2.  What he would not like is that Unitology has also been messing around with these Necromorphs behind the scenes and is up to no good. 

I've played the demo for both games 1 and 2. What I remember is being attacked by a giant zombie fat guy. Smart players shoot the yellowish, bloated undead horror in the head and it falls down dead. Totally dead. Even for a zombie. But new players always shoot the monster in it's zombie fat guy stomach. This causes it to die by bursting open and a hundred yellow giant spiderlings explode out, crawl up your legs and eat you.  That's the Dead Space experience.  And I don't even want to talk about the fanged fetuses which appear in the video below.

The L. Ron Hubbard of Unitology is named Michael Altman.  He's the one source of true wisdom.  But, just like Scientology, appearances are deceiving.  What seems like a feel good humanitarian group is also responsible for secret evil:  alien zombies on Titan that shoot puke at you!LINK: - Why Dead Space 2 is a direct attack on Scientology
Dead Space 2 Video

Learn all about "Unitology" the Scientology parody in the video game Dead Space 2.

LA Noire title screen
hollywood guarantee building HGB Building - LA Noire
LA Noire is an ambitious game that recreates large areas of 1947 Los Angeles and features groundbreaking facial animations.  Compare the real cult owned building at left with their video game version. The city is this detailed everywhere you go.  The player can explore LA but must also solve crimes, including murders. Over time some of the crimes start connecting and the player realizes that powerful people are behind the evil.  The most villainous of these is an L. Ron Hubbard "type" named Dr. Harlan Fontaine.  He's seen giving a lecture on the mind that looks like warmed over Freudianism.  On the blackboard are the words "The Complex," which also happens to be the name of a famous book about Scientology. There's also a chalk drawing which looks suspiciously like Scientology's logo for the Religious Technology Center.  LA Noire starts with a disclaimer that this game is not about any one real person.  There is a Howard Hughes "type," and L. Ron Hubbard "type." etc. Like LRH, Dr. Harlan Fontaine gives lectures on the mind, is a celebrity quack doctor, and runs a drug treatment/mental health clinic.  Too bad he seems more interested in keeping his patients addicted rather than curing them.  Seems World War II had created a huge surplus of shell shocked vets and unused morphine.  Why not bring them together even if it's illegal?  "What may on the surface appear to be illegal is actually of benefit to society at large" Fontaine asserts.  Throughout the stolen morphine investigation he behaves as a sociopathic manipulator obsessed with power and is the games principle antagonist.hubbard dianetics seminarAt the time ex-navy man Hubbard himself was attempting to scam other vets with his quackery as well as get money from the government for his ulcer, which he claimed was caused by war stress.  His alleged successes with treating veterans, especially himself, was what lead to the publication in 1950 of Dianetics, the Scientology bible. In the photo at right Hubbard can be seen giving one of his Dianetics lectures similar to what Harlan Fontaine is seen doing.  Fontaine may also be loosely based on Dr. John Havilland's character, appearing in James Ellroy's novel Because The Night, his last name being a reference to sister actresses Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland.  There may have been many such charlatans in Los Angeles at that time but only Hubbard's Scientology have survived to this day.Los Angeles protesters are in for another treat in LA Noire thanks to it's faithful recreation of Hollywood Boulevard postwar.   It's an eerie experience for those familiar with the boulevard to be driving down its 1947 video game version.  At that time it was more like a small town main street with none of the tattoo parlors, hookers and space alien cults which moved in later.  In particular, the Christie Hotel, Regal Shoes Building and Hollywood Guarantee Building are all faithfully recreated.  When Hollywood fell into neglect the cult was able to buy these buildings on the cheap and fix them up.


In the game LA Noire newspapers are scattered around during some cases.  If you find a paper you are rewarded with a dramatic "cut scene" which fills the player in on the back story and big story going on.  In this sequence, "Shrink to the Stars Promises Mental Breakthrough," Dr. Harlan Fontaine confronts a patient who is having doubts about the good doctor's Narconon-esque drug treatment program. Unlike Harlan, LRH was not a doctor, but both of them loved to chain smoke.  Note the realistic faces on the virtual "actors" in the scene. LA Noire broke new ground in performance capture and integrated it seamlessly into the game, which is often about gauging facial reactions to see who is lying.

regal shoes building
Regal Shoes Building
HGB Building 1923 & 2006
Hollywood Guarantee Building
1923 and 2006