I mention the survey now because of Tom Cruise and Adele. Here are two who’ve proved it to be complete bunk. They are outstanding examples of people who’ve not allowed shortness or largeness to hold them back.
But Adele has just lost a load of weight and, from some quarters, been criticised for it. I feel sorry for her. And Cruise has just announced he’s going into space for his next movie and I worry for him.
Let’s deal with Cruise first. “Excited to be working with him on a film aboard the International Space Station!” Nasa’s Jim Bridenstine tweeted the other day. I bet he is. In name at least, Cruise is as big as movies get and, the space chief feels, will “inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers”.
He’s always pushing it. Going further for the sake of his art. Doing all his own stunts. Leaping tall buildings with a single bound, as they used to say about Superman. Staying one step ahead of Bond and Bourne. And why does he do all of this? Is it not, in a small way, because he is, well, tiny?
Over the course of six death-defying instalments of Mission: Impossible, Cruise as special agent Ethan Hunt has scaled tall buildings using suction cups. He’s attempted to jump between tall buildings in London, breaking his leg. He’s clutched onto an Airbus A400 during takeoff. He’s dangled from Utah cliffs 2,000ft high. There was the time he swerved a chopper through a tight mountain range, following that up with crashing a motorbike at high speed, sans helmet. He’s leapt out of a plane at 25,000 feet not once but 106 times. He’s held his breath underwater for seven minutes.
All of which begs the question: why? He could just hire a body double. I’m no psychologist – and by the way, he hates all that stuff – but it’s always seemed to me a self- conscious response to the height issue. If he cannot be seven inches taller then he’s sure as dammit going to stay submerged for seven minutes.
You might wonder, too, why he always runs in his movies and whether it’s for the same reason: to disguise the fact he’s a handy, fun-sized action hero. Either that or to disguise his modest acting abilities, which standing still might expose more.
Cruise used to be best buddies with David Beckham and for all I know they still are. Beckham liked to play football from a stationary position, desperately trying to turn it into American football with its static quarter-backs – or even golf.
I admit my obsession with these two was strange, but I imagined a metrosexual flat-white confab going like this:
Beckham: “Tom, I love all that running you do, I think it’s amazing.”
Cruise: “Thanks, David. Running is very important to me.”
Beckham: “I was wondering though … you run in all your movies, how do you do it?”
Cruise: “Well, when you’re the world’s greatest actor you can make the studios write that stuff into your contract.”
Beckham: “No, I mean the actual running. How do you do the running?”
I worry about Cruise because, crikey, who can hold their breath underwater for seven minutes apart from dolphins? How far is he prepared to go to outrun taller actors and prove himself more daring? On TV the other day I watched the Harry Houdini biopic starring Tony Curtis where the great escapologist met a watery end on stage while manacled upside down in a giant fish-tank. This wasn’t actually how Houdini died but it should serve as a warning: Tom, you’re already a diminutive giant in the world of screen thrills and lesser actors, while they might be looking down on you, are really looking up at you. Be happy with that.
Now, weren’t those photographs of Adele amazing? The singer lost seven stones. But some women see this as betrayal. I should say that I thought she looked amazing before. The pop industry doesn’t really embrace big women.
There’s Lizzo right now but I almost have to go back to the 1970s and Mrs Mills, bingo-wings wobbling as she bashed her jolly pub piano, to find another.
Previously, Adele’s bigness suited the big dramas of her songs. She had, and still has, a bonnie face. But what are we doing dwelling on her looks? It was the voice that was the main thing, the voice of a generation.
So what are her critics – haters – doing dwelling on the change to those looks when Adele clearly wasn’t happy with her body image? Isn’t the decision to change personal and her prerogative?
Those who carp and bitch seem to be saying that she should have stayed imprisoned by her own fat as – what? – feminist solidarity with other vastly overweight women. But it doesn’t seem especially feminist to slag off someone who – while she obviously has the money to effect this change so radically – has the responsibility of motherhood to think about in her desire to be more healthy.
There’s one intriguing aspect to this: will the change to her body alter her voice? We’ll find out soon enough.
Meanwhile, keep watching the skies. Tom Cruise should be flying across them at about the same time.