The London Times has an article reporting on the controversy surrounding the film adaptation of The Da Vinci code. I would like you to read the article for yourself before reading the rest of this entry (don’t worry its really short”¦the article not this entry), but I’ll summarize anyway: The Catholic League (which is not an official mouthpiece for the Roman Catholic Church) calls for Ron “Opie” Howard to place a disclaimer on the movie stating the film is a work of fiction; people are upset because the Catholic Church and Opus Dei are portrayed “inaccurately”; many believe Opie should stick to directing films with space rockets and fire engines.
Okay, that last thing was mine, but you get the picture.
Several things bother me about this whole controversy. First, the Times have their facts wrong, which drives me batshit. The article states
“The Da Vinci ”¦is based on a novel that has sold 25 million copies worldwide. Among its more controversial claims is that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, a former prostitute, and that she bore him a child. This has been denounced as virulently anti-Catholic and a risible hoax.”
Unfortunately for the Times, no where does the book claim that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. In fact, the protagonist of the novel Robert Langdon goes to incredible lengths in an attempt prove how M.M. has been the victim of one of the most elaborate smear campaigns in history, and the notion that she was a prostitute was one of the many tactics our patriarchal society used in an attempt to marginalize her.
Second: When you’re constructing a thriller you need a really powerful antagonist. If you’re writing a religious thriller you don’t really have very many candidates to fill that role. Who’re you gonna pick? The Baptists? I don’t think so. Only one religious institution has been around for centuries, hell almost a millennium, and that’s the Roman Catholic Church. Sorry, but the Catholic Church is a very old, and powerful institution, and right or wrong that very fact makes it susceptible to manipulation by the authors of fiction. ( Note that word”¦it’s important)
Further, anyone who has done any type of literary criticism knows you should never make blanket statements regarding authorial intentionality or authorial philosophy, especially if you are using ONE TEXT to construct your argument. To even attempt to make the claim that Brown’s work is anti-Catholic a critic would need to carefully analyze everything Dan Brown has written, and then very carefully draw conclusions based on his body of work. In his other novel Angels and Demons, the Catholic Church emerges as quite responsible, so how does that figure into all of this?
Third: It’s fiction. FICTION! The Times article says, “Last month the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales denounced it as logically and historically flawed. In March the Vatican appointed a top cardinal to rebut what it dismissed as lies, distortions and errors.” Thanks for pointing out the obvious. I mean, even though the copyright page of the book states “All of the characters and events in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental,” or the fact that the book resides in the fiction section of my bookstore, I still thought it was real. I needed an official statement letting me know the facts contained in the novel, were not actually facts.
Finally, don’t we all have something a little bit more important to be worrying about other than Tom Hank’s new movie? Really, with all the shit happening in the world and we’re worried about this? Seems a little silly to me.
I can never figure why some movies are protested and some aren’t. The only reason I can think of is money. This movie will make lots of it because of this formula (tom hanks + ron howard) * most popular book of 2003/ religious controversy = $$$$$$$ The movie Stigmata was one of the most anti-Catholic films I have ever seen and I never saw an ounce of publicity on it. My guess as to why? Because the biggest thing that movie had going for it was Gabriel Byrne.