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How Dumb the Con of Dan

May 22, 2006

I was reluctant to write abou the Da Vinci Code since I only read half the book and I have not seen the movie. But at the risk of becoming an easy target for Codeys (or whatever fans of the book are called), I have to point something out: the Da Vinci Code is complete crap.

Not since the movie Independence Day came out ten years ago has such bad art been so well-liked. But at least Independence Day can be enjoyed as camp. Nobody reads a novel for its camp value; cheese factor is too meager a reward for the investment of 15 hours of dedicated reading time. The only literature that can be enjoyed as camp is poetry written by teenagers, or Maya Angelou.

But even worse than Independence Day, which the director and producers knew was nonsense, Dan Brown actually takes writing very seriously. He spends months in near-seclusion crafting his novels so that he can produce memorable exchanges like this one from the end of a chapter in the Da Vinci Code*:

Sophie: How can I repay you, Dr. Langdon?
Dr. Langdon: There is one thing.
Sophie: Yes?
Dr. Langdon: You can call me Robert.

Of course, every chapter in the Da Vinci Code ends like this, with either a cliffhanger or a cliched witticism. The substance of each chapter is little better; most are either implausible action vignettes or lectures, in dialogue form, on Dan Brown’s nutjob theories about the Catholic Church. And the chapters are short, too, the easier to keep late-night readers turning the pages. It’s like 24: The Novel, minus the grit, wit and Elisha Cuthbert.

The amazing thing is that people actually take Brown’s conspiracy claptrap seriously, and treat it like it’s relevatory. Wait, so you’re saying that Jesus isn’t really the son of God and he actually had a kid? Wow. And I thought he actually walked on water and rose from the dead. The mythology behind Christianity, like the mythology behind all religions, is bullshit anyway. Revealing its secrets is like me revealing the secret treaty between Papa Smurf and Gargamel. It may be mildly amusing, but it’s all make-believe in the first place, and so shouldn’t be taken seriously.

JesusandMary.jpg

“Call me Jesus.”

In a way, though, I guess Dan Brown and the Vatican deserve each other. Both base their fabulous wealth on a wildly popular, poorly written book that purports to reveal the mysteries of the world. At least the writers of the Bible had enough good sense to not have Christ say to Mary Magdalene after he saved her from a life of prostitution, “You can call me Jesus.” That one was a groaner even in Roman times.

*That’s from memory from a book I attempted to read more than a year ago. The exact wording may be off but that’s pretty much how it went.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Brad Glaser permalink
    May 23, 2006 3:34 pm

    Dear (Insert Name of MOWC’s Employer,)

    I thought you’d be interested to know that your loyal employee, Mr. (name withheld to protect the gulity) has chosen his fun little movie blog as a good place to spit vitriol at bad pop fiction, Christianity, religion in general and even, it pains me to say, the Smurfs.

    Sincerely,
    A Concerned Citizen

    P.S. I saw the movie, and it really wasn’t bad. 2.5 – 3 stars, which says something for Ron Howard’s direction, given the material and the exposition-heavy plot.

    P.P.S. In regards to the claptrap, what is really amusing to me is that Dan Brown hit on a rather banal aspect of a very interesting story. While it matters little to me whether there is a “Grail” or what it is, the Catholic Church’s responses to heresies relating to the Grail myths, the Knights Templar and the Merovingian Dynasty (the three not being nearly as related as Brown would have us believe) over the centuries are fascinating tales. His fictionalized “Council of Shadows” and even-more-sinister-than-in-reality Opus Dei may make for more “thrilling” reading, but the real history (not the Holy Blood, Holy Grail crap) of his background info is where the real juice is. To anyone interested, I recommend Ian Wood’s “The Merovingian Kingdoms” and Malcolm Barber’s “The Trial of the Templars.”

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