Friday, May 26, 2006

DVC in USA Today

USA Today had a whole section of their editorial page devoted to DVC responses from around the country. I didn't want to make my last post too long, so here are some of the wonderful things the nation's editorial pages are saying...

From Newsday :

The (movie) critics hated DVC, and many churches have boycotted it - but audiences flocked to see it...To put it bluntly, for all its flaws, Code has one saving grace. It's About Something. It's not car chases in Los Angeles, or guys chasing after girls in Manhattan. It's about Christianity, whcich has dominated the past 2,000 years of Western Civilization."

Oh, and gee, the Passion was about the same thing. But somehow I don't recall Newsday saying it was good b/c it was "about something."

Jay Ambrose, a columnist for Scripps-Howard, compares DVC to "Raiders of the Lost Ark" saying that it's "another thrilled with religious overtones but not a single theological thought anyone should take seriously."

You're right Jay, they shouldn't. But some do. Just ask enough Catholics who have had people ask them "Is this stuff true?!" And it really doesn't matter. If this was a movie about Jews or Muslims, people would be mad.

Saul Rosenthal in The Rocky Mountain News writes, "...those who think that thoughtful Catholics and Protestants will abandon their respective churches or ask that the Gospels be revised after seeing DVC are also wrong. Let's give people more credit. They know it's a movie. "

Um, no Saul, they don't. Because people who read the book thought a lot of it was real. And that's because, as Alan Cochrum, a mebmer of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram said, "Dan Brown didn't use his turn signal...There are unwritten rules for how you treat history in fiction, and our boy Dan broke's a suggestion for future authors: if you like to jerk chains when it comes to history and religion, at least use your literary turn signal. People might be a lot less likely to learn on the horn when your book suddenly takes a corner or two on the wheels."

Thank you, Alan! Thank you!


andrea said...

I couldn't disagree with you more :-)

To begin with, there are facts in the novel. Of course, they are mixed in with the fiction, which is what people complain about. However, this mixing fact with fiction is extremely common in so many other areas - medical thrillers, historical fiction, etc., often mixing them so much that it's hard to see where they seperate (some of the problems people have here). Of course, this is what makes these books good! You don't have to suspend your disbelief as much because parts of it are true, or based on true concepts/ideas/historical events, so you can get into the book more. People enjoy them also because they feel like they're learning something (which they ARE; although of course not all of the story is true, they are still learning some basic principles/ideas/vocabulary about the topic). Many people don't use their "turn signals" here either, and that (to an extent) is what makes it so interesting.

As to the idea that people would be making a much bigger deal out of it if it were about Muslims or Jews - I think you are probably right (or at least about the Muslims). However, that doesn't mean that just because they can't handle criticism (from the author) and questioning (from the readers) about their religion that we/you shouldn't! When religions start forbidding their followers to question it, they lead themselves quickly into trouble. The same idea goes with governments - people should not just blindly follow their government (see WWII Germany) but should question if they actually beleive/agree with what they are saying/doing. The same should be true with religion. Questioning keeps everyone honest and allows for change (which is VERY important in a changing world/society).

"Protesting" the movie to me sounds like a bad idea. By protesting something, you're making it out to seem as though people should not see the movie and therefore bring questions into their minds about religion. Or, I guess, that people shouldn't make these movies in the first place. Neither of these should be true.

Instead of "protesting," why not use the movie as a teaching aid, setting up workshops/lectures/classes where some religious authority talks about what is and isn't true in the novel and answers people's questions about it? This would be a much, much more constructive approach, and wouldn't endore the shady views that the book talks about - that the Catholic church tries to cover up things that they don't agree with so that they won't change people's minds. By protesting the movie, they are going along with this stereotype. Can you protest? Sure. But let's not follow the other religions' examples, and let's be a little more constructive about it and use it as an opportunity to teach.

Emily said...

Well yeah, we've all read John Grisham and historical fiction. I am a big fan of historical fiction generally. But you're making a contact with your reader when you mess with history or science or medicine. If you're going to mess with it, then you let the reader know - you don't put a big page labled "FACT" at the beginning of your book that's full of quasi-facts or outright wrong things. That's not cool and that's not what the reader should be getting. I don't care that it's fiction-- the best fiction writers do copious research before they dive into a story. You have to make it somewhat accurate or people just won't buy it. It would be like if I wrote a book on Henry VII saying he secretly had a son that was smuggled away to France with a secret seventh wife/mistress and really the whole British baronage as we know it is crap. Well that wouldn't be right. Same thing here.
I could say more (you know that!!) but it was a looong weekend. Maybe I'll respond more later.

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