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Awaiting the Unveiling of The Code

John on May 16, 2006 at 10:08 am

Seems like the whole media world is awaiting The DaVinci Code. NBC devoted about half the Today Show this morning to their new “On the Road with the Code” feature. Despite the inherent boosterism in the segment, the anchors seemed quite comfortable pointing out Dan Brown’s picayune errors — such as the number of glass panes in IM Pei’s pyramid. What they didn’t discuss or even raise were any of the big questions that made the book a phenomenon in the first place. Was Jesus married? No comment. But isn’t the Mona Lisa wonderful! Despite the critical silence on the book’s themes from the MSM, this has to be nerve-wracking for Hollywood. They’ve invested a bunch of money and star power in this film at a time when, culturally speaking, the whole thing seems perilously close to undergoing a shift from intriguing mystery to crackpot conspiracy theory.

A few days ago, I watched Tom Hanks appearance on the Tonight Show. I stuck through the whole thing just to see if the debate over the book’s historical liscence would come up. But in two full segments, both Jay Leno and Tom seemed to be observing a “no controversy” rule. It was almost as if starring in the most highly anticipated film of the year was something Tom was deeply embarrassed about. After a brief clip he smiled nervously and said something like “Now you’ve seen a scene from the movie.” Then the conversation moved on. No teasing with secrets, no promises of great surprises. This wasn’t the usual movie hype, it was more like a pre-emptive media rehabilitation. What is going on?

Over at Get Religion blog, tmatt has some interesting observations about the maneuvering behind the scenes. It seems it’s not just my imagination. The producers really are trying NOT to start a religious debate about this movie. That would explain Ron Howard’s appearance on Today this morning where he said that asking questions is a good thing. Uh…okay, Ron. Brushing your teeth is good too. What about the claims made in the movie? No comment about that. Again the sense that the filmmakers are part of their own conspiracy of silence is eerie. Meanwhile, the phenomenon rolls on and everyone is making money. Mark Steyn has decided to look this particular gift horse in the mouth and offers an amusing look at the book itself and the cottage industry of ancient heresy it has spawned.

If I were a conspiracy theorist like Dan Brown, I’d conclude that the secular illuminati have just realized the popularity of Brown’s book — clearly a conspiracy of some sort — is about to backfire on them. After all the buildup toward a trashing of the Gospels, things have taken a dark turn. Most of those that really look at the evidence find Gnosticism of the sort favored by Brown (and his ivory tower equivalent Elaine Pagels) simply doesn’t stand up well. Worse still, evangelicals seem to have learned from their mistakes. When the Last Temptation of Christ came out, Christians publically stamped their feet in outrage, thereby playing the role of irrational troglodytes in the broader cultural drama. This time out, most evangelicals seem to see The Code as an opportunity to discuss the content on its merits. Rather than trying to act as gatekeepers, orthodox believers are offering their viewpoint in the free market place of ideas. The realization is this: This is a debate we can win on the evidence. Maybe that’s why Hollywood is suddenly very reluctant to start an argument. And the MSM — a far more elite cabal of secret keepers than Opus Dei will ever be — is doing its best to make sure that this particular secret stays one.

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Category: Movies |

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