The problem I had with the DaVinci Code was the same problem I had with The Passion of the Christ. It SUCKED. The fanfiction term for the lead character is a Mary Sue (or, since the character is male, Marty Stu): a blatant self-insert. C’mon. Tweedy professorial type who nonetheless gets all the chicks with his dashing derring-do? Yawn. Forget the revelations-that-aren’t. It’s amateurishly written, and its being viewed as anything other than one of a slew of cheap thrillers is a triumph of marketing, not literature.
As I told my Catholic mother one day when I was ranting about it, the marketing of the book as “controversial” presumes a level of ignorance among Catholics about their own church that verges on the total. I’ve been hearing about Jesus dallying with Mary M. since high school, there’s nothing shocking there for me or anybody else who was paying attention. But just as with The Passion, people who love to hear themselves talk now had another opportunity to use their vocal chords. And with all the restraint of Backstreet Boys fans, church groups jumped on it, going way over the top to discuss it in sermons and treat it as if it was serious scholarship and not pop culture bullshit. Archbishops gave interviews about it. And then there were books about the DaVinci Code book, spinoffs upon spinoffs, and Dan Brown’s laughing all the way to the bank.
I don’t get too worked up about crap writers like Nicholas Sparks making bazillions off things I wouldn’t use to light my fire. It’s too easy to get into that “anything on the best seller list is shit” elitism, and hey, I have to admire the ability of bullshit artists to separate rubes from their money. But I do get annoyed with people who are supposed to be serious treating a pop novel as scholarship just because the author says it is. Eventually, the denials and denouncing and hysteria just makes the whole thing a bigger story than it ever would have been had the Catholic Church as a whole looked at the book, said “Eh,” and let it sink to the bottom of the remainder bin.