So Long As There Are Still Sheep In America

Bill Donohue will remain un-laid:

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Director Ron Howard on Tuesday defended his
film adaptation of “The Da Vinci Code” author Dan Brown’s “Angels &
Demons” from criticism that it smears the Roman Catholic Church,
heightening an ongoing battle over fictional depictions of the Vatican.

Howard, who also directed the 2006 movie adaptation of “The Da Vinci
Code,” posted a blog at The Huffington Post website saying that neither
he nor his new movie “Angels & Demons,” which debuts in May and
stars Tom Hanks, are anti-Catholic.

“And let me be a little controversial: I believe Catholics,
including most in the hierarchy of the Church, will enjoy the movie for
what it is: an exciting mystery, set in the awe-inspiring beauty of
Rome,” Howard wrote.

Howard’s post came in response to an opinion piece in the New York
Daily News by Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League for
Religious and Civil Rights, last week. Donahue accused Brown and Howard
of “smearing the Catholic Church with fabulously bogus tales.”

Last year, the Catholic Church refused to let “Angels & Demons”
be filmed in churches in Rome because of the Vatican’s outrage over
“The Da Vinci Code.”

My chief problem with “Angels and Demons” (the book, natch, nobody’s slipped me a screener or anything) is that like “The DaVinci Code” before it, it’s such a gigantic piece of shit. I’m a card-carrying confirmed member of Donohue’s cannibalistic crucifixion cult, so I’m as available as anyone to get offended by depictions of the Roman Catholic Church as a power-mad conspiracy-driven sinkhole where decency and faith go to die and power goes to become exalted through corruption, yet I remain unoffended by the work of Dan Brown because it’s such fucking CRAP.

Honestly. When The DaVinci Code was first published there was this huge scandalous nonsensical brouhaha, and it enraged the shit out of me, mostly because it was billed as this groundbreaking work of religious blasphemy, and in reality it was this cheap, pulpy, kind of sad book sold to people who don’t really know much about religion or faith.

It violated Athenae’s First Rule of Being An Asshole: If you’re going to be offensive, make it fucking count. There wasn’t anything alleged in TDC that hasn’t been well-known to basement-dwelling nutbars for decades, not to mention actual Biblical scholars. Shock the shit out of me, you mean Mary Magdalene might not have been a whore as we know whores today, that her role in Jesus’ band of merry men might have been deliberately dumbed down and obscured to preserve an all-male priesthood? Get the fuck out. Apparently I was supposed to be scandalized by this accusation which no one had ever made before except for everybody ever. Unfortunately I’d readthis, and so my outrage was focused on Brown ripping off Laurie King’s idea and hoping she’d sue his irritating ass.

The real reason I lack outrage, though? The fucking earth is caving in right now. Iran’s about to go all nuke-tastic, apparently Venezuela can kill us all with books, everyone I know is either out of a job or about to be, and every day children starve to death all over the planet and get blown up by land mines and don’t have access to schools and get married off at the age of seven to creepy old dudes who may or may not be related to them but want to rape them no matter what. Every day this occurs. There is no shortage of shit for Catholics to do. It’s not like we’re sitting around twiddling our thumbs.

Yet what Donohue, a man with an enormous microphone and a willing audience of the easily led who apparently hang on his every word, wants us Catholics to get morally outraged about is a movie made from a crappy book which last I checked has killed exactly nobody. That’s a much bigger scandal than anything Dan Brown’s admittedly limited imagination has cooked up to date.

A.

20 thoughts on “So Long As There Are Still Sheep In America

  1. Awesome rant, again, Athenae.
    Donohue is a wingnut profiteer who would be a Wal-Mart greeter if the media ignored his self-promoting press releases.
    BTW, I’ve been to Rennes-le-chateau in southwest France, where the DaVinci Code stuff allegedly originated.
    And there’s nothing there, besides a little church and a weird “museum” related to the myth.
    There are some good views of the northern Pyrenees, at least.

  2. I read “Angels and Demons” and found it to be a real page-turner, although one that left me feeling that my time could have been better spent. But unlike “The DaVinci Code” (which I only know from the film version), I don’t think “Angels and Demons” actually attacks the Catholic Church. Spoiler Alert for those who care: by the end of the novel, you find that the big Illuminati conspiracy is really a big hoax created by one power-crazy guy who wants a straw man to beat up on so he can become pope. He fails, and by the novel’s end, a Good Man has been made pope instead. It’s like Dan Brown thought about destroying Catholicism (fictionally, that is) in his book, but backed down.
    But he didn’t back down in “The DaVinci Code” — one might think that Brown was really trying to live up to Athenae’s First Rule of Being an Asshole (which is a new one one me). “Code” is a book with a storyline purporting that the gospel accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection are wrong, and that having his direct blood descendant living on earth is the really important thing. That qualifies as a hit on both the basic Christian teaching of Jesus’ sacrifice saving our souls, and the Catholic Church’s claim to legitimacy as a middleman between people and God. Those things might actually bug some people.
    Except, of course, that it’s just a work of fiction, as you note, not something actually true. You don’t have to be a believing Christian to see that the claims made by the characters in “The DaVinci Code” don’t add up to much in real life. I think the theological claims of other actual religions are more of a challenge to Catholicism than any paperback thriller made into a Tom Hanks move could be. If Brown was indeed being an asshole, I don’t think he succeeded in keeping Athenae’s First Rule and making it count (except the part where he made a big pile of money).

  3. I’ll stick with my Umberto Eco for that kind of thing, thanks anyway!
    Disclaimer: I haven’t actually read any of Brown’s books, nor seen the film adaptations.

  4. Donohue is a small man; without the electronic media he’d be some guy ranting on a street corner.
    Randy Owens sez:
    I’ll stick with my Umberto Eco for that kind of thing
    Oh, yes!
    .

  5. Hi A. Whether Brown meant it or not (which is an open question) a lot of people took DC to be quasi-nonfiction. That was the trouble more than anything. I read it and thought it was a decent read – AS FICTION. If you take it to be some kind of back door revelation of a REAL CONSPIRACY then you’ll end up with a big brouhaha. Again, maybe Brown wanted that – he sure didn’t seem to discourage it – but it’s hard to blame him when he publishes a book explicitly labeled as fiction and people largely take it otherwise.

  6. And as for Eco, I loved The Name of the Rose but some of his other stuff goes a little off the deep end for my taste.

  7. To paraphrase Umberto Eco, Brown (not Langdon) is the pathetic man he wrote about in Foucault’s Pendulum. Teehee!
    And I got booed down on amazon.com because folks don’t get the point of Foucault’s Pendulum, which is that each of us, each of our precious lives is the holy grail, our inner enlightenment waiting to be realized, once we stop looking for salvation everywhere else but in us. Dumb dualist sheep just don’t get it.

  8. I remember hauling off and throwing The Da Vinci Code at the wall of my (then) apartment because I was so pissed off at the INCREDIBLY BAD AND BASICALLY INACCURATE HISTORY being passed off as having some sort of acquaintance with reality.
    You’re right, if you’re going to go with a new mythology, you need to go whole-hog, that’s all there is to it.

  9. I have an everlasting hatred for Dan Brown because for about three years after DC came out, I had to spend a significant portion of my lecture time on early Christianity and Mary Magdalen *and* Da Vinci debunking all the crap from that book. (It’s particularly a shame regarding MM, because I think there’s a lot of interesting stuff that could be said about her and her relationship to early Christianity if I didn’t have to keep saying, “No, goddamn it, there was no baby!!!!! Forget about the fucking baby!!!!”)
    I had read DC before all the brouhaha hit, found it a reasonably entertaining page turner, if mostly fluff interpersed with what were clearly (to me) inaccuracies included to keep the (admittedly weak) plot intact, and then didn’t give it much more thought. After all, the literary world is chock full of “historical” novels in which the history is more fiction than fact. If I got het up about all of them, I’d be really tired. But then I started getting students asking me questions about DC, and some were surprisingly persistent (and obnoxious–“You’re just defending the Catholics!” Oh for fuck’s sake…).
    Luckily, things eased up after the book’s popularity died down. Till the movie came out, and I had to do it all over again. I am *not* looking forward to having to answer more questions with “IT’S BAD FUCKING FICTION, YOU DIMWIT!!” hidden in academic language.
    Bite me, Dan Brown. And ditto to Tom Hanks (what the fuck was that hair in DC?) and to Ron Howard (how could you do that to the sublime Audrey Tautou, you sonofabitch!?). The books are crap. I actually read Angels and Demons (know your enemy) and had to suppress the urge to chuck it multiple times. It’s the same goddamned book as DC. Not similar, not a riff on, the same damned book. Jeebus, it’s infuriating. This guy’s using up a hundred quality authors’ advances–it’s criminal.

  10. p.s. I only now realized why the whole Mary Magdalen thing makes me so crazy. It’s that DC turns this interesting historical figure, with a world of theological implications wrapped up in her story, into a baby machine.
    No wonder the fundies loved it.

  11. If it’s any consolation, not only do I have a job that I’m not in danger of losing, it’s looking like by the fall I’ll have two. Which, to bring this more on topic, is some kind of bleeding blue-eyed miracle, as far as I’m concerned.

  12. didn’t read it, didn’t see the movie. i am just enjoying the church being destroyed on the tudors.
    i gotta find my inquistion book for my blog.

  13. i am just enjoying the church being destroyed on the tudors.
    They got the Pilgrimage of Grace mostly right.
    Historical accuracy onThe Tudors!? Amazing!
    .

  14. BlakNo1: OK, yes, I’ll gladly take someMillennium too. I was especially amused recently to find out that yes, Frank Black was actually deliberately named after the guy from The Pixies. I’d always wondered about that!

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