Friday, June 02, 2006

DaVinci Code: Why All The Fuss?

A few years ago, there was uproar over the release of a movie which was alleged to be anti-Semitic: Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ. After actually seeing the movie, the general consensus was that the movie was not anti-Semitic, though those charging anti-Semitism made much of the Christianity of Mel Gibson and the Christian message of the film. It turned out that Mel Gibson had gone to some lengths to make sure the film was not anti-Semitic. Back then, the religion of those involved in filmmaking and the actual content of the film both seemed self-evidently worthwhile things to consider when religious feelings were being stirred.

For The DaVinci Code, there was financing by a firm founded by one Mohammed Yusuf, a screenplay written by Akiva Goldman (yes, he was born of two Jewish parents, in case the name wasn't a giveaway), and one openly homosexual actor who has used the publicity over the movie's anti-Christianity as a soapbox to push his own anti-Christian views. Does being Muslim, Jewish, or homosexual automatically make one anti-Christian? Not automatically, for sure; still if Mel Gibson's religion raises a valid question in the discussion of his film, then it is likewise a valid question in this case. The fact that the story is explicitly anti-Christian would make it unlikely for someone to be involved who was not personally anti-Christian, though this is big business and someone might work on an anti-Christian movie simply for the money. Ron Howard has remarked that those who are bothered by such a movie shouldn't watch it. Time will tell whether Howard has anti-Christian biases, whether he really is that naive, or whether the financial aspects triumphed over any other concern in his eyes. I certainly haven't heard any news of Ron Howard hiring devout Christian actors and making sure that what was filmed was ok with a devout Christian, the way that Mel Gibson did in making sure The Passion of the Christ would not be anti-Semitic.

Here are the things that bother me most about the Da Vinci Code:
  1. That it has attracted a number of people who are unsympathetic or hostile towards Christianity by virtue of the fact that, yes, Virginia, the story is anti-Christian in a way that is neither an accident nor a minor point: without the anti-Christianity, there's not much left of the plot.
  2. "It's fiction" is used as a cloak to deflect mention of the fact that it's propaganda and a sort of verbal vandalism at the same time. Do we want the genre of fiction used as a "get out of criticism free" card for caricaturing groups you dislike or inconvenient facts in any ugly way you please?
  3. In abusing the genre of fiction in this way, the people involved in the movie (and, before it, the book) have gone beyond the bounds of good taste or civil discourse.
  4. In abusing the genre of fiction in this way, the people involved have gone beyond the bounds of ethics. Using fiction to smear your enemies is unethical because smearing your enemies is unethical. "It's fiction" really isn't a valid excuse.
  5. As usual, most of the media coverage of all this misses the point and mischaracterizes it as "religious people getting upset over differing views." I suspect the mischaracterization is at times deliberate for this reason: it has been said that if all the mistakes were simple accidents or ignorance, the law of averages would demand that at least some of the mistakes be made in each direction. When all of the mistakes tend towards one direction alone, credibility should be strained as to whether the oversights are entirely innocent.
  6. This concentration of non-Christian or anti-Christian people to work on an explicitly anti-Christian movie has caused no visible concern outside of specifically Christian camps. There is a certain escalation of anti-Christianity in mainstream venues in recent years. While it is unclear how far the escalation will go, it is worth noticing that non-Christians who traditionally claim that they uphold civil discourse are not noticeably objecting to Da Vinci Code's crossing of boundaries of good taste, civil discourse, or ethics when Christians are the targets.


Seven Star Hand said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Weekend Fisher said...

Dear "seven star hand" -- what you posted less than unsubstantiated, it's thoroughly disproved. Since this is my blog, your comment is hitting the trash. You said "scoffing causes blindness" but you don't seem to consider that you're the one scoffing ...

Take care & God bless