Sunday, May 21, 2006

Headphones and ear muffs

“It's surely now firmly established that Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code is not just a work of fiction. He claims certain parts of the book to be factual and must therefore be held accountable. Problem is, almost all of those alleged facts are false.”

Michael Coren’s column, Da Vinci Code a Disgrace, goes on to discuss why Christians have a right to take offense with Da Vinci Code.

I’ve gone blog to blog, seeing post after post about DVC, but when I saw this editorial...

You see, I haven’t read The Da Vinci Code. I have absolutely no interest. It always brings to mind The Bridges of Madison Country, which I didn’t buy, but a friend gave me. And I read it and was disgusted.

Get beyond whether or not the writing is good writing. That’s not what I’m talking about. Bridges annoyed me because of everything surrounding it. Interviews with the writer, talking about how his mom had sacrificed this great love to keep their family together.

Bull fucking shit.

Where do you get that in the book I read?

Okay okay, I read Bridges a long time ago. But what I remember is some housewife, with all the pressures of real life, getting infatuated with a guy who paid a bit of attention to her. Was it the love of her life? Hello, people. Marry anybody, and I don’t care how perfect you are for each other, sooner or later reality kicks in. You know, the part that boils down to having jobs, cleaning the house, doing the chores, raising the kids, paying the bills… The part of marriage that’s about seeing each other at their worst and still loving each other.

Cover your eyes you romantics. It isn’t all being swept off your feet in a Harlequin moment.

And that really bugged me about that book. Well, I guess it explains why I don’t read much romance. Or, well, any romance. Hell, it probably explains why my weekend has been spent curling up with Simon Kernick books. Uh, if you haven’t read them, insert not fluffy and romantic right here. Incidentally, the two first quotes on my blog post yesterday were from his book, The Murder Exchange.

To get back on track, for whatever reason TDC has stuck in my head as the new Bridges and that played against it from the start. It was the book too many people were talking about.

And then someone actually told me what it was about.

I knew right then I didn’t want to read it.

Because I knew it would offend me.

Now, those of you who are familiar with Simon’s books likely know nobody does hard-boiled like Simon Kernick. Especially when power tools are involved. The fact that nobody’s made movies of his books astounds me. They are edge-of-your-seat, action-packed total guy movie stories. Ian Rankin single-handedly converted me to the crime genre. Simon Kernick single-handedly converted me to hard-boiled. I think if anyone inspired me to write Fucked Again, it was definitely Simon.

So you might be wondering why on earth TDC would offend me. I mean, if I can handle some of the blood splatter in a great Simon Kernick read, what does it take to put me over the edge?


I wasn’t raised to be religious. I was raised to be an atheist, essentially. And I am not Catholic. But I believe in God and I sorted out my beliefs on my own. I’ve read the Bible. I’ve graduated from Bible school.

I’ve also been a, ahem, missionary. A lifetime ago.

This isn’t something I like talking about. As far as I’m concerned, my religious views are none of anybody’s business. Okay, I’ve come a long way over the past 19 years and there aren’t too many people who see things the way I do. I’m not involved in anything organized. I left the church. My faith, my convictions, are between me and God.

And like I said, they’re nobody’s business.

Now, I haven’t gone around and read everything Mr Brown has had to say on the subject, but apparently – and I’ve seen this in several sources, heard it on tv – he’s asserted that the conspiracy in TDC is true.

And as this column By Michael Coren asserts:

“Uncle Tom's Cabin was just a novel but changed attitudes towards race and slavery more than any noble work of non-fiction. Charles Dickens' novels transformed British social policy in the nineteenth-century, H.G. Wells' science fiction heavily influenced European views on disarmament and peace, George Orwell's fiction changed our vocabulary and our perception of state power.
Brown is no Dickens or Orwell, but surveys have revealed that enormous numbers of people believe his book and assume that organized Christianity is indeed an international conspiracy based on lies and violence.”

I know it’s just a book. And you won’t see me at a book burning or campaigning to have the movie boycotted.

But, particularly if surveys are demonstrating that people really believe in this, I support the right of the Catholic Church to take offense and to stand up against this movie.

Bottom line, supposedly, free speech is still valued in our society. People have the right to express their views.

So why the hell shouldn’t people in the church have the right to take a stand for theirs?

Honestly, I haven’t wanted to wade in because I have no interest in this book, no interest in this movie, and no plans to ever subject myself to so much as an hour’s entertainment based off of TDC. I’ve got nothing personal against Dan Brown. I don’t know him. I just have no interest in this.

And I wish fervently that people wouldn’t see the movie, it would tank and people would stop talking about it because I’m sick of it. Horridly selfish of me, isn’t it?

But just because I’m sick of it, it doesn’t mean I’m going to slam anyone’s right to free speech or free choice.

If people take offense to this movie/book, they have the right to go out there and say what they feel.

Meanwhile, I’m going back to wearing headphones covered by ear muffs, even if we are in the middle of a heat wave. Because I’m hypocritical enough to say that while I respect their right to free speech, I also respect my right not to listen to any of it.

For or against the damn movie.

PLEASE, somebody tell me you did something this weekend OTHER THAN go see TDC.


Brett Battles said...

I saw Over the Hedge. It's about a false savior (RJ the Raccoon) leading a group of animal neophyte believers to the promised land (a housing track) to gather the bounty which is supposedly there waiting for them (in trash cans.)

Lo, the Romans (the president of the owners' association and her vermin extinguisher sidekick) try to rid the world of RJ and his apostles. Not to give too much away, but the story involves self-sacrifice and redemption.

Oh, yeah, and there’s a squirrel that gets hyped up on caffeine.

Perhaps I was reading too much into it.

Sandra Ruttan said...

No, no, I think there's a moral there.

Don't drink coffee.

I swear by that.

angie said...

Don't drink coffee? That's pure heresy! (Throws pebbles in a hyper-caffeinated rage)

I don't get what the fuss over TDC is all about. It's fiction, dammit. That's what I just don't get. It's. Not. Real. Okay, if it offends your faith, don't read it or go see the flick. I just saw it as an attempt at a more controversial book version of something along the lines of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Whatever. Folks will do what they will do, but I can't imagine anyone walking away from the book or the film questioning the bedrock of their spiritual beliefs. And if they do...well, they're big dummies.

M. G. Tarquini said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
M. G. Tarquini said...

I went to book signing in which a messiah like figure (Lee Child) signed a book alongside an emerging newbie (Cornelia Read). After it was over, the little children (my twins) were suffered to come unto them and get their books signed. Unfortunately, none of their books were by Mr. Child or Ms Read. Then a prophet (Angie) came out from the wilderness (Prescott, AZ) and swept myself and my little children away to the land of burger and fries.

Um...What's the Da Vinci Code?
reposted due to funny spelling errors.

Vincent said...

I came the book which, umm, inspired The DaVinci Code (and a lawsuit, funnily enough) many years ago and while I didn't read it, I did enough reading about The Templars to uncover the story and its underlying flaw that most of the proof was made up by a Frenchman (as is often the case).

As an idea, as the twist for a novel, it's a very good one. I can see why Dan Brown used it. But I didn't buy the book, despite my interest in conspiracy theories, because the blurb made it sound, well, shite.

The film, by general consensus, is also shite. It's also going to be very, very big. The weekend opening figures haven't been published, but Friday estimates alone come in at $30mil.

I think part of the draw has come from Christian groups telling people not to see the film and decrying its lies. Historically, that's always been a really bad way to convince people to steer clear of something.

But I can see their point and your frustration. While I'm not religious and don't believe in many of the things in The Bible, I also don't believe the Church hides a global conspiracy. Just like I don't believe all governments are corrupt, despite countless thrillers' evidence to the contrary.

And while it is all fiction, it also colours our perceptions. People distrust their governments. They assume multinational corporations are evil. The Church becomes part of another big, secret conspiracy.

The problem with free speech is that when everyone's shouting, it's the voice of reason that's hardest to hear.

JamesO said...

A friend lent me their copy of TDC a while back. I read the first sentence, closed the cover and returned the book. I couldn't bring myself to read the rest.

I suspect my attitude to the movie will be much the same. When it finally makes it to free telly, I'll probably watch the opening scene and then turn over to something more interesting, like a 1970s Open University programme about particle physics. Or the Tellytubbies.

The reason why so many people believe that TDC is true is because there's been so much hype about it. The more it's talked up, the more headlines and wild claims and counter-claims, the more people think 'well, maybe there is something in it after all.' In that respect the Catholic Church is damned either way - complain long and loud, and everyone will assume it's trying to hide something; do nothing and people start to assume Dan Brown's telling the truth.

It's not something that causes me sleepless nights.

I think it was GK Chesterton who said 'when people stop believing in god, they don't believe in nothing - they believe in anything.' We live in an increasingly credulous age.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Angie, LOL!

You know, if I went to see TDC, I wouldn't walk out because it was religiously offensive. Even if it really really was. Honestly, I just don't want to think about it.

Mindy, LOL! And those were funny spelling errors! I have the other copy... Sounds like you had fun, though.

Vincent, great thoughts, great line. James, great comments as well. It is true the Catholic Church is only adding to the hype.

But the people screaming at the church to shut up are only adding fuel to the fire as well.

Really, it's a no-win. Which is why I've got headphones on with earmuffs overtop.

I'm just glad it sounds like people have had decent weekends. I know I have.

Andrea at Lochthyme said...

Nope didn't see the DVC this weekend. I haven't seen a movie in the theater since the third Lord of the Rings movie. :) I'll probably see the DVC when it comes out on video. I did read the book and it was ok. I do like my thrillers. I read it before all the controversy and hype. I personally don't understand all the controversy but it's peoples right to express themselves. But really all it's doing is making Dan Brown rich. And did you know there's now a DVC computer game out there...saw it in the store today. Soon there will be DVC action figures and towels and flags and drinking cups and anything else you can think of. And no I never read Bridges of Madison Country either. And yes all they hype about certain books turns me off so the only reason I actual read the DVC was because i read it before it became a household name.

Andrea at Lochthyme said...

Oh and it's a novel. The fact that people are really believing it to be fact are just silly sheep. I wish people would learn to question things they read and see on tv more but they don't. They just go along with whatever they see or read. My motto is question everything and don't believe everything you read or hear.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Good motto Andrea. Yes, too much hype can work against something - it definitely did with this book, and then I didn't want to even go near the religious debate with a 10-foot pole. I remember the lobbying against movie theatres over Last Temptation of Christ...

David Terrenoire said...

"The reason why so many people believe that TDC is true is because there's been so much hype about it."

No, James, the reason so many people believe the DVC is true is because they're fucking stupid.

I read this POS when a well-meaning friend pressed it into my hands and couldn't believe how badly written it was. But it's got puzzles, and art, and naughty-to-think-about stuff re the Catholic Church, and a princess, and not just any princess, but the heir to Jesus, and there's some stupid violence and stupid romance, and well, if that's not the recipe for a best seller, I don't know what is.

And since my book has sold in the dozens, that's proof that I don't know what the recipe for a best seller is, otherwise I'd be the guy basking in the sun at my villa in Tuscany, trading bon mots with George Clooney.

What I did this weekend: I cut the grass, trimmed the hedges, wrote the first act of this film treatment due Tuesday, watched Undertaking Betty (recommended), played guitar for about three hours, fixed the top on my convertible, took a nap, ran with the dogs (who will get a bath later today) and went over to see what my neighbor was doing. He's helping his son with the kid's eighth grade project. What is it, you ask?

A kayak. The kid's building a fucking kayak for his 8th grade project. A KAYAK! Christ, when I was in 8th grade, I couldn't stop masturbating long enough to change the channels and this kid's building a kayak.

I guarantee he hasn't seen the Da Vinci Code. This kid's got shit to do.

I'm posting more on this over at The Planet later, just because I'm so in awe over this kid's productivity and ambition. Stay tuned.

For The Trees said...

I haven't read the DaVinki Coda because I can't afford the book. My buddy who has a copy is waiting for his wife to read it, so he can loan it to me. I have a sinking feeling she's never gonna be done with it, she's a Fundamentalist Christian and will probably underline the Hell out of it and write Scripture in the margins. So I'm shit outta luck until the waiting list for it at the library gets way, waaaaaaayyy down. Which in this burg of 25,000 people and 107 churches, almost all of which have "Bible" in their name, is probably gonna be almost to the end of Nod. So I haven't read Danny-Boy's bestseller.

Mostly what I've done this weekend so far is drink coffee, go straight to bed and sleep for long periods, drink coffee in an attempt to be awake when Sherry needs tending to, drink coffee to be coherent and check my email (none) and go back to bed for long periods of time, and drink coffee. Sorry, Sandra, but coffee is another one of my raisons d'etre. Yeah, I have several. Why not? I have been dealing with three personalities since I was eight. May as well have separate raisons.

Oh, and I wrote two - count'em, two - blog posts. One was almost as short as my award-winning two-word entry, the other ran a full three pages in Word. (Well, in 14-point type.)

And coffee. Ah, magic brew. I haven't been in a movie theater since Star Wars' original series. Just can't handle suspending disbelief that long. And boy, do I suspend disbelief! That's why reading books is so hard, I get so far into them I have great trouble coming back into this "real" world. And I love coffee.

Anyway, that's been my weekend. I didn't even go out and spray the yard for weeds...and it needs it, the beautiful white rocks are getting covered up with low green silage the deer won't eat. Maybe I need to plant oats or something.

Thanks for another great column/post/rant/rave/diatribe. You've surpassed your normal verbal exquisiteness. Especially about how the Church is damned either way. Boy, in all these years you'd think they'd have learned SOMETHING. But no, they just burn another heretic. Oh, well...barbecue, anyone? It's very tasty.

James Goodman said...

I've had quite the busy weekend, but didn't set one foot near a theater. :D

Sandra Ruttan said...

So David, you're posting about how you couldn't stop wacking off, or you're posting about the kid building the kayak? Just wanted to be clear on that so I sent the right crowd over.

Yeah, fucking stupid.

And you know guys, the Ruttan's were Huguenot's, so there's definitely a bit of dislike of the discussion of burning heretics at the stake.

I respect religious freedom, but I think killing Mr Brown in such a manner is going a wee bit far.

Forrest, you've got to give up the coffee man!

James, I could guess what you've been doing this weekend. I'm sure you had a good one.

David Terrenoire said...

The kid building the kayak, Sandra. The masturbation is not news.

S. W. Vaughn said...

What, you mean there was a movie?

I confess, I spent this weekend on the couch hacking up a lung (nasty chest cold). And I further confess that I had no interest in reading TDC either, and would never have considered it had my writing group (curse them! Curse them all!!) not chosen the book as discussion material last year.

I won't even touch the writing issues. Not with a thirty-nine-and-a-half-foot pole. But I will say this: TDC, The Movie will never claim two and a half hours of my life. The book's already done that job.

(DT -- great kayak story. I'm afraid of your neighbor kids. Very afraid)

Sandra Ruttan said...

SW, I hope you're feeling better.

JT Ellison said...

Dare I admit I enjoyed the book, and will see the movie at some point? (More likely when it comes out on Netflix, just like MI-3, simnply beacuse I hate to miss a moment, and those big cokes always drive me away from the screen a couple of times)
Whether you liked it or not, what drives me nuts are poeple who haven't read the book, yet have a well delineated position about it based simply on news accounts. Grrrr....

Sandra Ruttan said...

Yeah JT, and a lot of people have strong religious views who haven't read the Bible too. Maybe there should be a 'criticize what you know' campaign.

That would go over well.

Christa M. Miller said...

I heart you, Sandra! :D I'm not reading TDC, not watching it, not paying attention to the hype. LALALALALALALA. Loathe hype.

The closest I got to a theater this weekend was walking past it, on my way to a coffee shop so I could write the day away.

Boy Kim said...

Why is it that people are "scared" to admit that they actually enjoyed The DaVinci Code these days? Oh, I know... because there are a lot of bullies out there, and people don't like getting bullied.

Like someone up there (and I mean in the comments section, not God), I read it well before the hype started and I also enjoyed it. Also like a few other someones up there, I know it's fiction. Crucify me for not being outraged by it.

I usually read a book a week so I read it, I enjoyed it, I moved on.

As far as the film is concerned, I'm a sad and lonely middle-aged man, but I ain't quite sad and lonely enough yet to go to the cinema on my own.

Oh, has the phrase tall poppy syndrome made its way to that side of the Atlantic yet?

Sandra Ruttan said...

Sounds like a nice way to spend the day Christa.

Well, minus the coffee. (Ducks)

Boy Kim, tall poppy syndrome? No, what does that mean? Fess up!

I don't care if people liked it or didn't like it - I just wish people would move on, already!

Daniel Hatadi said...

I think the really important issue here is this phrase:

"Bull fucking shit."

The imagery you have used is intense. There is movement, sound, smell. Very evocative.

I give it 4 and 1/2 stars.

Amra Pajalic said...

Well I have to confess I read the Da Vinci Code. While some of the criticism of the novel is well-founded-cardboard characterisation, passable writing, it was a rollicking ride and I found the religious sub-plot interesting.

But as a person who thinks religion is propaganda to brainwash the masses into being malleable, any conspiracy involving any religion floats my boat.

I also read The Bridges of Maddison County. I enjoyed the book, but fuck did I love the movie. Clint Eastwood is a genius. There is a scene that I keep thinking about.

While I agree with you Sandra about the notion of romance, the most romantic thing my husband can do for me is wash the cutlery because he hates washing because he worked as a dishwasher for years, I still have soft spot for that kind of romance. And that whole novel/movie represented a generation of women who married pragmatically and gave up their lives to their children and husband, so this whole book was about a moment in time when she took care of herself. I'm feeling all sappy now.

Anyway my pet peeve novel was Memoirs of a Geisha. I went off my nut during the whole hype. What the fuck is a white Jewish guy doing writing about a geisha? Yeah, I know that writers can use their imagination but I read that book and just didn't buy it at all.

Amra Pajalic said...

I forgot to tell you what I did on the weekend: I finished my novel. Yeah. I still have to work on the ending. It's pretty crappy and doesn't live up to the book but now I can tinker with it this week.

E. Ann Bardawill said...

I'm not seeing TDVC for the sole reason that Hanks looks totally dorky with that lame haircut.

God works in mysterous ways.

Now. Kinky Boots.
THERE'S a movie I wanna see.

Sandra Ruttan said...

AMRA! Congratulations! That's awesome - just finishing is a huge accomplishment, and given everything going on in your life, this is probably good timing. Fantastic news.

As for religious conspiracies, there are ones I can buy into. Ones that don't bother me at all. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, but man, I've got no interest in this one.

I know what you mean about romance, though. I can still appreciate a sappy moment. But in very small doses.

Liz, haircuts can be a major turn-off. Glad to see this one saved you.

And Daniel, LOL! That's hilarious!

Christa M. Miller said...

Oh, I didn't *drink* any coffee. I like it about as much as I like hype. I just sat there mooching because there were tables available. (Well, OK, I had a green chai. And an oat bar with chocolate in it. Totally splurged because there was no 3-year-old climbing into my lap and stealing my treats.) Not coincidentally I'm sure, the writing flowed. Something tells me a certain movie (or book, for that matter) would've killed that creative spark...

James Lincoln Warren said...

I don't blame anybody for writing a bestseller. Not even Dan Brown.

It's just that next time, I hope it's me.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

"No, James, the reason so many people believe the DVC is true is because they're fucking stupid."

LOL...David summed it all up for me...and I didn't have to blush saying it...LOL!

I read the book back in 2003, when it came out. It was OK, but I didn't like the writing.

Because of the background I have in teaching the Bible and applicable subjects, I pretty much could pick out all the falsehoods.

But it was a novel...not I didn't care.

A whole cottage industry has grown up around debunking TDC. It would be laughable if it wasn't so sad that people as a whole are so gullible.

I didn't, and won't be seeing the movie...enough time wasted on that tripe. This weekend I bought some previously viewed DVD's....watched Hostage with Bruce Willis.

Now that was a good movie!

JamesO said...

And here's me I was trying to be polite. I should have known better...

Yeah, people are fucking stupid. They are also incredibly gullible and lemming-like. So the hype feeds on itself and lo, we have the situation as it is today,

And in a way I feel a bit sorry for Dan Brown. All he did was nick a few ideas from some crackpot conspiracy theorists and weave them into a potboiler in his own imitable style. He didn't ask to be the world's most hated smug bastard.

Mind you, the money probably goes a long way to making him not care.

Candi said...

The DaVinci Code made $77 million this weekend in the US alone. It made $224 million internationally. My husband's boss got him a copy of the book a couple of years ago. I have never read it- there is nothing about it that interests me. My husband has opened it twice and looked at the inside of the jacket, but he hasn't read it either. You know, when DVC was a mere novel that sat at the top of the bestsellers list for-frickin'-ever, I don't remember hearing or seeing any big protests about it from the church. Now every church I drive by seems to have a sermon advertised on their sign called something like "The DaVinci Lie" or "Why Dan Brown Should Die and Burn in Hell Forever". Okay, not the last one, but the first one is real. What's my point? Well, I just keep wondering why the movie is a much bigger deal than the book. Okay, I know the probable answer- that's just how our society is. Movies are more important than books. THAT is what bugs me about the whole thing.

And to M.G. who went to a Lee Child signing- you are so lucky. I wish I'd spent my weekend that way. A few years ago I read (and loved) his book The Killing Floor, so I gave it a good review on DorothyL. He sent me a note thanking me! And he's cute, too!!

Sorry, Sandra- didn't mean to make your blog sound like my 12 year-old daughter's "I LOVE JOHN STAMOS" blog for a minute there. :)

Sandra Ruttan said...

LOL JLW! Hope you corner the market next time too.

"It would be laughable if it wasn't so sad that people as a whole are so gullible." Great line Bonnie!

Christa, good. James, too funny. Polite on my blog?

Candi, I don't mind those moments of enthusiasm. Angie has pictures posted on her blog - - omg, do I really not have a link up yet? I have a list in my bookmarks bar of all the blogs I frequent that I use now, can't believe it. I've got to update my links. Again.

Besides, I gush all the time about my favourite writers. Enthusiasm for writers is a welcome thing!

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