The Corner

Da Vinci Code

I’m lacking in some qualifications here in that I haven’t read the book or seen the movie. But I think some of the conversation about TDV misses an important point: the book is really frickn’ popular. My guess is there have been thousands of books and movies “revealing” or imagining any number of conspiracies hatched by the Catholic Church (Among my favorites, John Carpenter’s Vampires). The reason we’re talking about the Da Vinci Code is not that Brown’s vision is uniquely blasphemous or outrageous, but because the book is really, really popular. The “open conspiracy” (to borrow from H.G. Wells) that Stan ascribes to Hanks et al is in some significant part a fairly banal one. Are we really going to get our dudgeon up over the fact that Hollywood made a movie about a murder mystery novel that sold some 40 million copies?

Stan’s objections to Big Love and the like is more reasonable, it seems to me, because there is no huge market begging for a dramatic defense of polygamany. But blaming the supply rather than analyzing the demand when it comes to TDV strikes me as fundamentally wrongheaded. I think it’s very interesting that this story is so popular. And, without getting too far out on a limb, my guess is that the reasons are simultaneously  more complex than conservative theorizing about secular liberalism and more simple.  For one, while I haven’t read the Left Behind series either,  from some of the stuff I’ve read, it seems to me there’s an appetite out there among bona fide members of the conservative coalition for elaborate and somewhat unfriendly theories about the Catholic Church. And, more simply, the book is by most accounts a lot of fun to read.  Surely that explains some of this too.

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