Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Angels & Demons

I saw Angels & Demons over the weekend and actually found myself giggling a couple of times at the tin-ear dialogue (George Lucas, anyone?) and the ridiculous plot line and shoe-horned moralizing (common threads in the Dan Brown canon). I am not surprised when films like The Fast and the Furious gross tens of millions of dollars - they fill a prevalent adolescent gap in entertainment. But this kind of lazy-minded, id-oriented entertainment is usually promulgated as such and by "B-movie" producers/actors. With Ron Howard and Tom Hanks (who've enjoyed a fair share of near-B-movie quality products, by the way) producing this kind of mindless tripe, however, there is the temptation for readers and viewers of such to walk away with the temptation to feel they are now better informed or somehow have an "inside story" on the subject matter of the films.  This would be like a teenager believing he or she has a better understanding of sexuality and relationships after viewing Porky's. This Ross Douthat article, along these lines, is on point.

See this excerpt:

These are Dan Brown's kind of readers. Piggybacking on the fascination with lost gospels and alternative Christianities, he serves up a Jesus who's a thoroughly modern sort of messiah — sexy, worldly, and Goddess-worshiping, with a wife and kids, a house in the Galilean suburbs, and no delusions about his own divinity.

But the success of this message — which also shows up in the work of Brown's many thriller-writing imitators — can't be separated from its dishonesty. The "secret" history of Christendom that unspools in "The Da Vinci Code" is false from start to finish. The lost gospels are real enough, but they neither confirm the portrait of Christ that Brown is peddling — they're far, far weirder than that — nor provide a persuasive alternative to the New Testament account. The Jesus of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — jealous, demanding, apocalyptic — may not be congenial to contemporary sensibilities, but he's the only historically-plausible Jesus there is.

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