Friday, June 02, 2006

Movie Ushers in Awaited Age of Dan Brown Bashing

Yeah, you know who Dan Brown is, don’t act coy. Suddenly finding people who have actually read “The DaVinci Code” is like locating Atlantis. Thanks to a lackluster movie and years of sensationalizing, anyone with even an pinch of angst about the “DaVinci” franchise is now empowered to speak up about it. Dan Brown’s book has become the “Cracked Rear View” of our decade.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? I’ll bet you do but you’re going to play cool now.

The DaVinci code has sold, to date, 40 million copies. Excluding old people who can’t see and kids who can’t read, that represents a sizeable chunk of the literary populace. I’m sure you’ve read the book, and you’re probably starting to feel ashamed. I’ll bet you say “Yeah, I read it…” a little sheepishly now that 40 million other people have joined you. This is exactly the angle critics are trying to latch on to.

Critics are lining up to pan the movie and now the book. They call the prose clunky, the plot contrived, and the sentences forgettable. I just read an article called “DaVinci Code's last secret: how did it succeed?” People are now actually asking: since the book was so terrible how was it popular? People are denying the book faster than Peter denying Christ.

“Didn’t you read the book?”
“I never did.”
“I think I saw you reading the book.”
“Not me, never.”
“Didn’t you recommend the book to me in 2003?”
“I’m telling you I never read it!”

Somewhere, a rooster crowed.

Ah, but don’t you listen to their newfound emboldened rhetoric about how bad the book was. What they want you to think is that they’re smarter or more sophisticated than you. A month ago to have read the book was to be part of some unspoken club. Now it’s a sign of slavishness. You’ll never get that time back! Did you actually like that trash? You call that a “novel”?

The movie revealed a chink in DaVinci’s armor, and critics are rushing to fire their poisoned arrows through. I’m not really sure why, because I didn’t think the movie was that bad. But, I also haven’t read the book. I think it shows that this franchise jumped the shark at some point and critics are now ready to feed off it.

This type of thing seems to happen all the time. In 1994 “Hootie and the Blowfish” released “Cracked Rear View” and it promptly went on to over 13 million sales in its first year of release. Rolling Stone said lead singer Darius Rucker’s voice was a “thrilling discovery and gave the album three and a half stars out of five. A few years later they were headed down the “Peter Frampton Memorial Highway.” Sad, really. Now you can’t even find someone to admit they owned a Hootie album or saw them in concert. But you’re out there, and you can’t escape your past, and you shouldn’t have to.

Hootie fans may have gone into hiding, but I hope the same doesn’t happen for DaVincians. Did you like “The DaVinci Code”? That’s all that matters, not what some intellectuals have to say about it in hindsight. They just start to sweat when they realize no one really takes them seriously anyway. I just think it’s funny that Dan Brown is now fodder for writers who are so much more adept at the craft, and probably spent a good weekend absorbing his book.

I’ll bet when you were reading it you thought it was a great book too. I’ll bet you knocked it out in a few days. I’ll bet you recommended it to friends and proclaimed its entertainment value. Just like a young fanatic, you spread the good news, but don’t deny the book now. Don’t do as Peter did, under pressure. Hold firm as you did when you first believed! There’s going to be a DaVinci Diaspora, I can feel it, a great scattering. Soon you wont see the book deftly placed on coffee tables, or it’s title obligatorily planted on every Myspace profile. Is that the type of person you are? You’re going to turn with the wind? I command you: don’t do it!

Instead if I ask you if you’ve read the book say “Yeah!” loud and clear. Tell me you loved it, just like we’re back in 2003. Just like 40 million other people who wanted to tap into a good plot mixed with religious and historical speculation. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. But, happily, I’ll always be able to say I thought it sounded like crap from the beginning. I don’t want you guys watering down my right.

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