Attack of Da Cannes tomatoes

killertomatoesAs regular GetReligion readers know, we don’t pay much attention to editorials and reviews, unless they touch on topics that are so newsworthy that we simply have to talk about them. You could make a case that the current flood of negative reviews of The Da Vinci Code movie would fall into this category.

But there are just too many of them. If you want to tap into that, you can head over to Rotten Tomatoes and eat your fill.

So what about the news itself?

Well, the DVC news coverage is also so heavy that I am having trouble trying to read even a 10th of it. Then again, that is why God made Ted Olsen, over at Christianity Today‘s blog. Click here if you want access to his usual blitz of URLs to reviews, news, strange press releases and who knows what all. And Olsen offers this interesting thought for reporters working this story:

What Weblog doesn’t quite understand is the use of the term boycott in talking about one particular movie. Is saying “don’t see this movie” or “this movie stinks” the same as calling for a boycott? If so, then why are critics described as “panning” the film but pastors and bishops are “calling for a boycott”? And is choosing not to see a film the same as taking part in a boycott? Because I’m not reading a lot about the big R.V. and Just My Luck boycotts. And if it’s a boycott to refuse to see a film, what do you call Sony’s refusal to let people who want to see the film (namely film critics who aren’t in Cannes) do so?

Meanwhile, if you want to know why there are so many stories about about this movie gracing prime slots on the front pages of major newspapers, click here to see the “Well, Da Duh!” story of the day — a newsy report by Godbeat veteran Tom Mullen, writing for Editor & Publisher‘s website. It does seem that more secular editors want to “get” religion news when it involves Hollywood, the Vatican, heresy, alleged feminism, multimedia evangelism, screwed-up history, a kinky albino monk (repeat after me: Opus Dei does not even have monks), goddess worship and a splash of edited-out sacred sex.

You think? Thus, Mullen writes:

Newspapers don’t always do a good job of covering religion. You don’t have [to] look too far for critics in and outside the newsroom whom [you] can fault about how the whole realm of belief is covered. And it’s interesting to note how a Hollywood movie has again become a huge religion story that’s inspiring so much copy. Where is all the religion coverage on matters a little closer to home, a little closer to readers’ everyday lives? That’s still a topic for discussion at length, but for now, it’s worth noting what many papers did well over the last week or so before “Da Vinci” opened.

Read it all. And let us know if you see stories that do a good job of dealing with the facts of this story, as well as the hot opinions on both sides.

One thing is clear: Everyone needs to read the latest opus from the amazingly literate and fair-minded Peter J. Boyer of The New Yorker. If you have not read his “Hollywood Heresy: Marketing ‘The Da Vinci Code’ to Christians,” then what are you waiting for? It gets five stars (out of five).

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • BL

    Early reviews pan the movie. Definitely an interesting development.
    I’ve even seen reviews that say the movie is as bad as the book. I’ve heard people say the book was a thrilling page-turner and others say the book was boring and they couldn’t get through it.
    I wonder what the early reviews of the book were like before it sold millions upon millions of copies.

    I also remember that critics panned the Dukes of Hazzard and it was tops at the Box Office so we’ll soon see what the critics know.

  • bl

    A writer at the Washington Post panned both the movie and the book in one review: “But most filmgoers probably know all this, because most of them have probably read “The Da Vinci Code,” a starchily written potboiler that despite its graceless prose and turgid expository digressions has sold more than 40 million copies”

    Hmm. Critics pan book and movie. Wonder what will happen at the box office?

  • Scott Allen

    TMATT, thanks for the link to the New Yorker article. Discusses all sorts of aspects to the film in an engaging, informative manner.
    The one fault I had was an assumption that “Craig Detweiler, a professor of mass communications at Biola University, an evangelical college near Los Angeles” is a Christian. This was implied by the immediately preceding quote about “useful Christian idiots.” A faculty member at a nominally christian college is not necessarily a Christian.

    Whether Detweiler is a Christian or not, I am inclinded to think he is an idiot. The question attributed to him: “How can forty million readers be wrong?” may be an amusing play on old TV commercials for Elvis LPs but we all know that large numbers of people can be very, very wrong and can read/watch/consume all sorts of tripe. The only way consumers can always be “right” is in the fact that they enjoy the consumption, but they can certainly be consuming “wrong” content. Detweiler may make that same point, but since it is a tautology (the customer is always right, essentially saying “I enjoy what I enjoy”) it is not useful except to note that what is popular is…popular.

  • Charles

    Boycott? The bloody Opus Dei spokeswoman is going to see the film as a bloody mortification, for Pete’s sake.

    A bloody mortification.. I kill myself.

    Anyway, I’m Catholic too – though not an albino numerary monk, tant pis – and I’m definitely going to see this silly movie. Just like I read the lame book. I borrowed the book from my sister in law (whose excuse is that she’s a turk & doesn’t know any better) and I’m going to buy a ticket to RV, and instead go see the Duh Vinci Code.

    I’m enjoying this all too much to miss it.

  • James Davis

    Has anyone else noticed how the screenplay softened the accusatory tone against Christendom? When Teabing says Constantine hijacked Christianity at Nicea, Langdon give him a spirited argument. That’s not in the book.

    Also, near the end of the film, Langdon asks (paraphrasing), “Do we have to choose between Christ’s humanity and his divinity? Maybe to be human is to be divine.” I don’t believe that was in the book either. Ironically, that comes close to the Nicene Creed, which said Christ was both divine and human. One of many internal contradictions in the movie.

  • Michel

    Assuming James Davis’s paraphrase is accurate, no it doesn’t come anywhere near close to what the Nicene Creed says. The creed says Jesus and only Jesus was fully human and fully divine. To say that “to be human is to be divine” would imply that every human has this quality, something the gathering at nice was very eager to to say or even vaguely imply.

  • Michel

    oops, I meant something the gathering at Nice was very eager NOT to say.


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