The local newspapers out here in Wisconsin are utter disappointments, a genuine disgrace to their profession. The Appleton paper, for example, has fallen way behind the rest of the media world by providing only 3 front page stories about the anti-Christian movie, The DaVinci Code – and only two of those were the focus story in full color, and one was just on the front page of the “Life” section of the paper, not page A1. Perhaps I missed a few additional stories inside the newspaper, but it’s clear we’re far behind the times.
On the plus side, our local media have done a good job of following other basic best practices for the US media, including giving The DaVinci Code far more positive publicity than The Passion of the Christ, depicting Dan Brown’s shoddy anti-Christian work as an interesting theory with merit, not suggesting that anti-Christian bigotry might be associated with the work, and not exposing the work for its ridiculous factual errors. One recent article focused on which was better, the book or the movie (answer: “both are worth your money”). Ah, now that’s journalism.
See “The Trashing of the Christ,” a summary of a report by the Media Research Center, to get a feel for how the TV networks have promoted Ron Brown’s work.
The report concludes that one reason for the commercial success of The DaVinci Code movie (as well as the book) was very aggressive salesmanship on the part of the network news divisions. “Network television news stars may boast at seminars that they are tough on everyone, but in real life, their devotion to secularism is almost religious in its intensity.”
Yeah, sometimes it kind of makes you wonder what possesses them.
Of course, I’m being too harsh. There are other journalistic priorities to consider, like the Green Bay Packers, reminding us that everything is going to be OK thanks to the new immigration bill, and getting the latest scoop on Hollywood celebrities. Perhaps we’ll get a full section devoted to the movie this weekend, so there’s still hope.
Update: Several people have expressed the notion that Dan Brown’s work is, after all, just fiction and nothing to worry about. One commenter didn’t see why I would call it anti-Christian. Here is my response:
I understand that the movie is so drenched in dull dialog, two-dimensional characters, and a ridiculous developments that reviewers simply could not find a way to lavish praise on Ron Howard’s work. But the negative reviews about the directing and acting don’t detract from the real thrust of the media efforts to give positive attention to Dan Brown’s work.
While the novel is fiction, Dan Brown and his supporters insist that it is carefully researched and based on historical fact. And while readers know it is fiction, many of them are being convinced that Jesus was an ordinary mortal, that Christianity is based on a lie, the paganism is a superior religious expression, and that Christian religion is inherently anti-female.
I know of at least one Latter-day Saint family that has been devastated by the impact of the anti-Christian agenda of The DaVinci Code. The LDS mother became convinced that the Church’s foundation in Jesus Christ was a foundation on a lie, and that the Church, like Christianity in general, was anti-woman. Great harm has been done.
Most of the opponents of Christianity believe that the Bible is fiction. But it is fiction they dread and oppose, for a book, fiction or not, can shape the hearts and minds of people. References to that alleged work of fiction are largely banned in our schools, and even silently reading that work of fiction in public has resulted in teachers being fired. The book is a threat to what they stand for.
How many of the anti-Christian vigilantes shrug their shoulders and say, “Well, it’s only fiction – why not let everybody read it and discuss it?” No, they recognize the power that a book can have. And while I despise the means they use, we should at least learn from them that books and movies can affect a culture.
Christians too often ignore the endless assaults on our faith and culture from the elite of our society. It’s time we recognize when we are being attacked and, in a civil and just manner, fight back.
Step one is to recognize that Dan Brown and his many supporters are deliberately pushing an anti-Christian agenda. The divinity of Christ and the foundation of Christianity is under assault. I think Latter-day Saints and all Christians need to understand that and be prepared to speak out against the offensive agenda of Dan Brown.