An Odd Cousin Once Removed
In the whole scope of things, did all the hype and hand-wringing over The Da Vinci Code book and movie really accomplish anything? It may seem to many that Dan Brown's 15 minutes of fame passed by and now we're on to other things - school's starting, football season is kicking off and we're all talking about how well Katie Couric will do in the anchor chair at CBS. The same celebrity tabloids that gave the film front page coverage are now highlighting Hilton's recent arrest. Doesn't that put it all in perspective?
Well, yes and no. Yes it is true that the general public seems to treat real culture the same way they now treat television commercials- they'd rather just TIVO right through it. Whatever the latest celeb is doing is the hot ticket - something to gossip about and forget tomorrow. But we're also talking about a book that sold some 60 million copies. Do you think that made a difference in anyone's perspective?
When reviewing the history of any culture, one can see that there are certain points at which popular entertainment has had a lasting impact. Some of these caused major changes - such as the Beatles - and some less so, but the influence can be profound. For example, people will disparage the ideals of a traditional family life by saying "this isn't the Brady Bunch." With one verbal sleight of hand, they've equated the idea of a traditional nuclear family with a farce.
In saying all this, I'm interested to see how the second interpretation of Dan Brown's theories will impact the culture. We're already beginning to see the influence in artists and others "finding inspiration" in Brown's book. A local newspaper in Kansas reports that artist Byron Smith has recently unveiled his exhibition of paintings inspired by The Da Vinci Code. One painting in particular is causing quite an uproar. It's of Jesus and -who are both completely nude. And this is Kansas!
Now, the point in all of this is that these works, although inspired by Brown's book, do not carry any type of label that says one should view them that way. We have a new point of influence on people that's one step removed from the "it's just fiction" clause. You see, fiction or not, these ideas seep into the shaping of the next step in our cultural development. They color the way we look at the world. And if we start with wrong ideas, then we really are looking at the world through wrong-colored glasses.