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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Da Vinci: Veni, Vidi, Vici

A good history of the decline of the Catholic church's influence in Hollywood in today's Washington Post:
For decades American Catholics exerted the moral equivalent of final cut over Hollywood cinema. Galvanized by the church hierarchy, they managed not just to control but to convert the motion picture industry.

[snip]

With box offices hemorrhaging in the Catholic strongholds in big cities, Will H. Hays, Presbyterian Church elder and president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA), turned to a Victorian Irishman named Joseph I. Breen to negotiate surrender terms with the Catholics. Hays told Breen that "the Catholic authorities can have anything they want."

What the Catholics wanted, and got, was a censorship regime that ceded dominion of Hollywood cinema to Catholic theology for the next 30 years. On July 15, 1934, Breen set up shop at the Production Code Administration, an in-house arm of the studio system that vetted film scripts for Code violations prior to production. Thus, before the cameras ever rolled, the fix would be in. The visible mark of quality control would be a quite literal Production Code Seal of Approval, an oval logo encircling the MPPDA initials, printed on the credits of every Code-worthy film.

Between the Legion of Decency on the outside and the Breen Office on the inside, Roman Catholics made certain that Hollywood defended the faith. Of course, sin could not be exiled from the screen, but the transgression always had to be offset by what Breen called "morally compensating value" -- usually in the form of a just and certain punishment, or a voice of morality reminding audiences that crime does not pay.

Writer Thomas Doherty shows how much things have changed since those days:
When the Catholic hierarchy lost the power to energize millions of parishioners for some real Catholic action, when American Catholics responded to calls to boycott Hollywood blockbusters with approximately the same obedient deference they accorded the Vatican's advice on birth control, then Catholic dominion over Hollywood lapsed. And today the only Code that Hollywood adheres to is the kind authored by Dan Brown.
On that note, The Da Vinci Code seems to be pretty much review proof (as I thought it would be), grossing over $30 million dollars on Friday alone, with a projected weekend gross of $80-85 million. Let the gnashing of conservative teeth begin!

Blogger fmragtops said...

The gnashing of conservative teeth? Have you been awake so long that you have absolutely lost your mind? Maybe suffering from sleep deprivation induced psychosis?

Which conservatives are gonna be gnashing their teesth? The only idiots I heard wailing about this were catholic clergy.

Most of the conservatives I know thought the whole catholic boycott thing was silly. If a movie can shake someone's faith, they must not have been very faithful to begin with. Besides, does Jesus being married and fathering a child change a religion? Of course not. This was a belief of the Nostic Christians. Were they any less christians?

I don't get all this whining over this movie. The movie Stigmata was more of an affront to the modern Catholic Church, but I don't remember catholics getting their panties in a twist over that one.

My point is this: Who cares? Who cares what some movie says, and who cares if catholics get all bent over the movie? This whole debate is a lot like reality TV to me. It's a crock of crap that has been given way too much media coverage.

17:21  
Blogger The Cranky Insomniac said...

Hey, I agree with you. But there's been a lot of Da Vinci bashing at conservative sites like The Corner, and there seemed to be a lot of glee among a bunch of conservative bloggers when the film got bad reviews.

I only care because I'm really interested in the study of religion, and because I have a particular fascination with Gnosticism.

As for whether the Gnostics were any less Christian, obviously they didn't think so, but the Catholic Church sure did. The Office of the Inquisition was first formed during the Albigensian Crusade, which pretty much wiped out the Cathars, who were the last real Gnostic threat to the Church.

(You should care too, since the Inquisitors may well have used impaling as one of their methods of torture.)

Other than that, you sound a little, dare I say, cranky?

17:50  
Anonymous fmragtops said...

I was mostly picking about the psychosis thing, but this crap does make me cranky. Sorry for misspelling Gnostic. Look, I gots no love for the Catholic church. In my opinion they've perverted many of the Bible's teachings. Though they made glorious strides in the art of impaling.

It makes me cranky to hear that conservatives are caught up in all this hooplah. It makes me ashamed of them, and if I could, I'd excommunicate them from conservatism for being sissies. I'd venture that anyone calling themselves conservative and whining about this movie, isn't very conservative.

19:18  
Blogger patrick said...

"there seemed to be a lot of glee among a bunch of conservative bloggers when the film got bad reviews."

Yes, put me in that camp of people glad it got bad reviews and hoping it doesnt do well. Since its subtext is both a blasphemy and a smear job on the Catholic church, I'd rather fewer people see it.

As for it not being harmful, what if they did a hit job on say a President (oops, "Nixon" and "JFK" smeared Nixon and LBJ)? if a file glorifying Palestinian terrorists? (wait they did "Munich")
Or one bashing our Govt as cyncial and corrupt? (Syriana and 100 movies besides)...

my point being that is both (a) par for the course in Hollywood and (b) offensive.

So, the Passion of the Christ is a hit and Some idiot Hollywood producer says 'lets do a Christian movie' and they come up with this junk... maybe it's the same idiot who thought Ollie Stone was the right guy to tell the 9/11 story.

It's a conspiracy to keep Americans poor and stupid, is all.

Another thought - WOULD HOLLYWOOD DARE MAKE MOVIES THAT BLASPHEMED MOHAMMED AND DISSED THE ARAB COUNTRIES THE WAY THEY MAKE MOVIES THAT BLASPHEME CHRISTIANITY AND DISS OUR OWN GOVERNMENT?

"Besides, does Jesus being married and fathering a child change a religion? Of course not. This was a belief of the Nostic Christians. Were they any less christians?"

Yikes, this idiocy is why people ARE concerned about a mis-informed fiction like Da Vinci code getting watched by people. It's nonsense! We have people who are woefully ignorant of our Christian heritage and don't understand Christian beliefs!

A) That was NOT the belief of gnostic (not "Nostic") Christians, and if Dan Brown said it, it is another piece of ignorance he is spreading among many others.
All Christians inlcuding Gnostic
B) You cannot be a Christian if you think Jesus didn't die and rose and is the Son of God, part of the trinity.
The Cross and the Resurrection is what defines Christianity and has since the time when St Peter and St Paul were evangelizing. To get the brief on what Christian's believe, read the Nicine Creed or the Apostle's Creed.

20:47  
Blogger fmragtops said...

Oh, Cranky sir, do I have your permission to flame this deuche on your blog, or would you prefer I used mine? Or would you prefer to flame this deuche first before I do since he posted this on your blog?

21:19  
Blogger The Cranky Insomniac said...

Do whatcha like...

I will say this, though: Gnosticism preceded the Nicene (not "Nicine," as long as we're correcting spelling) Creed, and Gnostics absolutely believed that they were the true followers of Jesus.

I'm not taking a side here, just pointing out a bit of history. Most Gnostics did believe that Jesus died on the cross, although rather than being resurrected, they would be more likely to believe that his spirit was separated from his material being, and that others could do this if they possessed enough wisdom, or "gnosis." This is obviously incompatible with Christianity as we know it.

Also, saying that "Some idiot Hollywood producer says 'lets do a Christian movie' and they come up with this junk.." is not quite how the film came to be. I'm pretty sure the tens of millions of copies the book sold had a little something to do with it. And whatever you think about Hollywood - and I'm no defender of it - it's a bit over the top to suggest that DVC is part of a "conspiracy to keep people poor and stupid." It's been my experience that a fair number of people are pretty good at doing that all by themselves.

Now if you'll excuse me, the NASCAR All Star race is about to begin.

21:43  
Anonymous fmragtops said...

Okay Patrick, are you ready? Here goes:

"Yes, put me in that camp of people glad it got bad reviews and hoping it doesnt do well. Since its subtext is both a blasphemy and a smear job on the Catholic church, I'd rather fewer people see it."

It's fiction, slappy! Get over it. Like Cranky said. This movie was review proof. Why didn't you protest the book? Why didn't you go chain yourself to the movie set while it was being made? It's blasphemy? If you ask me, the pratice of confessing your sins to a man is blasphemy. It's blasphemy for clergy to be considered "holier" than the average christian.

"As for it not being harmful, what if they did a hit job on say a President (oops, "Nixon" and "JFK" smeared Nixon and LBJ)? if a file glorifying Palestinian terrorists? (wait they did "Munich")
Or one bashing our Govt as cyncial and corrupt? (Syriana and 100 movies besides)...

my point being that is both (a) par for the course in Hollywood and (b) offensive."

Of course it's par for the course. Hollywood churns out tons of blasphemous and offensive movies. So what? Don't go watch it. I won't. At least not until it comes out on cable.

"It's a conspiracy to keep Americans poor and stupid, is all."

No, public education is a conspiracy to keep americans poor and stupid. This is a movie.

"Another thought - WOULD HOLLYWOOD DARE MAKE MOVIES THAT BLASPHEMED MOHAMMED AND DISSED THE ARAB COUNTRIES THE WAY THEY MAKE MOVIES THAT BLASPHEME CHRISTIANITY AND DISS OUR OWN GOVERNMENT?"

Of course not. They are hypocritical elitist cowards. And everyone knows it.

"Yikes, this idiocy is why people ARE concerned about a mis-informed fiction like Da Vinci code getting watched by people. It's nonsense! We have people who are woefully ignorant of our Christian heritage and don't understand Christian beliefs!"

And you are just the person to righteously re-educate us poor uninformed, unwashed, proletariat masses. Let me know when you pick up on the common theme, Chairman Mao.

"A) That was NOT the belief of gnostic (not "Nostic") Christians, and if Dan Brown said it, it is another piece of ignorance he is spreading among many others.
All Christians inlcuding Gnostic"

Really? It wasn't a belief of the N*$t!( Christians? Hmmm, funny how the Gnostic Gospel of Phillip said:

". . . the companion of the [Savior is] Mary Magdalene. [But Christ loved] her more than [all] the disciples, and used to kiss her [often] on her [mouth]. The rest of [the disciples were offended] . . . They said to him, "Why do you love her more than all of us?" The Savior answered and said to them, "Why do I not love you as (I love) her?"

It's entirely possible that the Gnostics didn't believe this, but some scholars believe this passage to point to a belief among the Gnostics that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were more than friends. It's not like we know exactly what was going on back then. We do know that the gnostic gospels were left out of the Bible. I imagine other than that, everything is open to debate. Of course, I don't want to suck up Cranky's blog going into a dissertation on religion.

Back to patrick:

"B) You cannot be a Christian if you think Jesus didn't die and rose and is the Son of God, part of the trinity.
The Cross and the Resurrection is what defines Christianity and has since the time when St Peter and St Paul were evangelizing. To get the brief on what Christian's believe, read the Nicine Creed or the Apostle's Creed."

Who said he didn't? Who said he wasn't? All I said is that him being married and having a child doesn't change anything. You know why I make that "heretical" statement? Because he could be married and have children and still be free from sin, and still be crucified and resurrected. God had a son with a woman, that doesn't make him any less of a God.

Let me drop the essence of Christianity on you, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever shall believeth in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Now you tell me how Jesus, peace be upon him, being married changes John 3:16. You can't because it doesn't.

The bottom line is this: If you want to spread the Word, then spread the Word, but to tell other people what they should or shouldn't watch is stupid. Where were you when Dogma came out? That was far more blasphemous than this. Quit being a religion snob. That's a commie, or theocratic tactic, not a conservative one.

Besides, if marriage is such a sacred bond that we shouldn't redefine, which I believe it is btw, how can you say it's so horrible that Jesus might have been married?

I don't have a problem with people pointing out inaccuracies in movies. I do have a problem with people telling me what I should and shouldn't watch, or what's "good" for me in their opinion. It's my opinion that anything that challenges my beliefs makes my beliefs stronger.

Sorry Cranky.

22:36  
Blogger The Cranky Insomniac said...

No need to apologize to me.

Patrick, I hope you'll respond. This is what comment sections are for, as far as I'm concerned.

Have at it, boys!

22:53  
Anonymous FIAR said...

Yikes! Run for your life! A work of fiction will destroy all of western civilization! Run away! Run away!

Patrick. You're a collosal idiot.

01:12  
Anonymous FIAR said...

FICTION - Look it up.

01:12  
Anonymous fmragtops said...

A couple of follow up points,

1.) Syrania wouldn't make me any less patriotic.

2.) JFK didn't change my opinion of LBJ

3.) I didn't see Nixon, but I love the line from the previews, "I'm the president! And the president can bomb anybody he likes!"

01:25  
Blogger The Cranky Insomniac said...

1. I actually really liked Syriana, as silly as it was.

2. JFK is one of my all-time favorite films, as silly as it was.

3. Nixon was pretty good, too.

I guess the bottom line is that I don't have any problem distinguishing fiction from reality. My mental illnesses are of a different sort.

01:40  
Anonymous Seven Star Hand said...

Hello Cranky and all,
Here's a real hot potato! Eat it up, digest it, and then feed it's bones to the hungry...

Pay close attention, profundity knocks at the door, listen for the key. Be Aware! Scoffing causes blindness...

Here is the key to understanding what the Vatican and Papacy truly fear...

There's much more to the story of the Vatican's recent machinations than meets the eye. It's not the DaVinci Code or Gospel of Judas per se, but the fact that people have now been motivated to seek out the unequivocal truth about an age of deception, exactly when they expect me to appear. These recent controversies are spurring people to reevaluate the Vatican/Papacy and the religions that Rome spawned, at the worst possible time for them.

Remember, "I come as a thief..." ?

The DaVinci Code novel and movie are no more inaccurate as literal versions of history than the New Testament. The primary sub-plot involved purposeful symbology being used to encode hidden meanings, exactly like the Bible and related texts. In other words, none of these stories represent the literal truth. This is the common and pivotal fact of all such narratives about ancient Hebrew and Christian history. Debating whether the DaVinci Code, Gnostic texts, or the Bible are accurate history is a purposeful ploy designed to hide the truth by directing your inquiry away from the heart of the matter.

There is a foolproof way to verify the truth and expose centuries-old religious deceptions. It also proves why we can no longer let the Vatican tell us what to think about ancient history or much else. It is the common thread connecting why the ancient Hebrews, Yahad/Essene, Jews, Gnostics, Cathars, Templars, Dead Sea Scrolls, DaVinci Code, and others have been targets of Rome’s ire and evil machinations. The Vatican and its secret society cohorts don’t want you to understand that the ancient Hebrew symbology in all of these texts purposely encodes and exposes the truth about them. Furthermore, the structure of ancient wisdom symbology verifiably encodes the rules to decode messages built with it. This is what they most fear you will discover.

If the Bible represented the literal truth or even accurate history, there would be no need for faith in the assertions of deceptive and duplicitous clergy and their ilk. It is undeniable the New Testament is awash with ancient Hebrew symbolism and allegory. The same is evidenced in the Old Testament, Dead Sea Scrolls, Gnostic texts, biblical apocrypha, Quran, DaVinci Code, and other related sources. All ancient religious, mystical, and wisdom texts have been shrouded in mystery for millennia for one primary reason: The ability to understand their widely evidenced symbology was lost in antiquity. How do we finally solve these ages-old mysteries? To recast an often-used political adage: It’s [the] symbology, stupid!

It is beyond amazing that the Vatican still tries to insist the Gospels are the literal truth. Every miracle purported for Jesus has multiple direct symbolic parallels in the Old Testament, Apocalypse, Dead Sea Scrolls, and other symbolic narratives and traditions. Recasting the symbolism of earlier Hebrew texts as literal events in the New Testament is one of the central deceptions associated with Christianity. This is part of the secret knowledge held by the ancient Gnostics, Templars, Cathars, and others, which is presented with dramatic effect in the DaVinci Code. None of these narratives or stories were ever intended as the literal truth. This fact is the key to unraveling many ages-old mysteries and exposing the truth about the Vatican's long-term deceptions.

Moreover, the following Washington Post article (The Book of Bart) describes how many changes and embellishments were made to New Testament texts over the centuries, unequivocally demonstrating they are not original, infallible, or truthful. When you combine proof that the New Testament Gospels are not wholly literal with proof that these texts were heavily reworked in the early years of Christianity, you are left with only one possible conclusion. The Vatican has long lied to everyone about the central tenets and history of Christianity. This revelation also proves they are not the Creator’s representatives but Her longtime opponents. The recent hoopla over the Gospel of Judas and DaVinci Code demonstrates they are still desperately trying to deceive the world and obfuscate their true nature and activities.

It's no wonder the Vatican fears the truth more than anything else. As further proof of these assertions, seek to understand the symbolic significance of my name (Seven Star Hand) and you will have proof beyond disproof that Jews, Christians, and Muslims have long been duped by the great deceivers I warned humanity about over the millennia. What then is the purpose of "faith" but to keep good people from seeking to understand the truth?

Now comes justice, hot on its heels... (symbolism...)

Revelations from the Apocalypse

19:50  

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