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Friday, May 19, 2006

THE LINE FORMS AT THE LOUVRE 

The conventional wisdom is that The DaVinci Code will pocket upwards of $100,000,000 in the US over the weekend and double that across the globe. I'm not sure if Burger King or McDonalds has a kiddie's meal with a DaVinci decoder ring, but tonsures and monk's shrouds as the next 'big thing' in fashion can't be far behind. No matter what, Dan Brown, Ron Howard and the increasingly annoying Tom Hanks will undoubtably be toasting one another and Mencken's observation that 'no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public", or any public for that matter.

You've got to give America credit, it has done a marvelous job of exporting codswallop to the rest of the word and skillfully tapped into the lowest common denominator on all continents. "Crap is king", sang ex-Eagle Don Henley, and the mass market is its loyal and devoted subjects.

It's simply hard to maintain a straight face when radical Islam and its fanatical theocrats are juxtaposed against the Vatican and other western Christian sects currently having a coniption fit over a piece of pulpy fiction based in historical hogwash. OK, so Benedict hasn't issued a fatwah on Brown's head, but the emotionalism and rancor over this tale (loosely enough tied to historical datum to spark the interest of folks familiar with the names Jesus, Mary and perhaps expecting the ancestoral linage of one Mr. DiCaprio to come into play) closely parallels the mullah hysteria over Salman Ruchdie's "Satanic Verses"- sans $25,000,000 bounty. ( TSV was of course, a far superior piece of literature so no one actually read it; thus, no economic rationale for a motion picture featuring Ben Kingsley, Salma Hayek, somebody named Singh and an assortment of character actors of portraying the kind of sub-continent swarthiness Hollywood manufactures by the film mile).

In the US, the very same folks who hold tight to the White House spun fantasy Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 will line up around the block to have their faith in a safe detachment from reality reinforced through that most sacred of American rituals, a major motion picture. They will leave the theatre feeling sanctified, their belief in the power of prevarication validated and march gladly into the next week willing and ready to absorb the next mendacity designed to separate then from their money, their freedom and the need to think.

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