THE BLOG

What, Me Da Vinci?

04/07/2006 06:07 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

As someone who parodied Dan Brown's iconic giga-seller (in my less-than-iconic The BaLoney Code, not to be confused with "The Baloney Co-ed," an iconic porn title I hope I just invented), I am being hounded by countless (a distinction that includes zero) people for my opinion of Mr. Brown's successful defense of The Da Vinci Code against copyright infringement charges today.

I say it is a fine day for copyright, or something. I say that today in Britain freedom of speech (not a particularly British ideal) struck a blow against frivolous lawsuits, I guess. I say it is a good day to buy The BaLoney Code in celebration, clicking on the reddish-brown square down and to the right. And you can quote me on that.

I was at a book fair right after the suit was launched, and a couple people there asked me what I thought of the claims that Dan Brown had lifted the basic premise of his Required-reading Code from Holy Blood, Holy Grail. My answer: I'd darken my jeans giggling if it were true. A truly outstanding exposé in Salon at the end of 2004 ("The Da Vinci Crock," by Laura Miller, December 29, 2004 -- you might need to click through an ad to read it) convincingly debunked most of Holy Blood, Holy Grail's claims, piggybacking on Bart D. Ehrman's Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code. My fave quote from Miller:

"...as enormous crocks of nonsense go, "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" is a kind of masterpiece..."

I have to think your day would suck if you stole (sorry, "reworked") ostensibly factual stuff only to find out the supposedly millennium-old secret society at the very heart of your rejiggered story was, as Miller says, "the invention, in the 1950s, of a man ... who had a history of fraud, embezzlement and membership in ultra-conservative, quasi-mystical and virulently anti-Semitic Catholic groups." (I further have to think that such sucking would be cushioned effectively by some of the church-load of dollars you've been paid for the reworking gig.)

We have here a system of laziness working exactly as it's supposed to: somebody did the work (sloppily) to put a bunch of fake facts into the record; somebody else shaped those polluted facts (without examining them) into a compelling-if-goofy narrative; the narrative was embraced by people far too comfortable in their unexamined lives; thousands of people got killed and Bush sleeps soundly. A very similar thing happened with The Da Vinci Code.

So by all means go to the movie and marvel at Tom Hanks's newest hairjob. Read the book. Read the other book if you want. For sure read The BaLoney Code, if only because us non-celeb posters rarely get to go all shamelessly pluggy.

I only ask that you remember this: just because a real, irrationally misogynistic public society (which exists within an irrationally misogynistic church) doesn't actually use as its myth-enforcers members of a nonexistent thousand-year-old irrationally misogynistic secret society, that doesn't undercut the big reason people zombie-motioned toward The Da Vinci Code in the first place: the official story doesn't add up.