Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Eternal Feminine Is In Opie’s Hands

As the ads for Opie’s big screen adaptation of Dan Brown’s bewilderingly popular The Da Vinci Code become more conspicuous, I recently found myself feeling unmistakingly squirrelly (which is to say nuts) concerning my failure to read a book, no matter what its merits, over 30 million others already have. There’s an odd anxiety that comes with being unenlightened by something dominating the best-seller list for so long. Cathy, too, had read it back when we lived in Berkeley after a professor recommended it. “I couldn’t put it down,” he enthusiastically blurbed to her. So she bought the hardback at Cody’s for 30% off. And it seems like oodles of folks in my orbit have read it. Its ubiquity was/is disquieting. So I finally picked up our copy the other day and am currently half way through. It’s awful. Not such a surprise. But I’ll finish it because it asks so very little. (And seeing as how we are, as a country, decidedly estranged from books, especially books that ask for reflection, this may be the crux of its popularity.) I also keep wondering how Opie, competent Hollywood hack he is, will make it better. Well, for one, she’s in it. We’ll gladly pay $9 to watch Audrey on the big screen and sigh.

But really, what’s with this book? It’s all Chiclet chapters, warmed over Golden Bough (though all this talk of the sacred feminine makes me want to pull Camille Paglia’s swaggering Sexual Personae from the shelves and see how it holds up 16 years after it hypnotized me), hackneyed scenarios and gems of heelarious dialogue such as this:

(Note, if you haven’t read it, this excerpted scene joins our hero, the eminent Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, as he dishes on Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa with a group of inmates as part of one of those ever popular prison outreach programs.)

“…Because Da Vinci was a big fan of feminine principles, he made Mona Lisa look more majestic from the left than the right.”
“I heard he was a fag,” said a small man with a goatee .
Langdon winced. “Historians don’t generally put it quite that way, but yes, Da Vinci was a homosexual.”
“Is that why he was into that whole feminine thing?”
“Actually, Da Vinci was in tune with the balance between male and female. He believed that a human soul could not be enlightened unless it had both male and female elements.”
“You mean chicks with dicks?” someone called.”

Ha Ha! Whoa, Daddy! Here’s hoping Opie had the good sense to keep the script churning with dick jokes aplenty! In the very least, we’ll have that. I’ve heard that in the film this scene ends with Langdon, played by Tom Hanks, and the inmates kicking back with some spud juice and tossing the old salad. Just squeaked by with that PG-13.

I’ll let you know when I’m done.

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