The headline to today's Los Angeles Times' "Regarding Media" column (Sat. May 20, 2006), penned by the perpetually clueless Tim Rutten, is "Media should stop and say, 'It's only a movie'." The movie he's talking about is the Da Vinci Code.
"It's only a movie"? Hmmm. Well, a couple of years ago when the Passion of the Christ film was about to hit the screen, Rutten struck a different tone with Mel Gibson's film, and Rutten's attitude was far from blasé.* Rutten authored no less than six fiery columns over a series of months that dealt almost exclusively with concerns over Gibson's Passion (here, here, here, here, here, here). (This does not include other articles in which he addressed the film within another topic.)
Rutten viewed The Passion more than "only a movie." In fact, in one August 2003 article, he compared Gibson to "a little brat" and "an unwholesomely willful child playing with matches." In addition, Rutten had no problem personally locating various religious leaders, college professors, and theologians to vent their distress about the film. Months before the film's release, Rutten quoted one professor as saying that Gibson's Passion "could be one of the great crises in Christian-Jewish relations." Yikes!
Two years later, a funny thing has happened. Rutten has been unable to locate critics of the Da Vinci Code in the same manner he found scolders of The Passion. In fact, Rutten makes the outrageous claim that detractors of the Da Vinci Code have been difficult to find! In today's column, he claims (bold mine),
The problem with the "Da Vinci Code" story as controversy is that the outraged side just refuses to play ball … The media, always mindful of the pathos to be wrung from a good auto-da-fé, have zealously circled the globe searching for outraged Catholics. So far, what they've got are a Nigerian cardinal in the Vatican curia, who grumbled that somebody, somewhere ought to take legal action, the urging of a boycott in China, a ban in Manila and a couple of Indian Catholics who threatened to set themselves on fire outside a theater when the film opens there. (They didn't; apparently, somebody reminded them that the church they're defending inconveniently forbids suicide.) (**)
Rutten underscores how he and the rest of the media are so woefully out of touch with such a large segment of American society. In fact, countless Catholics and Christians (right here in the United States, Tim!) have been screaming for weeks (even months!) about the slanderous film. There should have been no need for Tim and the rest of the media to "circle the globe."
If Rutten was looking for people to "play ball," he could have gone to the Catholic League, who have waged a months-long vocal campaign against the Code. He also could have tuned into Catholic media outlet EWTN, which devoted hours and hours of programming to address the film. Rutten probably does not have 99.5 FM KKLA on his radio preset; it's a well-known Christian station that's also a Los Angeles outlet for The Bible Answer Man, a popular nationwide radio broadcast. They recently spent several episodes on debunking the Code.
Believe me; there's plenty of outrage.
Also, had Rutten managed to break out of his shell, he would have found that practically an entire industry has erupted with books and DVDs solely dedicated to debunking the "facts" of The Da Vinci Code. For example:
The Da Vinci Hoax: Exposing the Errors in The Da Vinci Code by Carl Olson & Sandra Miesel
Breaking the Da Vinci Code: Answers to the Questions Everybody's Asking by Darrell L. Bock
Cracking Da Vinci's Code by James L. Garlow
The Da Vinci Code: Fact or Fiction? by Hank Hanegraaff and Paul Maier
Discussing the Da Vinci Code by Gary Poole and Lee Strobel
The Da Vinci Deception by Erwin W. Lutzer
The Da Vinci Deception by Dr. Ted Sri and Mark Shea
De-Coding Da Vinci by Amy Welborn
Gee. Do you think Rutten could have found a way to locate one of these people and get their opinion? He may have found the outrage that the rest of the media was unable to find!
* NewsBusters' Clay Waters found the same change in tone over at the New York Times.
** The story of Catholics in India threatening to set themselves on fire struck me as curious. I looked on Google, but I was simply unable to locate such a story. This was the closest I could find. If anyone finds the story to which Rutten is referring, maybe you could add the link to the comments section below? Thanks!