Sony’s cagey, counterintuitive stroke

How’s this for clever? Knowing that its upcoming film The Da Vinci Code is going to be started with criticism for the bizarre historical distortions in Dan Brown’s book, Sony has made a brilliant counterintuitive move by handing its critics a megaphone.

The New York Times has the story of Sony’s plan to launch a Web site at which scores of evangelical leaders will weigh in with their criticisms.

Sony deserves credit for bringing the film’s critics under its own roof to state their cases. The move seems likely to defuse more strident forms of protest. But one thing worries me abut the way the Da Vinci business is playing out. If conforms to the usual secular Hollywood liberals v. conservative evangelicals, when that shouldn’t be the case.

Sure The Da Vince Code is going to upset some people, but that’s no crime. The real outrage is that the Code treats solid historical and Scriptural scholarship the way Oliver Stone treated the facts of the Kennedy assassination in making JFK. Film makers don’t have an obligation to avoid giving offense; there is no way to handle controversial material without doing that. But they do have an obligation not to perpetuate fraud, and Brown’s attempts to pass his story off as informed by fact is fraudulent.

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