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Via Media

Could it be an “0?”

A hint from the USCCB…

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops will probably give the film an O for "offensive" rating, said spokesman Monsignor Francis Maniscalco.

"There was so much misinformation in the novel – if that is repeated in the movie we would need to do something to advise people about its inaccuracies," Monsignor Maniscalco said.

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Anonymous Teacher Person

posted January 7, 2006 at 9:34 pm

I know it’s been mentioned before, but I find the fact that Chirac tried to get his friend’s daughter cast in this production beyond satire.

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posted January 7, 2006 at 9:47 pm

That *should* be a pretty obvious “O” rating, but my trust in the USCCB’s movie reviews has plummeted in recent weeks…

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St. Jimbob of the Apokalypse

posted January 7, 2006 at 10:24 pm

Well, if the lead characters we gay lovers, then at least the review will be more sympathetic despite the rating (a la ‘Brokeback Mountain’ review by USCCB). Most times, I can tell from the trailers on TV that a movie is trash, and also by who gushes most about it.
I’ll have to admit, I haven’t read the book to begin with. I’m very particular in how I choose to waste my time. Re-read ‘Chronicles of Narnia’, still slogging through ‘the Cost of Discipleship’ by Bonhoeffer, and reading the Qur’an in small, less fatal, doses. Reading the Qur’an is as much as I’m willing to give to gnostic retreads.

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posted January 7, 2006 at 11:16 pm

I saw the trailer over the holidays. At first I thought it was gonna be some interesting religious movie, and then I realized it was a trailer for TDC. I just rolled my eyes.

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Jason Cone

posted January 7, 2006 at 11:45 pm

I think I might join Opus Dei so that I could drop that little bomb around the water cooler and watch the jaws drop.
“That Opus Dei assassin sure is creepy…”
“I’m a member of Opus Dei, but they haven’t issued me my hooded cloak and cat-o-nine-tails, yet.”

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Robert King, OP

posted January 8, 2006 at 2:12 am

Funny, I thought “Morally Offensive” would not necessarily touch historical inaccuracy or stylistic incompetence; but I’m increasingly dissatisfied with both the rating system itself and the USCCB’s use of it. After all, in terms of moral acts, I don’t remember The Code being any worse than a James Bond flick.
Now, it could be argued that doctrinal inaccuracy (or incompetence) is a moral act worthy of condemnation; but it seems to me that this would require a distinct rating: F for False, or I for inaccurate, or something.
Meanwhile, a film like “Aeon Flux” gets an O for largely bloodless violence and a single tame sex scene in a movie that may mark MTV’s unwilling or unwitting acknowledgement of the value of marriage, motherhood, and family and of the evils of cloning. Or do they give it an O because it’s cheap sci-fi with slumming actors and none of the mainstream critics liked it either? Not that I’m defending “Aeon Flux” as art; far from! But, if morality is the standard of judgment, it’s hardly a chief offender.
And neither is morality the chief offence of TDaVC. Nor is giving the film a “strong” rating a proper answer to it. That will most likely open the Church up to further accusations of knee-jerk reactionism. Instead, I think what’s needed is a balance of serious education about, and gentle (or not-so-gentle) mockery of, its foolishness.

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posted January 8, 2006 at 7:00 am

Uh, given the current way movies are reviewed by the USCCB, how is factual accuracy a criteria for the moral assessment of a purported piece of (very tricky) fiction?
This sounds like a set up for promoting the movie, in the end. I can see the “banned by USCCB” trailers now.

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posted January 8, 2006 at 10:52 am

My 16yr old son was given the book as a birthday pressie last year. He found it dreary- but it peeked his interest enough that he aksed me to buy him the The Way by Jose Maria Escriva -a book he loves.
Poor Dan Brown, I thought, he’s shot himself in the foot a bit.

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posted January 8, 2006 at 1:13 pm

But the dear Msgr. doesn’t write the reviews for the USCCB. So is he going to tell the reviewers what to write, or rate?
Besides, if it were up to a certain Archbishop Amy blogged about a while back, the USCCB wouldn’t have an issue with da Vinci at all.
A co-worker of mine that I’ve been training this past week seems to have read the book. He doesn’t seem particularly religious, but he does know it’s a bunch of bunk and pokes fun at people who believe the fiction is based on truth.

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James Kabala

posted January 8, 2006 at 1:36 pm

Well, Fr. King, blasphemy and slander are as immoral as sex scenes.
The rating system does seem somewhat erratic, however. A few years ago they gave an “O” to the Julia Roberts vehicle “Mona Lisa Smile” becuase it condoned the use of birth control and devalued women who chose motherhood over career. I thought this was a pretty gutsy move and an example of the rating system serving a useful function, since this was definitely a case of a movie whose offensiveness would not be readily apparent from the trailers. But still, could “Mona Lisa Smile” possibly have been more offensive than “Brokeback Mountain”? What is the “tipping point” that pushes something from L to O? Is it just the whim of the reviewer, and maybe “Mona Lisa Smile” drew a stern reviewer and “Brokeback Mountain” a lenient one?

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posted January 8, 2006 at 3:05 pm

I am glad to hear your son loves The Way–what an awesome book.
I am a cooperator with Opus Dei and I have never met a bunch of women who were more fun, down to earth, and holy. Hopefully the public will get more exposure to the wonderful people within Opus Dei in spite of this movie.

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posted January 8, 2006 at 6:05 pm

I’ve spent a lot of time around the Opus Dei folks and have gone to a lot of their functions, recollections, retreats, etc. They do treat this kind of slander with a great Catholic blend of humor, prayer and sacrifice. I heard a numerary say of the book, “Oh, great, that’s all we need” and others say things like “We gotta pray more, offer more up!”
From what I know of the story, which I would never read, the villains are cartoonish caricatures of clergy who resemble fundamentalist militia-men more than Catholic priests. The idea that the church which was built on the blood of the martyrs had suppressed the real truth about Jesus for 2000 years, although diabolically evil, is also paradoxically comical to my sarcastic Gen-X’er mind.

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stephen joseph

posted January 9, 2006 at 5:57 am

After the book came out, my in-laws anxiously asked me if I was a member of “secret society.” I looked at them and said, “I could tell you. But then I’d have to kill you.” The look on their faces was priceless! (I got this question because we attend Mass at St. Mary of the Angels in Chicago, which is a parish run by priests of Opus Dei.)

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Jon W

posted January 9, 2006 at 9:35 am

I know nothing about and nobody in Opus Dei, but The Way rocks.

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c matt

posted January 9, 2006 at 10:31 am

I’m sure the producers and backers of TDC couldn’t ask for anything more helpful from a marketing perspective than an “O” rating from the USCCB. If I were them, I would put that rating front and center of all advertising.
I do find it rather ironic to label a movie presented as fiction “O” because it is historically inaccurate. I like the idea mentioned above of “I” or “F” much better.

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posted January 9, 2006 at 11:04 am

I find this distinction between historical accuracy and moral offensiveness strange. Yes, not everything that is historically inaccurate is necessarily morally offensive, but it can be. I would say that that is especially the case when the intention of the falsehoods are slander and blasphemy, as James already pointed out. Leading people to believe that members of Opus Dei resemble albino monks and that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were lovers is just plain inaccurate. Leading people to believe that members of Opus Dei are trained assasins who kill people at the bidding of the Vatican in order prevent the discovery that Christianity is a lie is, however, offensive. The one does not exclude the other.

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c matt

posted January 9, 2006 at 4:04 pm

That is a more than fair point, Ronny. But I still can’t dispell the notion that an “O” rating will do more to encourage rather than discourage the very type of viewer it seeks to discourage (that is, the theologically/historically ignorant). Tough decision as to what is the proper way of addressing TDC.

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posted January 9, 2006 at 4:59 pm

An O for blasphemy makes more sense than a O for factual inaccuracy for a piece of fiction. But I agree that it will only enhance the marketing of the film. Better not to review it at all.

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posted January 10, 2006 at 2:37 pm

I’m sure the producers and backers of TDC couldn’t ask for anything more helpful from a marketing perspective than an “O” rating from the USCCB. If I were them, I would put that rating front and center of all advertising.
I’m not sure the producers, backers, marketers or general public (including a high percentage of Catholics) would be able to tell you what the heck USCCB stood for. Sure, you could spell it out but then they’d have to know and care what an “O” rating from the USCCB meant. I don’t think the USCCB and it’s rating system even make it on the radar with most people, Catholic or not.

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