May 29, 2005

Dan Brown And The Art Of Guerilla Marketing!

I read the “code” because of church-going friends who recommended it to me with a sly wink. Strangely, I was disappointed with the book and a few other novels by Dan Brown. Strange because I am a religion-basher and like nothing better than to read/talk about the atrocities committed by religions through history. So even though the books were fairly stupid (both in terms of suspense and storyline) I should have still liked them for the religion bashing it had. But I figured out the true intentions of the guy!

Dan Brown always portrays situations in this way. Catholic church was bad in the past (preferably a few centuries ago!) and hounded a few small groups of artists and other such intellectuals. But, today the church is pretty decent. I mean I don’t find too many villains associated with present day catholic church in his books. Even if there are a few current church-villains, they are demented souls usually acting for themselves and not for the church. Even these few church-villains usually figure out their mistakes and do penance at the end. The majority of the current church officials are decent people who are saint-like in their devotion to god and humanity!. On the other hand, groups of intellectuals that were persecuted by the church long ago have now transmuted themselves to become powerful, evil groups full of wrath towards the church.

So basically baddies are these groups, which seeks violent revenge, not the church!

Hence, he succeeds in doing what the church always wanted to. He portrays the non-believers as seeking to wrestle control of the human destiny for their own purposes. They are diabolic and await a chance to deliver a final crushing blow to the church. At the end of his novel he often exonerates these groups but by then the harm is done. The reader who becomes so engrossed in the novel will continue to believe in these conspiracy theories.

And then he has a number of historical-curiosities (surely assembled by an army of research assistants slogging past midnight?) to make the book interesting and “different”

I conclude that when Dan Brown was writing these conspiracy theories (and getting millions hooked onto it), he was indeed in the midst of a conspiracy theory. But one in which he himself is the conspirator. My hypothesis (un-tested!) is that Dan Brown is part of a conspiracy with Catholic Church.

Why should church have an interest in the conspiracy?

The church loves him! After all, he is the best thing to have happened to the church after they stopped burning witches in the middle ages. Seriously, church is facing serious problems. Dwindling number of regular worshippers and even people who say they are Christians is a fact of life in the western world (particularly in Europe).

The backyard of catholic church (Italy, France, Spain etc.) is disappearing in the midst of public apathy and increasing secularist credentials of the governments. Further, the church is getting battered from all sides because of its anachronistic stand on social issues such as sex scandals in the church, abortions, female priests, condoms as an tool to prevent aids and finally its condemnation of homosexuality.

Believers are declining; church attendance is falling (hallelujah anyone?) and then comes this Dan Brown! What happens then? The entire f***** Christian mythology is played again and again. All the idiots read the books thinking how they are delivering a blow to the fat cats in Vatican! And what are the fat cats doing? They are laughing their way to the pulpit!

As far as marketing goes, no publicity is bad publicity. Especially for an organization which is struggling to stay relevant. And after the Dan Brown version of science fiction u hear about all these tourists visiting all the locations mentioned in his books (mostly church-connected). Church would hope (correctly I guess!) that at least a few of these gullible visitors could be lured back into its fold.

The crafty cardinals go ahead and denounce these books (thereby ensuring that every one would read it!). How the church would love if Dan Brown became big enough to suppress the other real issues, which it doesn’t like to address.


PS: The accusations made in the above blog are the fantasies of a fervent atheist/agnostic soul. I cannot be sued by any parties mentioned in the blog as I will easily get off on the “insanity” defense :)

PPS: At least no one can complain that reading habits are coming down. Look at the website of the hallowed physics lab, CERN (which is prominent in the book Angels and Demons) and you see that the poor guys even had to issue a “Fact vs. Fiction” report on the book.


silverine said...

Considering what you say is right, that the Da Vinci code is a massive PR exercise with the blessing of the Catholic Church, I still fail to understand how this book would succeed in winning back the flock with its so called expose of Catholic conspiracies.Do you mean to say that relapsed Catholics will suddenly spring to the defence of the church? And thus be led back to the flock?

Pope John's last moments, his death and the funeral was an curtain raiser to the New Age Catholic identity . The New Age Catholics may not fill the pews but he/she is still remains a Catholic. Albeit the regular church attendance perhaps, but then the New Age Catholics may not necessarily consider Church attendance to be a sign of their Christianity.

Catholics have evolved around the rules of the Church and their faith has survived despite the Church's snail paced reforms. However certain elements of Catholicism cannot change without denouncing Christs teachings like the right of the unborn to live. This compromise is perhaps the sign of the times.

Matter of Choice said...


If you consider what i said as correct (which is a BIG IF) then it is easy to prove my point! Bad publicity better than no publicity. Good publicity much much better than bad publicity.

In his novels, Dan Brown ends up portraying the church in a good light!. Because Dan Brown initially takes a harsh view of the church, he becomes identified as a critique of the church (in the reader's mind). So when he finally he exonerates the church, people are impressed because he is speaking from the position of the "critic" and a critic's exoneration always carries more weight than a supporter's eulogy!

I am neither saying that the catholics will spring back to the defense of church (defending what??) or be led back to the flock.

All i am saying is that, in the end, despite what people say as to how Dan Brown criticizes the church, he actually ends up praising them. That’s all i am saying!

The conspiracy theory is a figment of my imagination (i dont think any organized religion is smart enough to come up wit such an unorthodox idea). And of course I was only kidding :)

The argument put forth by you on the new age catholic is interesting. I might not agree with it, but I postpone the argument to another day. After all my dan brown blog was a fun blog. I will not defile that with any seriousness at all :)

ps: nothing specifically against catholic church; just that i couldnt find anything interesting to write about my tiny weeny church :)

silverine said...

No offence taken. I was merely replying to the post. And btw exceptionally well written post.

Perhaps some Hollywood producer will buy your idea and make a million dollar box office smash hit where Dan Brown will be the protoganist in a thriller that stretches from the dead sea scrolls to the hallowed halls of the Vatican.

Matter of Choice said...

Ah well..i have already received a few offers!. Right now everything is very hush hush as i am yet to finish counting the zero's in the cheque :)

Praveen said...

This is a great post, I was indeed looking forward to posting something on the book myself.

I thought the book was 'total timepass' and nothing else. I mean if you wanna get something out of the book, its not for you.

An article in a newspaper mentioned that the book has inculcated reading habits in ppl. At least the book has worked that way.

Anonymous said...

this naki is not a real "naki"

downersmate said...

I absolutely agree to anish's attribution to Dan Brown's attempt at whitewshing the decaying tomb of faith and the church.what is going on across the world in terms of killing and violence goes a long way to prove the nonetity of the church and its trappings.
However hard he tries ,Dan Brown cant satisfy himself that he has succeeded in bringing back the lost flock which is able to think for themselves unlike in the times goneby when learning was thr sole prerogative of the church and its sycophants

Anonymous said...

today, read nearly 5-6 blogs of urs at a stretch. enjoyed them a lot. Silverine's comments too...tell her :).
Your blogs are exceptionally good. this one though..dont find it entirely convincing......