Monday, May 22, 2006

Da marketing blitz

Jonathan Bock has certainly done an outstanding job promoting the Da Vinci movie via a kind of anti-Da Vinci dialogue blog. Barbara Nicolosi is enraged and she’s calling names. Hat tip to GetReligion for this link to Peter Boyer’s very interesting behind-the-scenes backgrounder on the origins of the movie’s marketing blitz:

That is precisely what annoys Barbara Nicolosi, a screenwriter and an influential Christian blogger, whose friendship with Jonathan Bock has been strained recently. She says that when she first heard that Bock was working with Sony on “The Da Vinci Code” she was optimistic. Bock’s connection with the project suggested to her that Sony wanted to mollify Christians, and Nicolosi urged her friends and readers to withhold judgment on the film; perhaps Ron Howard and his screenwriter, Akiva Goldsman, would not use the name Opus Dei, and would make the assertions about Jesus and Mary Magdalene seem more speculative and less factual. Then, she says, someone slipped her a version of the screenplay, and she realized that the studio’s effort to engage in a dialogue with the faith community would be limited to the Da Vinci Dialogue Web site created by Bock. Nicolosi felt that Christians had been sold out, as she proceeded to make clear on her blog. “Christians being coaxed into writing anti-DVC pieces on a stupid web site . . . are meekly accepting that they are being given ‘a seat at the table’ in some grand cultural discussion,” she wrote. “Duped! There is no seat, folks. There is no discussion. What there is, is a few P.R. folks in Hollywood taking mondo big bucks from Sony Pictures, to deliver legions of well-meaning Christians into subsidizing a movie that makes their own Savior out to be a sham.”

Nicolosi says that those participating in the Sony project are debating “on Hell’s terms,” and she refers to the Web site’s contributors, some of whom are her friends, as “useful Christian idiots.” [More]

Writing as an advertising professional, the marketing triumph proves that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Or controversy. It also proves that if you can’t convert people to your side, at least make them your friends.

How do you deal with this? Denounce the sham that is the Da Vinci Dialogue, or embrace it as legitimate engagement? After all, isn’t it better to speak up and defend historic Christianity than clamming up and have someone else define their own version of it?

Sounds a little like evangelicals and emergent folks throwing stones across the orthodoxy divide.

Review: Steven Greydanus's 'Your mother's a whore' last words.

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