- Martha C. Nussbaum, Not for Profit, 2011
Americans often get a bad rap when it comes to several areas of their very … particular culture. As the (probably American) reader, I wouldn’t be surprised with your hostility towards my choice of words. I could have used words such as unique, exclusive, or even uncommon to describe their great nation. Compared to less media-centric nations such as the lovely Antarctica, America is nothing short of peculiar. From the treasured 90’s boy bands of N*SYNC to the more recent Justin Bieber and his army of tween idols, Americans have the rare, unrivaled ability of latching on to the next big thing and sucking that sensation dry like the ravishing leeches we are. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown was no exception to this cattle call of the media farm. All the ingredients were present: Controversy? Check – nothing like pouring over a little controversy with your morning tea. Puzzles within the pages? Check – nothing like a distraction from Sudoku. A male and female hero? Double check – everyone feels represented! Mix that all up and pop in the oven and we have literary brilliance! Now all we need is frosting to make this cake perfect – slap on some Vanilla Jesus and we are ready to roll! When Brown released his novel in 2003, America went nuts. Literally. Were Brown’s words really true? Did Jesus and Mary Magdalene get married and have children? Did Constantine and the Council of Nicaea decide on the divinity of Jesus? Was the Catholic Church supposed to be led by women, and not by men? And most importantly, did literary superheroes look better in spandex or tweed? Brown stated his facts were true, the Catholic Church remained tight lipped for months, and skeptics barraged bookstores with debunking novels eager to prove Brown wrong (and make that Da Vinci money in the process.) That’s good and all, but has one ever sat down and thought about the impact of these 464 pages in that hardcover book? In a culture accustomed to leisure and pampering, the shock of the 9/11 terrorist attacks laid out the groundwork for the one thing America was so afraid of – terror! By exploiting the fears of the now paranoid American culture, Dan Brown was able to skyrocket his way to success with The Da Vinci Code.
Before 9/11, America was the pride and envy of all nations around the world. Being a relatively young nation, America had accomplished a myriad of things in a short amount of time – The Declaration of Independence, The Emancipation Proclamation, Women’s Suffrage – the list is quite long. America welcomed immigrants alike to the freedom that the nation promised, and the opportunities provided by being “American.” There weren’t any big security precautions needed – America was a great nation of tolerance that wouldn’t hurt a fly. There was a sense of innocence, a sense of openness that only America had. Once you were sold the “American Dream,” there was no looking back. Anyone could make it in America.
Dan Brown was one of the many vying for the American Dream. Born in 1964, Brown grew up in a household surrounded by puzzles and mathematics. His father was a mathematics professor, and sparked Brown’s interest in the subject at a very young age. Brown produced some musical work in the late 80’s, dabbling in a music career for around ten years. He taught for a few years, and traveled around the world. However, he wasn’t inspired to write until a vacation in 1993 where he read a thriller novel, The Doomsday Conspiracy, by Sidney Sheldon. The first novel