Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Katie the storyteller

Yesterday in Anders doesn’t care, Spot said he had some observations on Katie’s columns on Sunday and Monday. Here they are. In the Minnesota Monthly story commented on in Anders doesn’t care, Anders and Katie emphasized the story-telling role of the news columnist. Let’s see, boys and girls, how good the stories that Katie tells are!

In What happened to media's sensitivity about religion? Katie fulminates about the new documentary on the Catholic Church, The Da Vinci Code. JUST KIDDING, Katie. For those of you who have been living in a cave – or perhaps a tent in Iraq with Dave – The Da Vinci Code is about a twenty-century cover-up by the Catholic Church of the fact that Jesus was married and sired offspring and that their descendents live to this day. The ultimate bad guy in the movie is a monk named Silas, and Silas is kind of an Opus Dei enforcer.

Who are the protagonists in this story by Katie? Are they the characters in the movie? Nah, they just get a passing mention. Katie’s column isn’t a story about the making of the movie, either. Well then, what’s it all about Spotty? Katie is unhappy because she thinks that the media treats Muslims better than Catholics. So you see, boys and girls, the column is about Katie herself! Which is why it really isn’t a story, but rather an opinion piece.

Juan Cole, the brilliant Middle Eastern historian and author of Informed Comment, says that the book and the movie have touched a nerve because it is a parable of American modernity:
Despite the scowls and titters of the critics, the DaVinci Code did $77 million at the box office [over the weekend of its opening] in the US, better than Tom Cruise pulled in MI3. And the world-wide gross is already $224 million.

What in the world accounts for the popularity of this complicated and improbable story?

Dan Brown's narrative is about restoring the happy medium to contemporary Western modernity.

A little later in the post, Professor Cole says:
The film is popular because it isn't about Catholicism or France or some odd conspiracy theory centered on Mary Magdalene. It is popular because it is about the dilemmas of secular modernity.

Cole notes that the Shia are into self-flagellation, just as Opus Dei members are. Katie’s real problem is that not everyone buys into Katie’s belief system, especially some of the minutia, and that’s just sacrilege to her.

This issue came to a head recently at the St. Thomas University commencement. In describing a speech by a graduating senior and a seminarian at St. Thomas, the Star Tribune wrote:
Ben Kessler, an academic All-America football player who plans to become a priest, chastised students for using birth control, criticized them for a recent food fight and upheld the St. Paul university's controversial policy against allowing unmarried faculty and staff members in romantic relationships to room together on school trips that involve students.

"Then he got into other failures of society, and one of my classmates next to me stood up and left," said Daphne Ho, a graduating senior whose family traveled from Hong Kong for the celebration.

The article goes on to describe the reaction to Kessler, the budding
communis rixa. The amazing thing is that this sanctimonious little tight arse probably had no idea that his medievalist homily would meet with less than universal acclaim.

And by the way, Katie, Muslims aren’t always portrayed in a favorable light at the cinema. Think Indiana Jones.

And yesterday, in More a purple state than a blue state now, Katie crows about how more people self-identify as Republicans than used to be the case. Who is this story about? Is it about Larry Jacobs, a professor at the University of Minnesota who is quoted by Katie? Not really. It is about Annette Meeks, who is also quoted as one of the state’s many recent immigrants? Again, not really. It’s mostly about Katie’s exultation that (primarily evangelical) church attendance is up, and that explains why Republicans are more numerous. Maybe. Kevin Phillips seems to think so. I guess we’ll find out more in November.

Anyway, not so much story as opinion piece.

Spot did find one thing funny, though. Katie, quoting her homie Meeks, says:
Annette Meeks, my former colleague at Center of the American Experiment and a longtime Republican activist, says she often meets these newcomers at [Republican] party events. "When I speak to Republican groups, I'm always amazed at the number of people who, like me, have come from other states, where -- for example -- taxes are much lower. They say, 'It doesn't have to be like this.' "

So, people are attracted to Minnesota because of the jobs, the amenities, and the general quality of life. Then some of them, like Meeks, immediately start trying to turn Minnesota into the same kind of shit hole they came from!

Tags: tells stories about and

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