Angels, Demons, and Disclaimers

ANGELS, DEMONS, AND DISCLAIMERS…. In general, the “Angels and Demons” movie hasn’t generated too much controversy in religious circles, at least as compared to “The DaVinci Code” a few years back. It’s certainly possible that some who might be inclined to criticize “Angels and Demons,” which apparently opens this week, realized that offering the movie free publicity would be counter-productive.

But there are exceptions. Variety reported last week, “U.S. Catholic League president Bill Donohue on Monday issued a statement asking that a disclaimer be inserted in the ‘Angels and Demons’ titles saying that the movie is a work of fiction.”

I’ve seen the trailer for this movie, and it doesn’t look like a documentary. We’re talking about an adventure starring Tom Hanks, who hopes to unravel a mystery before there’s some kind of attack on the Vatican. It never occurred to me that movie-goers might rush out to the theater and think the action/mystery story is anything but fiction.

My friend Rob Boston tried to put the issue in perspective for Donohue.

I haven’t read either [of Dan Brown’s books], but I know enough about them through cultural osmosis to figure out that they posit some kind of elaborate conspiracy involving the Vatican, cover-ups, mysterious symbols, hidden codes, secret brotherhoods, etc…. Typical of summer action films, it’s escapist fare and all in good fun. From what I’ve read about the movie, one scene involves a character jumping out of the pope’s helicopter — without a parachute.

Yes, I can see that we really need a disclaimer reminding us that this is just fiction. […]

Deep breath, Bill, deep breath. Remember, not everything you see on the big screen is true or even meant to be. For example, you know those “Star Trek” guys who have been whizzing around in that spaceship battling aliens with ray guns? I’ve been doing some investigating and it turns that’s all totally fake!

It is? You mean there’s no real Enterprise? The next thing you’ll tell me is that Wolverine is a fictional character and John Connor doesn’t really battle SkyNet.

“Angels and Demons” is obviously a work of fiction, based on a novel. No one has suggested that the events are real, or that the story is rooted in anything but fantasy. There’s obviously no need to pressure the studio for a “disclaimer.”

Bill Donohue has to have better things to do with his time.