Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Real "Angels & Demons" Controversy

There is a film opening on Friday, directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks. You might have heard of it. It's based on a book by Dan Brown, author of The DaVinci Code. Does that ring a bell? It is surrounded by "controversy": For starters, because of the film's subject matter, the Vatican wouldn't let the filmmakers shoot in their churches. Some Catholics are angry about how the film portrays the leaders of their religion. There are those who are upset that a villain from book is not Muslim in the film, as he apparently is in the book.

The film, of course, is "Angels & Demons." And all of these complainers, all of these "controversies" distract from the truly offensive aspect of this film.

There is an ampersand in the middle of the title.

I have already written quite eloquently on why I despise ampersands, the most offensive and lazy of punctuation symbols. Only just last month we were subjected to something called "Fast Ampersand Furious," and now we have the dread of facing "Angels Ampersand Demons."

When, oh tell me when, will the ampersands of time finally run out?

The problem apparently begins with the title of the novel itself. It is indeed "Angels Ampersand Demons." I have no idea how long the book is, but it's a novel, which typically contains at least 30,000 words or so. I did read "The DaVinci Code" a few years ago, so I can tell you that Dan Brown is not without some talent as a writer, and as much as he strove to make every word count, doing away with as much exposition as possible in order to make the story "flow," he did not replace all the "ands" in his book with "&s."

Why, then, does anyone believe it's alright to do so with the title? Of a novel, for crying out loud?

"Sorry, three words is just one too many. This title needs to breeze by as quickly as possible. You've got the 'angels' in there, and the 'demons.' Those are both good words- very eye-catching. Because they're generally considered to be antonyms, and people like that juxtaposition. But we can't just call it 'Angels Demons'; we need something between them... something like 'and,' but not 'and.' Maybe a 'slash' mark? No- that implies the 'angels' and 'demons' are the same, or they could be the same. We're looking for juxtaposition, not dichotomy. Wait a second-- I've got it! We'll put that little squiggly line in there! People love that thing, and it'll still keep our official word count down to two!"

I'm sure the character Hanks plays is simply in too big a hurry to write out the full word "and." That is fine. But the filmmakers, and honestly the novel's author, have a moral obligation to viewers and readers to write out the "and" for him.

Tom Hanks stars as a man in a desperate quest to find the word "and" in the film "Angels & Demons."

Angles & Demons pic source.

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