Thursday, May 23, 2013

When Fiction Paints a Wrong Picture…

(What Dan Brown Should Have Known)

In his recent novel, the Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demon author, Dan Brown called Manila,
the Philippines' capital city as the gates of hell.

Manila took the lime light, and so did Inferno, his recent work.

And although it has been written as a fiction, a form of literary entertainment; I can’t help but ask; has it not crossed the line?

Let me think aloud…

Fiction is but another form of literature that seeks to free a person’s point of view. It is a tale-tell of how a person sees the world, wrapped in the assumed and the created world of make belief. Fiction is the adult’s form of fairy-tales. It is our own version of monsters, villains, heroes and happy-ever-afters.

But like all other stories of fairies and dragons and monsters and Prince Charmings; fiction seeks inspiration from real life. It is a dream, inspired by our own realities.

So is the use and depiction of actual cities (take Vatican and Manila) in fiction somewhat a transgression of this make belief and reality?

Thing is, it is not. Reality inspires fiction. We inspire fantasy.

BUT there is a thin line between depicting a real story, a real, tangible character, and a breathing city with depicting a fictional persona or a make-believe city. This is why the likes of Narnia and The Capitol (of Hunger Games) are far more ‘real’ in our minds, because we share a common understanding of what it is.

Our biases taint our view of real and actual persons, places and ideas.

It is also murder to depict a real person or a place in ways below or beyond its worth. It is like painting yet again the beauty of Mona Lisa – in strokes and colors of your choice. It does not and will not give justice to the real thing. It will fail in comparison.

Thus to attempt to tell of a city’s glory (or gore) is to immerse oneself into the depths of its alleys, to experience its noise and music, to bask in its warmth and coldness. To tell of a city’s life is to seek its heart, to KNOW ITS PEOPLE. 

Yes Manila is not a perfect place to be. It has lots of things that even I dread of seeing (or experiencing) but Dan Brown in his Inferno is not able to fully depict Manila the way it is now. It has grown up and moved on from the sex-and-gangs era. The time of Asiong Salonga has long been gone. Yes traffic and pollution is there. But that does not give one the right to call it a gateway to hell.

To describe our beloved Manila
(and I quote from your book)…

 "When the group settled in among the throngs in the city of Manila--the most densely populated city on earth--Sienna could only gape in horror. She had never seen poverty on this scale." 
… I’d say, Sienna has not seen much of the world, huh?

Too much for an adjective, too much Dan.

Fiction is and fiction will be, but the story lacks substance now given the fact that it is based on an exaggerated view of a city he has not even been into.

Manila would never be understood unless experienced.

A little dare Mr. Brown,
Come and see for yourself, who knows, you might like the gates of hell.

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