Though fans of the HBO newsmagazine series Last Week Tonight will still have to wait a few more weeks before the return of the show for the continuation of Season 9, viewers can find some salve for their need for host John Oliver‘s signature brand of humor. Today, the series’ YouTube channel released an online exclusive segment targeting the 2003 Dan Brown novel, The Da Vinci Code, and its 2006 Ron Howard film adaption of the same name.
So what is his issue with the novel? Well, the answer to that is, as Oliver says, “The maddeningly simple solution to the titular puzzle.” As the comedian tells it, “Robert Langon was the only guy smart and horny enough to solve a bunch of art puzzles.” And again Oliver emphasizes the impact of the Da Vinci Code on pop culture in the 2000s. “It is hard to overstate just how huge this book about using art to solve crimes and piss off the church was,” Oliver says. “The point here is, The Da Vinci Code book was massively, inescapably successful and had a major impact on culture at the time.”
The puzzle states: In London lies a knight a Pope interred. His labor’s fruit a Holy wrath incurred.
The fruit in question? An apple. The knight? Physicist Sir Isaac Newton who discovered gravity thanks to a falling apple. The answer to this puzzle is simple enough. However, Oliver states that “both the book and the movie make it seem like only the brilliant Robert Langdon could possibly decode the mystery behind those complex words.” He drives the point home by showing a clip of the long-haired Tom Hanks solving the riddle by spelling it out, quite literally (A-P-P-L-E), much to Oliver’s chagrin.
But what, then is the point to all of this? The answer is no, not really. As Oliver tells it, the novel took over in an incredibly tense post-September 11 world, a time in which the foundations of the American world view of stability and prosperity were being shaken. At the time, people were increasingly drawn to conspiracy theories that made simple a world that felt, increasingly, out of control. So maybe the fervor over The Da Vinci Code does reveal something about our current political climate. Or maybe Dan Brown should have written a better riddle.
Regardless, if you want some real John Oliver political commentary, you will have to wait until February when the series will return to HBO.
“There is more than one way to be a terrible person.”
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