OK, let’s talk about 50 Shades of Grey. 50 shades of controversy. 50 shades of are you serious?
I read all the books because I was on holiday and too tired to concentrate on anything requiring an attention span. I bought the eBook trilogy for slightly more than the price of one eBook. You know I love a bargain! It was a much needed holiday. We were all exhausted. I was poolside in Bali and too hot and tired to do much except read in the airconditioned comfort of our hotel suite, or drink cocktails and read in the airconditioned comfort of our cabana, or float around in the swimming pool.
Let’s be honest, I also read them because there was a lot of buzz and I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. I wanted to discover why they were so popular. They seemed to be an entirely different genre than my usual choice of well-researched historical fiction, modern literature and classic novels. With the odd zombie novel thrown in.
It’s kinda why I occasionally listen to shock jock radio in the car. You know, those grizzled old dudes on AM? The ones with distinctly different political views to my own and listeners who seem to come from a different planet, not just another suburb of the city I live in. It’s interesting to hear what other people think and to understand where other people come from.
I’ve got to say it. 50 shades of truly execrable writing and editing. The much vaunted sex scenes got old and boring fast. But I enjoyed the book. I kept reading because I wanted to find out what happened in the end.
Christian Grey seems like a bit of a stalker. He also seems like a bit of a stud muffin. Anastasia Steele seems like a surprisingly innocent girl for the time period. She’s 21 years old in the 21st century but doesn’t have a smart phone or a laptop. She doesn’t even have an email address. I find it equally amazing that she doesn’t get cystitis, just quietly.
I read the trilogy nearly three years ago. I skim read it – in fact, I skipped most of the sex scenes after a while – so I’m having trouble recalling the actual story line, sketchy as it is.
At its heart, once you’ve stripped out the whips and chains (thanks for the line, Nikki from Styling You. I did see what you did there!), it is a redemption love story … with a kinky twist. Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy and girl fall in love. With rather of a lot of kinky (to the average suburban vanilla beans) sex.
Reading about sex is a bit sexy. And that’s ok. I think the Welshman definitely enjoyed me reading the books. And that’s ok. People have been trying to make other people feel bad about themselves because they were turned on by a book. And that’s not ok.
Now that the movie has been released, there is a resurgence of this type of behaviour. Public shaming almost. Great screeds of outrage on social media. Campaigns against preschools trying to fundraise by selling tickets to a girls’ night out screening of 50 Shades of Grey, for example.
I’ve read comments that people should be ashamed of themselves for getting turned on by these books and the movie. They should feel bad about themselves for enjoying some light entertainment. They should feel terrible for going to see porn. OK, let’s clear that one up quick smart. MA15+ is the rating. There might be boobies and bottoms and sexy sex scenes, but take it from me, no porn.
There seems to be an almost hysterical reaction that people reading these books and seeing the movies are perpetuating domestic violence and endorsing abuse.
A lot of these people denigrating the movie, and passing judgment on other people, haven’t actually read the book. They haven’t seen the movie. How on earth this qualifies them to pass judgment on the books, on the movie, and on the societal harms that they fervently believe will occur from these books and movie? I am not lost for words terribly often, but this flabbergasts me.
Look, I have to say this. I didn’t see any domestic violence in the books. But I’ve never been exposed to it so perhaps I don’t recognise it properly. I saw a man with emotional issues trying to control his life by engaging in BDSM activities. I saw a young woman who willingly entered into an agreement. I saw an angry young man struggle and learn to love. I saw a shy young woman blossom and remain in control. She held the balance of power in the relationship.
Yes, I saw weird patterns of behaviour and odd occurrences that I wouldn’t be happy with. I see lots of peculiar actions and odd behaviour in every book I read, every show I see, every movie I go to. “Well, that’s not how I would have done that”, I say to myself. It doesn’t make me think “that’s what the book said, so that’s how I’m going to do it from now on”.
I’ve never felt compelled to kill someone so I can practice my cover up techniques, after reading a crime novel. After reading about domination and submission between consenting adults in a book, I had no plans to turn my laundry into a sex dungeon. I’ve never read chick lit and felt compelled to have a drunken one night stand with a handsome stranger who turns out to be my new boss.
I’ve done some further reading, and according to the BDSM community, the BDSM references were poorly researched and not portrayed accurately. But I’m ok with that. It’s not a BDSM guide. It’s a popular novel. It has no pretensions to literature.
I learnt new techniques for doing my hair from Christina Butcher’s Hair Romance^ book. I added some wardrobe editing, shopping tips and style tricks to my repertoire after reading Nikki Parkinson’s Unlock Your Style^ book. That’s why we read books like these. It’s not why we read books like 50 Shades of Grey.
(PS – if you’d like to read Christina and Nikki’s books, then make sure you enter my Kimba Like Blogiversary giveaway!)
The reason I, and many more women like me, read 50 Shades of Grey is because we wanted to get on the bandwagon. We wanted to join in the watercooler and school gate chatter. We wanted to read something a little risque. We wanted a little escapism. We wanted to be turned on. Go on, it’s OK. Fantasy is perfectly OK.
I am going to see the movie this week. I probably wouldn’t have done so if I didn’t have free tickets. I don’t usually see the movie of books I’ve read. More often than not, it’s because I don’t want to be disappointed. They almost never live up to my expectations and they usually cast people who just aren’t what my imagination conjured up.
In the case of 50 Shades of Grey, it’s because I don’t think it’s worth $20 and two hours of my time. I didn’t enjoy the books enough to want to (spend money to) see the movie. I’m more looking forward to the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream I’m going to buy myself than actually watching the movie!
This is my take on the 50 Shades of Grey situation. It’s a book. It’s a movie. It is a fantasy. It is made up. Not real. I can no more see people copying 50 Shades of Grey after watching the movie, than I can see them painting themselves blue and living in a toadstool after watching The Smurfs.
I think a lot of people are giving a really crappy novel and a so-bad-it-is-good movie far more credence than it deserves or is accorded by the people who read and watch it. Oh, and the movie company is really thanking you for the free publicity.
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