50 Shades of Grey | say what?

50 Shades of Grey

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.

50 Shades of Grey

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.

50 Shades of Grey

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. 

50 Shades of Grey

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!

50 Shades of Grey

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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  • Pamela Burgess Rubino - 24 February 2015 - 8.50 pm

    Amen! This was one of the most well written pieces about “Fifty Shades”. I see from some of the other comments that I wasn’t the only one who had to know how it ends. The non-profit that I worked for at the time was promoting “Fifty Shades” girls night book clubs events to raise money for our organization and that is the reason I wound up reading the first book. I have to say that I’ve enjoyed reading your post more than I enjoyed reading these three books!ReplyCancel

  • Alison - 18 February 2015 - 12.51 pm

    I haven’t read the book or seen the movie, but I am intrigued, because I just found out it is set in Seattle! Who knew!?! I like what you say about it not being porn. Whenever there’s a news report about a nude painting and people are ranting, “It’s pornography!” I like to shout back at the tv, “Well, you’ve obviously never seen any real porn if you think THAT piece of art is porn!” Love your work lady 🙂 xReplyCancel

  • Sonia Bavistock - 18 February 2015 - 12.19 am

    Haven’t read it, don’t intend to. Haven’t watched the movie, don’t intend to. Thus… won’t be making any grand sweeping generalisations about it because I have no clue! Good on you for being so damn balanced and logical about all the hoo-haa (pun intended)! xReplyCancel

  • Sheridan Anne - 17 February 2015 - 8.46 pm

    Love your perspective!!! Very refreshing.
    Asked hubby if he wanted to watch it with me at the movies the other day and he said he doesn’t fancy watching soft porn with a bunch of strangers haha!
    I read the books and I didn’t think they were very well written BUT I did feel the need to know what happened between Ana and Christian.
    Whilst we are on the topic of twilight, is Edward not overbearing, over protective to the point of being possessive and occasionally condescending towards Bella?!
    Why don’t we rage about him being emotionally abusive?
    End Rant.ReplyCancel

  • Norlin - 17 February 2015 - 1.30 pm

    Have seen the movie and have yet to read the books. I enjoyed the movie – didn’t love it but it was enjoyable. The film didn’t really show too much of how controlling Christian was. More like…persistent. And Ana was definitely the one in control in the relationship. But I have to read the books to determine if some parts were missing or not. I’ve seen quotes taken off what’s presumably the book, which was NOT in the film AT ALL. The parts where he was controlling her, not listening to her when she said not and all that. Which was why it confused me as to why I hear people saying it perpetuates domestic violence or condones emotional abuse. Stay tuned as I finish one other book before I plunge into the world of Mr. Christian Grey 😉ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl Bryant - 17 February 2015 - 11.51 am

    A well written piece and very balanced. I’ve never read it/them. I did sit next to a guy on the bus who was reading it and read bits, but got bored pretty quickly. Firstly because he was a slower reader than me and secondly because the writing wasn’t great! It’s a book and a movie. If you don’t like it, don’t read or watch it. Simple really. Thanks for the blog, it was a great read … and beautifully written.ReplyCancel

  • Melinda - 17 February 2015 - 8.31 am

    I think you’ve summed it all up perfectly; completely agree! I read all three books, mostly to see what all the fuss was about. The first book I found particularly hard to get through, and I had no plans on reading the next two until the first one ended and I surprised myself with a burning curiosity to find out what happened with the two characters.

    It is what it is; fiction (albeit, rather terribly written fiction) and I think a lot of people have been reading far too much into it.

    I haven’t seen the movie yet either but I found the trailer enough to put me off. It seems somewhat awkward and cold… but I’ll probably get around to seeing it.

    From what I gather, a lot of people who didn’t like the movie have not read the books. I think perhaps when you take away Anastasia’s inner thoughts, the movie is harder to understand because it doesn’t give the audience a proper understanding to her conflicted feelings.

    And I’ll leave on that note – off to paint my laundry red. Sex dungeon here we come!ReplyCancel

    • Kimba - 17 February 2015 - 9.10 am

      Woohoo, you sexy minx! I had exactly the same reaction to the books. Terrible, struggled through, but dear gods, I needed to know what happened! Oh my!ReplyCancel

  • Tatum - 17 February 2015 - 8.18 am

    Another great perspective Kimba. Hubby and I watched the movie on Friday night (hooray for a date night…it was the only movie we could book in advance when we had vouchers that needed using back in December…unless we wanted to see a Pixar movie as part of the 20yr celebration).

    I love reading and, like you, I like to read the stuff that pulls the huge following. Be it twilight, Harry Potter, 50 Shades, whatever…this is the stuff that gets people who don’t usually read reading and that is a fantastic thing, irrespective of subject.

    Having seen it I found all of the hoohar especially laughable. The whole story is completely preposterous and the twilight fan fiction element stands out even more in the movie. People are definitely reading into it way too much.ReplyCancel

    • Kimba - 17 February 2015 - 8.57 am

      I love reading too. Have since I was very little and I will literally read anything. I also love to discuss books, which, as we’ve discovered, means reading the popular buzz books!

      Thanks for your take on it from someone who’s seen the movie! Yay for date nights!ReplyCancel

  • Carolyn @ Champagne Cartel - 17 February 2015 - 8.05 am

    I haven’t read the book or seen the movie, and am not likely to, so I have no gauge as to what is and isn’t accurate. But I will say the hysteria around it all seems a bit loco. Thanks for being a voice of reason!ReplyCancel

    • Kimba - 17 February 2015 - 9.11 am

      I haven’t been called that very often, so I’m taking that and running with it! xReplyCancel

  • Katie - 17 February 2015 - 7.26 am

    Completely agree! It’s kinda like the old ‘video games are responsible for violence in the world’. Actually, there have been studies that suggest that people who play violent video games are less likely to be violent in real life, although it wasn’t a full study so can’t be taken as fact. I enjoyed the books, but they were terribly written, far too many boring repeditive sex scenes and I felt like a story line would begin then the author must have changed her mind and rushed a conclusion. I too will be seeing the movie, out of curiosity, although I’ve heard it’s not very good. I’m using it as a chance to have a catch up with a friend who got me onto the books and I haven’t seen for a while. Love your work Kimba ReplyCancel

    • Kimba - 17 February 2015 - 9.08 am

      People who play video games can be violent – if they are violent people! Video games probably don’t have a lot to do with that!

      Whilst I believe that, I also won’t let Boyo play games that aren’t suitable for his age group.

      Enjoy the movie and your girly catch up! xReplyCancel

  • Lila Wolff - 16 February 2015 - 11.02 pm

    Sorry totally disagree. First let me start by saying I have absolutely no problem the sex side of it, I think that more open discussion about different flavours of sex is a wonderful thing.
    But I don’t have to have read the books in their entirety to know that the depiction of consent is not true moral or legal consent. Or that if I google any warning signs of domestic violence the relationship between Christian and Ana fits those profiles far too snugly for comfort.
    Part of my issue is that people who haven’t experienced domestic violence are shushing those of us who have. By shushing that opinion it is normalising illegal dangerous behaviour and that’s pretty upsetting to someone who has been through that experience.ReplyCancel

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