Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Why Fifty Shades of Grey Should Disturb You

Fifty Shades of Grey catapulted onto the book-selling scene during the Summer of 2012, selling over 65 million copies in 37 countries; setting the record for the fastest selling paperback of all-time beating the Harry Potter series. Its been so successful, so fast there's an adaptation being produced by Hollywood.

I think I understand why I'm so uncomfortable w/ the book. Its not remotely the content because I'm comfortable with people having their kinks. What goes on behind closed doors between consenting adults is, quite frankly, none of my business. I'm uncomfortable w/ the book because each time I think about the main character, Christian Grey, I'm convinced I'm reading about a domestic abuser & his apologist.

What did you just say?

I say again, this is a budding story between a domestic abuser & his apologist.

Christian is a stalker. He knows where Ana lives. He knows where she's was partying. He races to her rescue from across town & arrives at the exact moment she needs to be "saved". He claims he found her utilizing technology available through his shipping firm. But just because you have the technology, doesn't make it cool to it for private use. I may have a Hollywood crush with actress Dina Meyers but just because I can track her movements, doesn't give me the right to randomly show up. How is this not creepy?!

Christian at no point whatsoever does he ever use the word "please". He tells her when to eat, even when she doesn't want to. Tells her what to drink, even when she wants something else. All framed as he knows what's best for her. This is all framed as "improving" her behavior as if her "old" behavior is something that should be ashamed of. He's constantly telling her not to bite her lip because he can't control himself. Let's step back a minute. Is that not the same justification rapists use as to why they rape. "It was her fault. She was wearing a sexy dress & I just couldn't help myself."

Same with the gift giving. He initially starts w/ an over the top, 1st edition early 19th century English novel (I forget which ones specifically). He has her clothes sent out the night she got drunk & of course by the time she comes to the next morning, they've still not been returned. She's been brought by his private helicopter to some far away exotic locale where even if she wanted to leave, she couldn't. Same with him giving her a top-of-line computer to "help" her do research about the infamous sex slave contract. The same with him insisting that she come work for his multimillion dollar shipping company. He even instructs her when she can & cannot contact her friends & family The end result is that he's made her so completely dependent on him that she'd never be able to leave even if she wanted to.

How is this relationship not born out of coercion?

Keep in mind all this is BEFORE Ana agreed to be his little contract love slave. I'm not going to get into anything beyond that because the issue of consent (whether its a wise or otherwise) is a different set of ethical questions that only murkifies the purpose of this blog entry.

Don't even get me started on Christian's origin story. He's the adopted son of a crackwhore & was introduced to the BDSM by a pedophilia female lover. Thank you E.L. James for promoting the stereotype that if you're into BDSM (or have any fetishes for that matter), you're a freak & that there's something "wrong" with you. On top of all this, Ana spends the rest of the book trying to "fix" the guy as if there's something "wrong" with him & even makes apologizing when he crosses her boundaries. Again, how is this not the making of "battered spouse syndrome"?

Am I saying people shouldn't read this? Hell no! Lord knows there's plenty of mindless entertainment fluff out there. The Fast & the Furious series targets the suburbia SUV driving demographic that pines for something more "exciting" in their dreary lives. Same with just about everything written by Tom Clancy targeting the gun-toting, wannabe Medal of Honor video game playing demographic. I'm just concerned that by not looking beneath the surface of what's being written in Fifty Shades & being AWARE of those messages, we as a society are telling women that such behavior is not only acceptable but to be condoned.

If someone were to ask me whether Fifty Shades was worth reading? I'd tell them no. My reasons has nothing to do w/ the content, nor the messages it sends. Its simply a badly written book. The prose makes the Twilight series look like Nobel Prize material (something I never thought I'd hear myself say). The male lead isn't described as anything other than an Adonis. There's even less about the female lead. Beyond knowing she's an English Lit graduate & young & off, on her own for the first time in her adult life, we the readers know basically get zilch about her. At least w/ Twilight's Bella Swann, she has "chocolate" brown eyes & long hair. Same w/ her vampire lover Edward Cullen, he "sparkles" in sunlight. The set descriptions in Fifty Shades are practically no existent. Ana's inner voice, who's also the narrator, is uneven; sometimes she narrates in the first person, sometimes its narrated in the third person. I honestly feel Fifty Shades of Grey is the novel version of the Napoleon Dynamite movie, its literally 400+ pages of drivel.

If we are products of the very media that we consume, I dred knowing today's woman sees a character like Ana or Bella & thinks its something that should be aspired to. Throughout both books I kept thinking, "You're going to let a man define YOUR existence? Girl, stand up for yourself! Stop apologizing for his rotten behavior." Just because a person is a dom doesn't absolve them from being a decent human being.

I once said I was conflicted as to whether I should be happy people are turning off the boob-tube & picking up a novel or whether I should be concerned about the quality of said content. That inner conflict remains. I CAN safely say that if you're looking for mindless entertainment; the kind where your schedule revolves around watching crap like reality TV, this book is up your alley. If you're looking for a quality read looking for either an interesting writing style or compelling characters or a descriptive prose or even a post-read discussion fodder, your time is better spent playing the Xbox or Wii.

In other news...

This is one of the pictures from Lauren & David's wedding.

I won't remotely BS you that they have a perfect marriage. But unlike Christian & Ana or Bella & Edward for that matter, their relationship is based on communication & mutual respect. God willing they'll work out the difficulties ALL long-term relationships have.


Feel free to comment on any part of this if you so desire.


TRice said...

Eh, it's fiction. I read the whole series to see what everyone was talking about and I must say it was different than anything I had read before. Lol. However, I also read Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe and they are also rather disturbing. I'm sure that by reading them, some weirdos will be motivated but I was more disturbed by the movie Seven. I saw it a long time ago and just came away from the movie theatre shaking my head and thinking that it would just be an inspiration for psychopaths. Interesting blog...

Rosalie Langevin said...

Great review! Thank you for all you do regarding Fifty Shades of gray. It's nice to read a blog..
fifty shades of gray