Summer is halfway over and it’s occurred to me that although I finished the trilogy of 50 Shades of Grey months ago, I never wrote about it. I’m actually glad I waited.
In the days/months after it’s release, Facebook alone was wrought with postings taking one of two stances: 1) “OMG how can a company publish such filth?” or 2) “Leave me alone! I’m busy… reading… and waiting for the movie version…”
Just like when someone walks into a movie and tries to literally interpret what is and isn’t real (making sure everyone hears about it either during or after), people were taking this trilogy far too seriously. Sure, everyone is allowed to have their opinions (and most people have no problem expressing it – especially around DC) but let’s re-examine this for what it is for a second – a series of FICTIONAL BOOKS.
The Over-simplified Summary
Christian Grey is a billionaire CEO in his early 30s, who has too many deep, dark childhood traumas (and secrets) that Anastasia Steele (his lady/muse/pain-in-the-ass woman/defiant girlfriend) drags out of him for three books. Meanwhile, he is dragging out her dark side too… in the bedroom… which is where the lure of the novels come from (okay for me, it was the brand new wardrobe she got).
It’s the sort of mental games that seriously, are no different than anything we hear about (in varying degrees), while walking down Wisconsin Ave., heading to Peacock Cafe. Sure, they get rough, she freaks out, he freaks out, they get back together and live happily ever after in their massive mansion, with two kids… and possibly a “dungeon-esque” basement (not, it’s not outright stated but any of you who don’t believe that, need to go back and re-read books two and three. Also, sorry for spoiling the ending).
Am I over-simplifying the summary? Possibly (because there are helicopter crashes, crazy ex-subs, and murderous bosses) but why give everything away?
Still, I’m amused at the fact that just because this trilogy touches on a taboo subject, doesn’t mean it’s wrong, awful or even downright mentally disturbing (by book two-and-a-half, you’re desensitized to most of it anyway because it gets repetitive). Quite literally people… in our lives (most of us) will have had sex. We will all have had sex in varying forms, styles, etc. Black widow females do it and kill their mate when they’re done – how much more violent can you get?! And… you can’t tell me any of you came into this earth by divine intervention. It’s a natural part of life and everyone has different tastes.
Still, I hear complaints from parent groups, religious groups, political groups, and people who just need something to complain about – all of them in an outrage that someone would “dream up” such stuff (head to Europe for a while, watch Skinemax, etc. – the author really didn’t need to “dream” anything up). Still, each one of us, deep down inside, is
fascinated curious with something outside of what our comfort level is – otherwise porn wouldn’t be such a big business. So when a book series comes along that pushes the boundaries, everyone is in an uproar… after reading it. This is where I find myself amused. Most people complain AFTER they have read the first book… and then they read the second… and the third… in hopes of becoming even more angry and having even more to say about it. Yet… they all read it – cover-to-cover like everyone else. I cannot tell you how many times I heard, “Read it. You will be so horrified, it’s so disgusting” or, “The whole trilogy was such trash and so wrong. Read it and see if you agree with me.” If you seriously, 100% believed that these books were awful, you wouldn’t encourage others, which means others would not have bought it and E.L. James wouldn’t be an instant millionaire. (Clearly, she knew what she was doing.)
I Don’t Condone Harm
With all this being said, it is important to point out the only group I could completely understand having a tough time with the story – those women who have been battered and/or abused. There is absolutely no excuse for unwanted/forced harm on anyone and for that, I can only imagine how disturbing some of the story was for those who read it – who have dealt with things beyond their physical/mental capacity.
What I Thought About the Trilogy
Point-blank. I liked it. In some weird, twisted, completely off-the-wall way, I saw it as a trashy novel with a fairy tale twist. Seriously – remove the sex in the novel (okay, so it’s like 80% total of the books) and you have a story most women read over and over again: Woman finds herself attracted to challenging man, he plays interested, she plays coy, he can’t get her out of his mind, a series of roadblocks get in the way (but it’s okay because “love conquers all”), he falls in love with her (despite said roadblocks), spoils her unconditionally and they live happily ever after. But let’s also be honest, women love to read trashy novels that take them somewhere else – a place that might never happen in their normal lives. Reading books and even watching movies are supposed to push boundaries, bringing your mind to places that can only exist in the magical world of entertainment. These books might not “do it” for everyone but I get the feeling that even those that don’t approve of the writings will still go see the movie (and then complain about that too, while encouraging others to see it, so they have someone knowledgeable to complain to).
For those that say this trilogy objectifies women: It was written BY a woman – a woman who I commend on being able to unleash such a powerful few thousand pages that got most of the women in the world “hot and bothered”, for a few weeks. I wonder how many babies will be born come winter/spring time…