After the debut of the 50 Shades of Grey preview, my social media has exploded with pros and cons, excitement and condemnation, and all around judgment of any of those opinions. As with anything that is so largely talked about, one tends to get an opinion rather quickly. If one blogs, one itches to share that opinion, hoping for a new outlook to entertain, amuse or otherwise invoke in the reader an emotional response in hopes of gaining more said readers… You still following? I highly doubt this is anything original, but for years, I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts on the 50 shades phenomenon and this is it.
Here’s the thing with me: I haven’t read 50 Shades of Grey, or any of its trilogy. Honestly, it isn’t my bag. I tend to lean toward fantastic and epic adventures (more stereotypically read by the band geeks that ate lunch playing Magic in High School) than what is becoming widely known as “Mommy Porn.” What I have is an issue with the current lack of storytelling and how that affects the next generation. This series seems a perfect example.
However, my curiosity was piqued as I do tend to want to see what the hub-bub is about when EVERY WOMAN ON EARTH, or so it seems, refers to or simply gushes over anything in a mass pop culture vomiting of social media over it. So, a few years back when it hit my radar the first time, I asked my husband if he had heard of these books. –Now, I’m female, and I totally read into every last twitch of an expression my other half makes without thinking, but I swear—He seemed to go through a look of concern like “Why, are you going to read them?” and then sheer amusement as he told me about this Stephen Hawking voice online that reads a horribly written sex scene from 50 Shades involving a female sanitary item. He said it was exceptionally badly written even aside from the abhorrent content, and then warily asked if I had considered reading the books.
To my recollection, I laughed at the idea—honestly assuming that it was a spoof-ish thing, not having any clue what these books were about. Yet, going back to my news feeds, it was there gain, staring me in the face. The internet post version of drooling over a male character, the likes of which I hadn’t seen since Mr Darcy (other than Edward Cullen, whom I’m still convinced is a practical joke played on the literary world/female population that backfired and shouldn’t count.) I then turned to my go to Wikipedia and other such sites. I also looked up and read snippets from the books. My thoughts went something like this:
Fan Fiction from Twilight? No thanks. Stephanie Meyer won’t associate with it? Dang, that speaks volumes. Story about a gorgeous but tragically-unaware-that-she’s-gorgeous chick who needs to get some and finds an emotional baggage laden S&M fan to get some with? –What?– The plotline, if it can be called that, is simply a tug of war between her wanting him to be a normal partner and his wanting to harm her physically to get off? No thank you *backs away slowly, imagining already kind of creepy Edward running around pulling tampons out of people*
I lost a bit of my faith in Humanity the day I finally listened to the Stephen Hawking reading and found it so uncomfortably funny (because of the voice reading it) and so revolting at the same time. It wasn’t even well written! I tried to make justifications that weren’t “mommy porn” such as a lack of modern literature that entices the populace—but I hated that because if badly written S&M and dominated females is what the populace wants, please oh please, don’t mass produce THAT! I have four book worm daughters that I want to be confident and intelligent women who respect men–but they’d darn well better be respected back! That goes for authors and relationships, by the way.
Now that the trailer is out, I have to agree with Matt Walsh that a boycott is in order. Why? Because we have to draw the line somewhere. You know what my favorite movie this summer has been? Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. It isn’t because I love science fiction or fantasy—which I do. It is because there was more story and depth in that film than most of the last few years movies put together.
What we see, what we put in to our minds through our senses and through our interactions with each other, effect who we are. You ever hear “You are what you eat?” That goes for your mind as well. I’m tired of being spoonfed garbage in the book store and the box office. We need to demand more.
Writers! If you want to entertain me–enlighten me, enthrall me, thrill me—but entreat my mind to feel that. Not just my shock value and adrenaline and/or hormones. Just like “mommy porn” shouldn’t be a basis for a book or film, neither should “disaster porn”. Writers need to unlock the stories that grab the stuff they are stitched together with and they need to bleed it on to the page. That is what I want. It can be funny, dramatic–anything really as long as it is a part of you that needs to be told. You can even add city destruction if you really must or giant robots, because they can be awesome, but for the love of humanity WRITE. CREATE. Don’t pander to me. I’m in my own head if I was solely entertained there, I wouldn’t outsource. Make me feel and think new ideas. Break molds that aren’t an insult to my intelligence or integrity. It is a tall order, but if you want my money, my devotion and for me to purchase your next work and suggest it to my friends, it is the very least you can do. You aren’t a money machine, you are an artist. Make a work of art.
Women, for the sake of our daughters, don’t show them that real literature is lack of character development, decent dialogue, and plot. Let their imaginations thrive on how great they can be someday, where they can go, and what adventures life can lead to. Help them see that life can have ups and down like a story, but life isn’t the bedroom. “Life” is the meat of the plot that drives the book to be fascinating. Your characters grow and explore and are whimsical, or dramatic and deep. Again, the bedroom isn’t the main course of life, it is the dessert. Let our girls know that desserts should be sweet and enjoyable. Let them see that the sky is the limit and all good things are possible. But teach them that the “nice guy” who would treat them like royalty is the one they want instead of romanticizing rich and exclusive emotional baggage turned abusive as an ideal beau.
Women teach your sons to have taste in actual storytelling, and please let them at least think that you do too. But more over, teach them something that is consistent when it comes to our gender. It is downright confusing to teach them to be gentlemen, and then ogle the opposite. Please teach them that a gentleman isn’t a suit and full wallet; it is an ideal of how to interact with other people. Nurture that chivalrous ability they have that is so charming and to have strength of character. To stand for what they believe in, to use their common sense and way they look at the world to compliment their potential mate.
I return, I’ll raise my daughters to understand that sexy isn’t cold, bland men with issues in the bedroom, but someone you can enjoy time with and go on adventures together, even if they aren’t romantic world travel getaways and look more like Malcom in the Middle episodes. But you can bet that when my kids grow up and life gives them the days that there isn’t much to talk about but books, movies and such, they’ll have more on their mind to talk about than garbage novels and their movie counterparts.