Fifty Shades of Interpretation

Picture from Universal Pictures Fifty Shades of Grey Promos

Since I’m trying to be a blogger, I think it is a rule or something that the week of a controversial movie you have to write about it. Something about being current, trendy, and search engines getting you hits. I might get my Novice Blogger card revoked if I don’t follow conventional rules.

So, here we go…

This week the screen version of the best selling “novel” (look, I was snarky – check that off my blogger scorecard) Fifty Shades of Grey is being released in theatres world wide.

In the past month there has been an increasing build up in the blogosphere about the movie, and this week blog posts about the movie will reach critical mass.

There will be fifty shades of opinion (not so clever, huh?) about this movie and book series. You can read this one post to figure out what every other blog post is going to say. Here’s a summation for you.

You’ll get the majority of the Christian bloggers criticizing a movie they have no intention of seeing and a book series they have never read. Because of this, assumptions will be made, and some out of context book quotes used. There is no need to read it to condemn it, most will say, and there actually could be some validity there. I don’t need to experience a lot of things to know it’s bad for me. That’s just common sense. But does the lack of direct knowledge weaken the argument being made?  I’ll ponder all that later.  Remember the anti-Harry Potter reaction from many in the Church? Most people condemning those books never read them. I always felt that weakened the argument against Harry Potter. Anyway, think that reaction times 1000. Because SEX. But wait… there is an upside. For once, this book has the Christian world talking about sex. I’ve got a lot of thoughts about that.  Because honestly, good, frank discussions about sex could benefit Christian culture and marriages.

You’ll get a mix of reaction from the Feminists. I’ve read critiques from feminists of the book series who see Christian Grey as a misogynistic bully. I’ve read raves from feminists who see a book series where a woman chooses what to do with her own body, takes control of her sexuality, and in the end actually has control in the relationship.

Next up, you’ll hear from the kinkier side of the internet. Those into the BDSM scene either love the book or hate it. Most of the BDSM community says the books are sophomoric in the depiction of people in their lifestyle. That the book misrepresents what is safe, sane, and consensual. Or, you’ll hear from those that are enthusiastic that their lifestyle is actually getting somewhat positive attention.  There are the prudish critics, upset that the characters use various toys and techniques. There are the more adventurous types, as well, that are okay with whatever goes on behind closed doors as long as it is consensual, assuring us that sexual fantasy is a as varied as people having sex.

There are plenty of testimonials about how this book sparked a new interest in sex in many marriages. Women finally learned to embrace some of their fantasies and husbands benefiting greatly from the increased libido of their wives and enjoying new bedroom exploits. Flip that coin over and you’ll find stories of women finding themselves addicted to erotica or fantasizing about the protagonist of the work and not their husband – causing intimacy issues and evoking similarities to how porn can be damaging to the psyche as well.

There will also be many heartbreaking tales of emotional and domestic abuse victims for whom this book triggers some memories. The over-controlling boyfriend who emotionally abused them for years. The manipulative lover who was toxic. Being trapped in a cycle of hurt. And then you’ll also read the women who found their own messed up abuse survivor (just like the book’s anti-hero) and helped him learn to trust and love and experience a mostly functional relationship. There are plenty of studies with various results about the type of person who reads Fifty Shades of Grey. Not all are drawn to abusers, not all escape abuse. It’s a mixed bag.

And let’s not forget the many critics of the book series. The writing started from Twilight fan fiction (yet another controversial series). The dialogue is stilted at times, repetitive, and amateurish. You know, like most blogs you read. The crowd of people making fun of the book is large and the snark cup runneth over. EL James, the author, must have a really thick skin. Or, perhaps she’s just sitting there laughing at everyone who makes fun of her magnus opus because she’s rolling in fat loot. The opposite side of the critics are the people who defend the work by reminding everyone that not every book has to a literary classic and sometimes people just like to read for entertainment and distraction and that it’s a modern day love story (because everyone falls in love with a control freak billionaire in this modern age). I’m sure the movie is full of stilted dialogue and awkward moments. It will win no awards, except maybe a Razzie.  Stop: Prediction.  This movie will clean up at the Razzies next year. You read it hear, first, folks.

The main takeaway from all this Fifty Shades madness – other than sex toy sales surging – is that this book and movie evoke a different interpretation for everyone. There is an innate response in everyone for judgment about things we don’t understand or want to understand. When something offends us we want to shout about it and protect others from making a mistake. Likewise, there is an innate response in everyone to defend what they liked, right or wrong as it may be.

But guess what, world – Fifty Shades will pass us by. There will be a new blogosphere bogeyman before long. Something new will capture the attention of the world, and Christian and Ana’s stormy affair will be yesterday’s news. One day we who write opinions and share them with the world will wonder why we paid so much attention to a little book series that will probably be a one hit wonder (granted, we’ll see repeats of this cycle for the next couple years as the sequel books have been greenlit for movie production). But yeah, at some point, this particular madness will be history and nothing more than a musty not-so-current event.

There, I did it. I finished a post about a controversial topic. One step closer to being a real writer, a genuine blogger. Wonder when I get my membership card? Check that off my to do list today.

Maybe I’ll read a book. Anyone have a recommendation?

3 responses to “Fifty Shades of Interpretation

  1. Today as I was reading the mass hysteria over this book/movie, yet again; I was reminded of when the Da Vinci Code threatened to destroy everything that was sacred. I wonder how many people even remember the name of that book/movie.

    • Yes!. I read a blog title today about 50 Shades Hurts Jesus. And all I could think is that I don’t serve a puny God, but a victorious one!

      And the Da Vinci Code eventually became a $5 movie in the Wal-Mart discount bin.

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