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Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Fifty Shades of Chill the Fuck Out

The last few days, I've noticed a bit of a backlash to Fifty Shades of Grey, in light of the movie version coming out. I feel like since I went far enough when the first book came out to write an entire novella taking the piss out of it, I should add something to the debate but to be honest, a lot of what I'm seeing misses the point about the many things that are awful about the book.

In short, a lot of the criticisms are by people who are offended by the book (and by extension the movie) because of the way the relationship between the two main idiots is perceived as a love story, when it actual fact it is as rapey as the average installment of Law & Order: SVU. You know, that show with all the rape in it.

This is absolutely true. It's not a 'romance' anyone should be aspiring to, and that includes people who are into BDSM - consent and trust being essentially the most important factor in those relationships, because most fetishists are not actually turned on by the idea of being guilty of assault.

The implications of the way Christian Grey treats Anastasia Steele would be really frightening if it weren't for the fact it is impossible to think either of them as real people who might exist. And this is the real reason why Fifty Shades is horrible.

You could take the exact same story, make the pacing and characters a bit (a lot) better, and it could be a thriller about a woman who is lured in by charming, handsome man who is actually a sociopath (there are loads of stories like that, and nobody has to state that they aren't idealistic romances). The fact a fictional romance is fucked up and twisted doesn't mean it is an inherently dangerous thing to include in a book or movie. The fact that some people still find the fucked up, twisted romance appealing, is also not in and of itself a terrible thing - that is a feature of a lot of classic stories. How weird is every guy the Bronte sisters created?

What makes it a problem in Fifty Shades is that it was clumsily written by a naive author, and became popular without treatment by a proper editor who may have addressed a lot of this (due to the way it was initially self published). People read it because the sex scenes were talked about, but its position in the market as a romance made it more appealing to those who wouldn't normally look for erotic fiction or porn. It was a bit of fun for those who liked it and, much like Twilight (which Fifty Shades of Grey originally started life as fan fiction based on), for those who didn't like it it was just there to make fun of. It wasn't important.

Now it has reappeared on the pop culture radar thanks to the movie, it seems people have had a bit more time to digest the idea of it and what the things in the story that make them uncomfortable are.

But this book/film are not as dangerous as they can seem in some lights. And this is actually in part thanks to the fact they just aren't any good.




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