OK, so anyone who knowingly clicks on this blog post has GOT to be a fan. Because even I will admit, this is probably THE least likely blog post I would ever actually write.
When some fad gets ridiculous, it's time for me to weigh in. And the fact that all three of the "50 Shades" books are now available in 3-pack (although it should be marketed as a "threesome" to keep the salacious factor high) means that the shark has been jumped here.
And so, I walked into B ooks A Million awhile back, saw the display for the "50 Shades" books there (alas, they were not selling threesomes), picked up the first volume and headed for a seat. Yeah, I know, I shouldn't do that. I was only going to read like 10-20 pages, really! Wound up reading (and OK, scanning) the whole damn thing.
So, what did I think of this summer's guilty (or maybe, not so guilty) female indulgence, and the book which American media would tell you are making all men in a relationship squirm nervously?
First off, I didn't know until I researched the background behind the "50 Shades" books that they really started out as "Twilight" fan fiction. And that the characters of Christian Grey and Ana are based upon Edward and Bella. OK, so that's a strike right there.
So-- I doubt there are more than 5 people ever who are reading these books for writing style. And I consider this a good thing. Because the writing style is middle school. Early middle school.
All right, no one wants to read me opining about the damn writing style either. What do I think of the sex scenes? Of the pornography? OK, I've got apps for those, too.
This book is not pornographic. Is it racy? Yes. Will the movie (which is apparently in the planning) have to be at least a hard R? Probably. But there's no need to shrink wrap copies of this book (note: mine was not).
And while the sex scenes involve some creative implements, as well as standard BDSM fare, they themselves, as written, really aren't much to write home about. It is quite wholesome, for example, that Christian always uses a condom. Quite thoughtful in this day and age.
But I guess the thing is the power exchange that's prevalent in certain sexual practices-- I guess that's why this book is kind of sensational. I offer a different take. Over the past several years, we all, as a society, have felt a decreasing sense of power to control our destinies. So here's a book with a main character who gets his kicks by taking that power away. This touches something deep, and not just a sexual desire either. But a desire for control in one's own life, and for self-reliance.
So, this is why women who are bright, professional, and feminist are being attracted to a book about a guy who uses handcuffs and paddles. Because he's satisfying a need. In this case, for security. At least that's my guess. If Christian Grey were Christine Grey, and she wore tight business suits and 5-inch heels in seducing her young male intern, this book would become hyped in the media as being all about female power. And I think a lot of guys, at least on the inside, would be attracted to this character. Because, again, this character is bringing security.
"But MM", you protest, "How can Christian Grey bring security by making poor Ana feel insecure?" Because Ana is learning to let go. When you don't get bound by the limits you impose on yourself, when you appeal to something greater... then that's when one truly gains control. You have to give to get sometimes. And that's what's going on in this book. This character is giving away her freedom, even her will, to ultimately gain her freedom. At least, that's what I think. I haven't read the other books yet.
A literary breakthrough? Not in the least. But a book that's allegorical to the loss of control felt in society, and the need felt by people to have their security ensured? That's how I see it.