Over the weekend I broke down and read most of the latest Pop Culture Phenomenon, Fifty Shades of Grey. Okay, I didn’t read it, exactly. I scanned through it. It’s desperately in need of a professional editor but the point of this blog isn’t to point out the relative quality of the writing.
The Trilogy is something that struck a nerve with a lot of women out there and it’s always worth at least taking a look at something that hyped to at least see what all the fuss is about.
I don’t mean that it’s literally cover-to-cover smut. The author is no Henry Miller or Victoria-era Anonymous. The sex scenes are a bit silly and relatively tame, basically the book is a Harlequin Romance with riding crops.
For those who refuse to read it, Anastasia Steele (yes, written in 50 shades of purple prose), about to graduate college, meets Christian Grey, CEO of some big company. He’s a dom. She’s a virgin. He wants her to sign a contract for her to be his sub, and ‘claim her ass’. Tee hee!
Um, yeah. It’s actually a really intriguing concept, with the potential to be a serious study on power relationships between the sexes. Like I asserted in my previous post, I suspect all those writing seminars are wrong these days: ideas are what count, not the execution. Get yours out first if you have a good one and put as much effort into marketing it as you do writing it. (Some day I may even take my own advice….)
Anyway, aside from the odd oh my! and down where? it isn’t all that dirty. I call it porn because it is pure, unbridled wish-fulfillment. Shameless fantasy for an Inner Goddess.
Many critics objecting to the book complain that Anastasia’s character is so dull, and ordinary. Main characters are supposed to be larger than life! What is so special about her that she turns this wealthy, incredibly good-looking, powerful twenty-something CEO (did I say he was good-looking, every second paragraph mentions that he is) into a permanent walking hard-on? I mean, come on!
The same thing that makes a balding fat dude (no offence to Ron Jeremy) wildly attractive to a bevvy of bodacious blondes.
That’s the point! Anastasia is supposed to be YOU, the dull, plain, ordinary reader stuck in a boring job and a “did you do the garbage yet?” marriage. And that the smoulderingly gorgeous, brilliant, wealthy entrepreneur desires YOU more than anything else in the world, just as ‘Ron Jeremy’ is the blue-collar schmuck who compels beautiful women to strip off their clothes and have sex with him.
What I admire about the book is it’s utterly shameless, unbridled sexual liberation. Even if the whole sub/dom/spanking thing is repulsive, the author’s fantasy is entirely hers and she revels in it. And plenty of other women seem to as well.
And just like the Victoria-era writings of myriad Anonymous, the Trilogy delves into a very modern cultural taboo: that in the Feminist era of gender equality and Girl Power, there are women out there who WANT to be dominated by men. At least in their sexual fantasies.
The trilogy is not supposed to be even remotely realistic. It’s not supposed to be Literature, any more than porno is supposed to be Film. Just enough to move the story along from one fantasy (I WANT YOU!) scene to the next location (TAKE ME NOW!).
Read it, enjoy it, if that’s your thing, but it’s not meant to be taken seriously. So don’t.