It has been a week now, and the avalanche of social media hype surrounding the debut of the film 50 Shades of Grey seems to have subsided. Thank. God. No really.
The book has apparently little literary merit. It is chick lit at its worst. I say ‘apparently’ because I have not read it and have no desire to. I wrote about the book several times upon its release here and here.
The film on the other hand has piqued the interest of people who would not devote any respectable amount of time to reading the book, but a few short hours on the big screen seems to have been a different matter. But the verdicts have been mixed. Feminist have been vocal. There has been reports of the film being more about domestic, emotional and psychological abuse than erotica. And for those who have sat there, it has been confronting, funny, disappointing and tragic in the most absurd way. If you are interested in reading one such review you could start here and read Rosie Waterland’s review on Mamamia.
One of the things I find problematic is the positioning of a rich, good looking man – a protagonist that many a reader would ‘fall’ for – in such a role as Mr Grey. The reality is we are all easily seduced, by a word, a look, a gesture of kindness, a promise of love, romance, hope and fulfillment. This latest hurrah seems like a slightly more grown up (twisted and unchaste) version of the Twilight series that had girls swooning.
I have four girls. I don’t want them to enter adulthood thinking this pulp fiction is how women should behave and what they should aspire to. This is not about being progressive. This is about confronting what behaviour we should abhor and avoid. But when you are young, naive and “entering the world of men” as the sixteen von Trapp daughter sang in The Sound of Music sometimes there is not the wisdom and discernment there to protect you and save you from yourself.
There is no grey area when it comes to Mr Grey. Say no. It is a black and white issue. Really.
|Donna Karan Fall 2012
So have you kept up with the media hype? The book that continues to sell and be read by thousands. If you recall you can find my general impression of the novel here, but I would urge you to read Douglas Wilson’s take on it from the Huffington Post. He makes a link between the Twilight series and 50 Shades in a way that suggests that they are both targeting a similar female audience who wants to be duped. Wilson writes:
“Now as many know, the publishing phenomenon of Fifty Shades of Grey began as Twilight fan fiction. This is no accident at all. The train not only leaves one station, but it usually arrives at the next one. The two publishing phenomena are using the same basic device — women who learn to view themselves as prey. And it’s working (like crazy) this time around as well.”
This take on the word grey and prey by Wilson is helpful. Playing in the grey areas here is playing game with being prey. He concludes by arguing …” the fact that an abuse-prepping catechism like this one clearly appeals to millions of women is grand news for predatory (straight-toothed) men everywhere. This Fifty Shades phenomenon has been called “Mommy porn.” Sure — Mommy porn for women with daddy issues, for women already trained or currently training, to view themselves as prey.”
So now I am convinced there are several levels to reject the novel. Mommy porn, yeah not good. But the idea that this text like Twlight before it, can train our thinking about how we might behave, how women might behave with men is even more perturbing.
Do you ever read or view material that you find a little uncomfortable? When I was young and at University it was a time for pushing all the boundaries. I am hoping that with time, wisdom, maturity in faith and kids I have become somewhat more conservative and thoughtful about what I see and read. Why? Because I know it matters. I think it really does matter what you ‘consume’.
So recent reviews and comments about the best selling book, 50 Shades of Grey has got me thinking. I thought it was a crime novel. Simple. But it is more than that and Melissa Jenna tackles this novel and a recent film in a thought provoking piece about Mommy Porn. “Mommy porn” you ask, you don’t know what that is? Society has worked hard to make porn palatable, available and acceptable, even to the average suburban Momma. It is more than Mills and Boon or a Hollywood Rom Com. It is more than an infatuation with Mr Darcy. I would encourage you to read Jenna’s blogpost ( and at time of publishing almost 1800 comments!) to fast track your own thinking and be challenged about how you view the burgeoning of Mommy porn. Sometimes you just need to move on into the debate. And see for yourself what you are seeing in a new light.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Matthew 6:22-23