Friday, August 10, 2012

A Few Words About Fifty Shades of Grey

I have recently been pondering the subject of popularity.  In particular, I have been pondering the sort of Earth shattering popularity that leads to mega-bestsellers.  Currently the top three spaces on the paperback fiction bestseller charts are being occupied by Fifty Shades of Grey, and its two sequels, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed.  I will confess to having read them, but only out of curiosity.  Generally when anything is that popular, I run in the other direction because it is my normal inclination to assume popular=bad .

I will also freely confess to only having the slightest idea about what gives the mega-bestseller its popularity.  It clearly feeds something in our collective egos that needs to be fed.  Fifty Shades by no coincidence, fed the same part of our egos that was fed by the Twilight novels it was based on.   In this case we will assume women are the example as they are the intended audience.  Women are fascinated by the love story at the heart of these books.  The typical heroine does not believe herself to be attractive, and is clumsy and lacks self-confidence.  She's an every woman, who most women see something of themselves in.  Therefore they can imagine the dashing hero wanting to be with them as well.  So it feeds their need to feel attractive, and fell that there is a dashing hero out there for them.

I have no issue with this, as I think it is a fairly common female fantasy, and it's not an unhealthy one.  The unhealthy part, is the quite obvious mental abuse that takes place in both the Fifty Shades series, and the Twilight books.  Stalking is never okay.  Nor is needing that much control over the object of your affection's whereabouts or behavior.  We all want to be wanted, but both of these books cross the line.  The romance here is suffocating, not epic, and it really concerns me that this is the type of relationship that women fantasize about.  And when do we get a heroine who is aware of her own beauty?  Men in this book are fawning all over her, and she is unaware she is attractive.

Are these some concerns that you share, or should I just lighten up a bit?  What drew you to this book?  Was it everything you expected?