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?


  1. My literary friend, I am there with you. I knew of the popularity of these books. And since I like to know what is going on in the world of "Pop Lit" I read the first book.

    Now I will freely admit that I tried to read the first Twilight book but after standing in that isle in walmart, 10 pages in, I was like Peter Griffin seeing Failure to Launch and screamed, "DONE!"

    But something in Grey made me read on. Maybe it was hoping Anastasia would get wise, or that the writing itself would truly be more subtle or at least more fluid. But it wasn't. I am told that I gets better in the other novels, but I am not sure I want to waste my time reading them.

    One thing I had with Ana was that she had no idea about her self-worth. Considering the way she was written, she should def have some self worth. But no, she is not only a model (most likely the opposite of what author EL James sees herself as) but she thinks no man can see her as a sexual object, or can't believe men see her as that.

    That in of it self is a poor reflection of the stories. That you need a strong, independent, dominant man to tell you what you are worth.

    Do I want a woman that is fun in bed, sure. But it goes both ways. I'm not sure if Grey ever truly trusted Steele and vise versa. I haven't read the 2nd and 3rd books but im not sure I want to.

  2. Actually the first two are the better ones (relatively speaking), and the third goes down hill rather rapidly. I guess it's too much to ask for a love story based on equality, with no stalking.