Personal Opinions

My Beef with 50 Shades

Because I have one…a big one. Many, actually. And I know I don’t have a right really to have these opinions or even voice such thoughts on something like 50 Shades…because I haven’t read it and have absolutely NO intention of seeing the movie. None…what-so-ever. You couldn’t pay me to read the book, or watch the movie or even pencil in a tentative date to do either.

But as my dear friend Mary so eloquently put it, “You don’t have to take a big bite of sh** to know what it is.”

Now I’ve read excerpts from the book. I’ve seen the trailers to the movie. I’ve talked to enough people and read enough interviews and articles to formulate my own opinion. Admittedly, there is a huge part of me that’s extremely upset that it’s not me. I’ve been writing fanfiction since I was sixteen and it’s been my dream to become a published and well-known author. I’m standing in my own way with my horrible knack for procrastination and my self-inflicted writers block so being mad at someone for doing what I want to do is pointless. I realize that. That doesn’t mean that I’m not petty enough to get uppity over the fact that the 50 Shades author took a piece of Twilight Fanfiction, changed the names and pulled it off almost effortlessly. And she did. Let’s not make the mistake of thinking she went to half the work that most published authors go through to put their literature on the market. If she managed to get herself an editor, it was a bad one. I’m willing to bet she didn’t. I’ve seen my fair share of fanfic writers do the self-published thing without so much as considering the benefits of an editor to go over their work first. But, as long as you have a fan base, you’re golden, I guess.

So here we have a self-published piece of terribly written literature which the writer did little to no work to get published. And get mad if you want…but compared to the greats who have publishers, who have editors that make their pieces bleed red, who have creepy hideouts to seclude themselves in for the strict purposes of finding the muse and not allowing it to escape….this woman did nothing. What you’re seeing is publishers noticing the mass craze and capitalizing on the gain by purchasing the publishing rights regardless of the awful writing, lackluster plot and the almost painful cheesiness of the material. Anastasia Steele? You’ve got to be kidding me.

What upsets me more than this though…and maybe it disappoints me…is that people are defending the writing. It’s a startling thing when you see so many people considering something that seriously isn’t, good writing. Have we fallen so far as a species that we would take something like this and consider it quality entertainment? I almost feel as if we have. This book is nowhere near the level of Little Women, Tom Sawyer,  The Great Gatsby, The Stand….it cannot hold a candle to those books and many others. Books we considered master pieces, books you can’t put down. I remember shutting myself in my apartment for two days straight while reading The Green Mile and had to stop at the end to sob for an hour because of how much emotion that story made me feel. It was incredible and worthwhile…an effortless read with a strong message and a well written, intricate plot filled with characters you could relate to, you could hate, you could love….it was art.

This is not art.

I could pick the piece apart bit-by bit. By God, I could make that piece bleed like battlefield.

My biggest problem, however, is this.

This entire series is based off of one thing – an abusive relationship.

Let’s not color-coat it. Let’s not defend the basis by crying out for poor Christian and his abused past. Bottom line, here is  a man who is manipulating a woman for the express purpose of pleasuring himself by inflicting pain on her, by dominating her, by ensuring that she is his slave. And this isn’t something Anastasia all together wants. She tries to escape him. And he chases her down. Apparently, stalking has become a form of deep, romantic courtship.

Ana is resistant, she’s shy, she’s inexperienced and Christina knows this. He uses it. He uses her. In a BDSM relationship, there are rules and respect. There is a mutual connection and understanding that BOTH parties are in it for the same thing. It’s not one person gets what they want while the other submits to the other person’s desires. It’s not like that at all. I’m not an expert on this but I’ve done my research, as a writer, because when you write things like this you have to know what you’re getting yourself into. You don’t write a piece of fiction with a deaf character without knowing a damn thing about the deaf community.

To mass amounts of women and men everywhere, this has become acceptable. They want to read about people being abused and that scares me. Would they want their children in a relationship like that? Would they personally want to be in a relationship like that? Or do they just get off on watching someone else be subjected to that kind of treatment?

I’m not just talking the physical here either, guys. I’m talking the mental abuse, too.

The main factors of an abusive relationship are when the abuser dominates the victim, when they cut them off from everyone and everything they know, when they systematically manipulate the victim into thinking the way they want them to think, doing the things they want them to do. One particularly disturbing part of this series is the fact that Christian wants Ana to sign a contract, essentially signing away her rights to behave and think as herself, becoming his property. How is this romantic?

I don’t understand it. I probably never will. Sometimes I wonder if half the people flocking to this new, frightening trend have faced abuse before and find some kind of justification or comfort in watching it play out in someone else’s life, if they find some kind of peace in knowing they’re not alone. With as many people backing this writing as there are, that also scares me.

I could never imagine myself or any of my children in a relationship like this. God help any man, or woman for that matter, who may even think of treating my daughters in such a fashion. It frightens me that they’re growing up in a day in age where something like this has become as wildly popular as it is. I never want any young woman to feel as if it is okay to be treated in such a horrific manner.

I’ve heard some describe the relationship as open, that it’s all about communication and “I’ll give you this if you give me that.” And maybe eventually love does blossom out of this tragic jumble of poorly written filth. If it does, what a message to be sending. If your man is manipulative and dominating and doesn’t allow you to be yourself, stick around…he’ll change!! Yeah, because that happens all the time. The percentage of abusive relationships that eventually turn around and end the way this series does isn’t a very high one. In fact, according to The Domestic Violence Intervention Program’s website, there are as many women killed by their intimate partner than the total number of men and women killed in the Viet Nam War which was 54,000. I don’t think that number compares to the number of women that rehabilitate an abuser. (http://www.dvipiowa.org/myths-facts-about-domestic-violence/)

I’ll never find out just how the real ending of this novel plays out and I’m just fine with that. But to me, it sounds about as unhealthy as any relationship could possibly be.

I’m pretty sure that even if I did, my opinion on the content would still stand. I’ve seen more intriguing, attention getting fiction written on the insides of bathroom stalls.

I’ve also seen more fanfiction done by such highly talented writers and it saddens me that their work is not published. I hope one day that it is and those pieces, that artwork, will have a profound enough impact to make people think, to make them question, to join lust with love and tension and all things that make fantastic writing fantastic writing. Not just make women men and women go “ooh yummy.”

Or, you know, the rest of us go “ooh barf.”

1 thought on “My Beef with 50 Shades”

  1. Omg I love you so much. ((hugs)) WELL SAID. Someone has to stand up for quality in literature.

    I keep seeing people say “well, I wasn’t looking for great literature…” Well wth are you looking for then? If you go into McDonalds and they hand you a crap sandwich, with actual crap slathered between the buns, do you take it and say “Well I knew I wasn’t coming into a gourmet restaurant…”

    For the love of all that is holy, wake up, people! You’re eating the shit sandwich when there are steak shops RIGHT NEXT DOOR selling freaking kobe beef for the same price or less!!

    Two words for anyone interested in erotica: Anne Rice.

    Or hell, why not Hustler? Or Playboy? Because I can guarantee that the letters are better-written than the garbage people are scarfing down. It’s just discouraging.

    Guess I need to go read some fanfiction, and remember what GOOD literature is like. 😉 ❤

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