Before I get into my views on “Fifty Shades of Grey,” I’d like to establish a few things.
I am not a prude. In fact, I have a rather large and manly perv lurking inside me, making jokes and gawking at sex scenes on the reg. But… I don’t believe I’ve been spanked since 1990, and it was at the hands of my parents.
That being said… I jumped on the “Fifty Shades” bandwagon because my office was abuzz about this “sexy and fun” new book. I uploaded it to my Kindle expecting to giggle, squirm and possibly even take a bit of delight in the apparently graphic sexuality on its pages.
What I found, however, was a dangerous story about control, abuse and a young woman desperate to please a man. Pretty much everything I despise.
As a contributing member of “the media,” I feel like I have a certain responsibility to voice my opinion when terrible things are being lauded. To give any credit, publicly, to this book as either well-written (even its author, E.L. James, has admitted the writing is bad) or redeeming in any way feels irresponsible and wrong to me.
Yes, our show Access Hollywood is not hard news, and one could argue that being a producer here also has its flaws. But people are fascinated by other people, need entertainment, and we report on the facts about celebrities. I guarantee if a similar story to “Fifty Shades” was revealed as happening in Hollywood, it would be our lead story… with very ominous, dramatic music attached.
I won’t get too into the plot of the book, as you can find a detailed description anywhere. Young virgin meets formerly abused man, man tries to make her his sexual submissive, girl lives in fear but yearns to please him. You get the point. Some argue that the storyline (and graphic sex, no doubt) provides escapism for its readers. I would have no problem with this rationale if the book wasn’t gaining popularity on the idea that it’s both fun (“mommy porn”) and positive (“a true love story”).
Those who oppose my thoughts on this particular topic say I must read the entire trilogy to understand that it is, in fact, a romance, and that it gets less abusive after the first book. Shouldn’t this book stand alone? And why would I continue reading about this sad sexual and psychological cycle?
I’m no Gloria Steinem (I do like a door held for me once in a while), but the feminist in me was clawing to get out as I read “Fifty Shades of Grey.” If S&M is your thing, be my guest. If vapid books are your thing, to each their own. If it helps awaken your bedroom imagination, so be it. But let’s not tout this book as anything other than the big step backwards that it is.
Let’s hope our daughters hear the negative reviews of this book, in addition to the fanfare, so that when they do inevitably catch a glimpse on mommy’s iPad or from someone at school, they have the tools to see it for what it is. And stop reading.
-- Whitney Frink