My 16-year-old son and I sat in a small California airport last Friday night, waiting to catch a plane. He told me to look across from us, to my right and then behind me. Three women were reading 50 Shades of Grey. When we boarded, another woman was engrossed in her copy. That’s four women out of 60, plus those reading it on their e-reader. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen; that kind of math never happened with Potter, Hunger or Twilight.
As a writer and avid life-long learner, I read a lot of different things. This book was highly recommended by someone dear to me, I had no idea what it was, so I read it. The writing is repetitive, amateurish and won’t be up for literary awards. The content is mature, often erotic and mindless. In this case, none of those words are synonyms for entertaining.
Notice I did not put “shocking” on my descriptive list. Not because I’m experienced in the BDSM lifestyle, but because there is nothing new under the sun. A lifetime ago, while studying English Literature, I took a course called Principles of Obscenity. We read all the big ones, Story of O, Story of the Eye and shorter works by D.H. Lawrence. They were shocking to my 21 -year -old mind and unguarded heart. I learned, that really there are no principles to obscenity. Rather it’s the absence of principle that makes these fictional accounts a literary genre.
I find Fifty Shades simply the latest culture crusher to stand firm against. Next week a new magazine, book, essay, speech, movie, song, album, picture or other entertainment medium will prey on us and take it’s place in the number one spot.
Tomorrow we will still have to stand tall against the message that our marriage isn’t enough, your spouse isn’t everything you deserve, you’re not thin enough, we’re not pretty enough, you don’t think right, do things right, believe right, you’re too far right and you’re weak. All in all, the sun will probably rise tomorrow and with it the message that you aren’t enough and never will be.
The most troubling issue regarding 50 Shades, is the term “Mommy Porn.” Why is this okay? If one in six of our men were sitting in the airport reading a little “Daddy Porn” women would go crazy. It’s believed that pornography damages the image of women in the name of a cheap thrill.
50 Shades portrays the female character being degraded and emotionally damaged. Our culture embraces it by giving it a name and touting it on a national talk show. Why aren’t our men asking if they can have their porn featured on a talk show? It would never happen and the uprising would be like none other if it did.
Even some feminists have praised the book. What? Women dedicate their lives to fighting for equal rights and then embrace a series of books that are in direct opposition to what they stand for.
People however, don’t need our judgement for reading this book or even for liking it. We need to see it for what it is, a gale wind in the storm of life. It’s an opportunity to stand right next to God’s people, shore them up and pray against cultural norm.
It’s not the first time the wind has howled and it won’t be the last.
Take the high road, ride your high horse if you must, but I won’t stop praying for you.
I hope you’ll do the same.
What has been your personal reaction to 50 Shades of Grey ideology and hype? Do the themes and content seem new?