In my ever-present quest to keep up with everything pop-culture related, I found myself reading “Fifty Shades of Grey” this summer. With a considerable amount of hesitation, I found myself completely engulfed in the first book. I’d heard a substantial amount about the series; the first time it was brought to my atten- tion was during Passover dinner when my brother and stepmom got into it because of the book’s effect on women and society (runs in the family).
My brother’s original disdain for the book stemmed from his belief that these books are “bad for the attitudes of women because it teaches them that women can only be stimulated by the dark and mysterious abuse of a man.” I wasn’t exactly sure how he came to that conclusion from a stupid romance novel, especially when he never read it in the first place.
After fighting it for months, I finally gave in when it became the go-to topic of conversationat work. My boss and coworker spoke of the twisted love story like it was happening to their closest friends. It was everywhere I turned so, I just had to see what the fuss was about. After finish- ing the first book, it all made sense.
I specifically remember being less than 10 pages in and already loathing the protagonist. I knew I had a rough road ahead of me because I was less than three percent through the book and already wanted to slap the main character across the face.
I quickly came to the conclusion that Anastasia Steele represented everything wrong with women in America: she is feeble, insecure and is soon at the whim of a man who wants to beat the crap out of her to get off. This brings us to the devil incarnate, Christian Grey — a man so destroyed by his past that the only way he can find sexual satisfaction is to land contracts with women who agree to be his personal slaves. In order to satisfy a deeply disturbing sexual abnormality, he gets to physically demolish women whenever he pleases.
Before all of you who are in love with these books jump on me, let me be my own devil’s advocate. I’ll hand it to E.L. James for creating a character so inexplicably and devilishly alluring as Christian. He’s got a mysterious and sexy thing going on. Just hearing the way James describes him from scene to scene was enough to keep me interested.
It can also be argued that Anastasia isn’t any of those negative words I described and, while I couldn’t bring myself to finish the series, I’ve heard she goes a long way in changing Christian’s attitudes. This is great for the two of them, but when you break it down, the first book is the journey of a frail young woman lusting over a man who is so dark and twisty. It becomes pa- thetic and sad after the first 50 pages.
Character flaws aside, I have a real problem with the way James writes. She’s from England and writes dialogue how she thinks Americans talk, much like Tomak and Bellgarde from “Family Guy.” At one point, a character in “Fifty Shades of Grey” asks another what “they like to do to chill out.”
Aside from the awkward grammar, the plot of The New York Times Bestseller started off as “Twilight” fan fiction, which just made me roll my eyes so hard I probably just shifted the earth’s gravitational pull. James hit it big though and I’m not sure if it can be attributed to her storytelling or the high number of sexually unsatisfied housewives in the U.S., but the topic of sadomasochism has never been hotter.
Thankfully, the most exposure I’ve been given into the world of whips and riding crops was one of my older cousin’s birthday parties where a woman in all leather walked in carrying a leash attached to a spiked collar around a grown man’s neck. He introduced himself as “Pet Jason.” Truly disturbed, I chose another spot at the table.
James has shown the U.S. a new degrading trend and has justified it by being on the tip of everyone’s tongue.
After I finished the first book, I felt dirty and uncomfortable.
I couldn’t believe so much hype surrounded this book and I spent a few days trying to figure out why it was so critically acclaimed. I sincerely hope this is a passing fad, even though I’m still really interested to see who gets cast as Christian in the movie version (which I just cannot imagine being released without having NC-17 rating), I have simply begun referring to the series as “Fifty Shades of Gurl, Please.”