So, it’s 6 in the morning, and I just finished reading Fifty Shades of Grey. And I’m drunk.
Before you laugh at me, all I can say is… well, actually, I don’t even know what to say, because it’s that bad. It’s that horrifically awful. And I don’t say that about stuff much. I mean, I read Twilight and I was even able to come up with something at least moderately nice to say about that. Granted, I was sixteen, and I had no idea what an actual relationship was supposed to be like, but I digress. Point of the matter is that fifty shades is the most horrific, fucked-up, horrible book I have ever read, and for fuck’s sake, doesn’t anyone know an abusive relationship when they see one?
The first problem with this horrible work of literature is probably its source material. For those of you that don’t already know, Fifty Shades was originally Twilight fan fiction. Yup, you read that correctly. How this is even legal escapes me, but apparently Meyer has given her blessing. (That might be the most fucked up sentence I’ve ever had to write.) That isn’t the biggest problem with it, though. Oh, not even close.
One of the biggest problems boils down to control. Grey is a controlling asshole. There, I said it. Nothing he says makes any sense. He even tries to limit Anastasia’s hangin’ with her perfectly reasonable male friends. To justify this, he says, and I quote: “It’s not you I don’t trust, it’s him.” Now, if this isn’t a line out of the abusive guy’s handbook, I don’t know what is. And it’s glorifying that image to young, impressionable girls who don’t know any better. Bitch all you want about knowing fiction from reality…but there is no reason to be teaching that message to a fourteen year old, so they can later think it’s Cool and Awesome and Fun when a guy is a controlling asshole. Some of these girls don’t have a good framework for what a healthy relationship looks like, and idolizing an incredibly unhealthy one doesn’t help.
Then there’s all the gratuitous, over-the-top, horribly written sex scenes. I can’t figure out if the author was a virgin or just sucks at writing about sex, or maybe just plain sucks at having it, but it’s bad. Any line starting with “inserts his thumb and turns it around and around” is a bad, bad thing when it comes to sex. Through half the book, I was cringing. Hard. I don’t know who would like half this shit. I mean, I’m sure there’s someone out there that’s into this stuff, but I’m left wondering: Is the author sadly ignorant when it comes to what good sex is like? Did her thirteen year old daughter write this and then she took the credit? I’ll never know for sure.
The biggest problem I have, however, has nothing to do with the book itself. Nay, it has more to do with the profession of authors, agents, and publishing houses that have allowed our markets to be filled with the absolute trash that this type of writing represents. Once upon a time, people read because they were smart. Books had a point, and that point wasn’t “gratuitous sex.” Nowadays, it seems like every popular novel out there is a harlequin-novel-esque rehash of the same tired love triangle. It’s a phenomenon that started in the teen market with books like Twilight, and it’s becoming pervasive.
I’m worried about what may come next, because frankly, I’d like to have a few options left when it comes to solid entertainment. In the world of gaming, we already have dating sims. Sure, having a few of these is alright. In fact, I encourage a few, simply for the reason that no innovation comes without a price, and this genre of game may have been a necessary price in the way of more complex character building. Today, we have videogames with deep storylines, complex characters, and plots interwoven just as they would be in our TV shows and novels. It should stay that way.
The concern is that works like this may be dumbing down the audience so they want–no, they expect–all of their entertainment to appeal to the lowest common denominator, and that is not okay. It is not okay for every single book, TV show, videogame, and movie to appeal to preteen girls and disillusioned housewives. If this trend continues, I sincerely fear for the future of entertainment as a whole. Not only that, but again, it’s pushing the wrong message onto those teenage girls. They learn that a healthy relationship consists of a man who won’t let you hang out with your friends, then beats you with a belt after you tell him no, and you know that? I’m not okay with that.
Money is the main driving force in entertainment. No matter how much an author cares about their work, that work needs to make money in order to be considered a success. If dating sims, implausible romance novels set in the Seattle area, and other trash are the things making the most money, then, well, all we’re going to get is trash.
So stop buying this shit!