Thursday, March 12, 2015

Book Rewind: 50 Shades of Grey

50 Shades of Grey
by E.L. James


When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.
Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

This book is intended for mature audiences.

Time to Rewind

If you haven't already read my review for this book, please head over to this post.

So - it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that I did not like this book, but I could find something of a novel idea in it. I mean, two very different people with obviously different experiences and point of views who fall for each other? This book and its series could have been so much more. The psychological aspect alone! But alas, it was not meant to go that way.

Now the question - why am I "rewinding" a book I did not like? Well, because I watched the movie, of course.

Better question: Why in the world would I see the movie of a book I basically hated? Easy - I was curious. Not about the sex because, heaven knows, I read all about that in this book (and half of the second). No, I was curious to see how Hollywood would change the story to make it seem more appealing to watchers. Granted, it didn't matter what was changed, really, because people enjoyed this book and movie - regardless of it's undertones. 

If I thought reading this book was silly/somewhat of a waste/devoid of actual emotion, watching it was downright cringe-worthy. 

First of all, I watched it by myself. It was the second movie ever watched by my lonesome (the first was The Duff - but that's for another post). I knew my husband wouldn't want to see it and I didn't feel comfortable inviting anyone when I knew...I KNEW...I would ultimately hate the movie.

And boy was I right.

First, the technical. The dialogue sounded even worse when heard aloud. Grey came off as creepy from the get go. Douche-y, even. Steele came off as ignorant/oblivious (she is a college graduate, come on now...). 

Second, the undertones. I do not get squeamish/embarrassed by sex scenes in books or movies. I just don't. Sometimes, if written or portrayed right - they can be very enjoyable. However, this...relationship between Grey and Steele made me feel so uncomfortable from the beginning. There is no respect between man and woman, dom and sub. There is no communication. There is simply: want, take, have. I'm not saying passion can't be like that, but in this situation, it's not passionate, it's abusive. As a relationship (which it obviously isn't because Grey tells Steele and us repeatedly that he just doesn't do that), Grey does not listen to Steele. He knows she's uncomfortable, afraid of hurting, wanting to be close to him, but he does not acknowledge any of it. He sees it, as it is obvious, and continues to the want, take, have. As a BDSM relationship (of which I don't believe this is an example of), Grey as a dom does not respect his sub. Bottom line. He allows his anger to seep through his treatment of Steele. To sum it up - dude has mommy issues. Hey, that's okay! But guess what, not every woman is a representation of the one that hurt you, dude!

And that's where I think - this could have been so much better. If only James would care enough about her characters to allow them to become more than one-dimensional characters. An exploration of trauma and experiences that leads to understanding another person - that would have been great. But instead, we get a man that doesn't listen, a woman who seems oblivious most of the time, and a story that makes these two crash and burn in a bad way.  

So - why am I spending so much brain-power on this book? Because it makes me so angry.

Authors, artists, celebrities, ORDINARY PEOPLE sometimes like to think their actions don't matter. They are simply smaller pieces of a infinite puzzle - how could they matter?

But it does. From the most famous to the seemingly unimportant - actions and words MATTER. 

I don't like censorship. I want people to express themselves. But if you're going to write about something - portray it the way it is. If you want to write about a BDSM lifestyle - research it. Talk to people. GOOGLE IT. Don't gift wrap abuse and call it something else. It's still abuse.

We unfortunately live in a world where women are still fighting to be respected, taken seriously and not hurt/killed/assaulted/raped/abused for simply being women. A story like this...where the man doesn't listen to the woman, where the virginal woman is forced (because if she doesn't join, she doesn't get to be with the person she thinks she loves. That's called being forced) into a world she wasn't sure she wanted to be blurs too many lines and unfortunately too many people take it at face value. 

So, I am spending time thinking about this because it makes me so very angry. I care about everyone. That's right, everyone. And I want people in safe and consensual relationships/situations. Whether that's two church-goers, two gay men, casual daters, a BDSM couple - I don't care. I want people safe. And this book? This movie? It highlights the opposite. It's basically a book where one person is constantly persuaded, encouraged to follow a lifestyle she knows nothing about. Where one person is constantly being followed, messaged, and having life interfered by another person. It's about a person whose wish to be in a relationship is ignored. Grey doesn't care about Steele. He cares about what he wants from her. Now, isn't that a nice precedent?

I'll be getting off my soapbox now and I will no longer be talking about this movie or book (unless I'm asked about it). Feel free to share your thoughts though. Your thoughts are always welcomed - even if you disagree with me. 

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