50 Shades of Snobbery

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’ll be aware of the latest blockbuster buzz in movies – 50 Shades of Grey. I haven’t read any of the books and I don’t plan on making a trip to the cinema. Apart from the fact that I really dislike the cinema experience at the moment (though I am looking forward to trying out the 4DX) I really don’t have the need to make an effort to see it. That being said, after all this hype, I probably will watch it once it appears on the tv (most likely for next Valentine’s Sky Premiere) just out of pure intrigue.

There’s been a huge amount of hype and chat about this movie. People (all 5 of them) picketing the London Premiere to point out that Christian Grey, the male lead, is a domestic abuser. People deciding who they will go and see the movie with, whether it be a loved one, a group of girl friends or on their own. People discussing whether they liked the movies or books or whether they were a step too far. A LOT of chat. Radio, TV, print.

It got me to thinking for what reason I have something against these books or the film. Sure, I feel a little uncomfortable with the subject matter, but not because I’m a prude. I have no problem with two consenting adults doing whatever they like in the privacy of their own bedroom, in fiction or reality. I wondered how I could have such a strong negative opinion of something I haven’t read or seen, but saying that I know I wouldn’t enjoy watching a pubic beheading without needing to see one in order to decide.

I think it boils down to that fact that I’m a book and movie snob. I have an issue with the fact that it’s really just bad writing, and from what I have heard in reviews of the movie it’s also bad screenwriting. 50 Shades is doing for people’s opinion on sex as The Da Vinci Code did for people’s intelligence. I strongly believe that Dan Brown’s books helped those who were less scholarly to feel more so. And in this rationale, EL James has made women (and probably men) feel naughty, empowered and less boring in the bedroom. It’s made it okay for people to read, and discuss erotica in public and not feel grimy or sordid. For that EL James should be applauded. There are plenty of books that err on the hot side of raunchy, but people would rather keep those strictly to their kindles where no one can tell what they’re reading. But 50 Shades was seen being read poolside all around the world (as was The Da Vinci Code, incidentally).

I’m reminded of the feeling I got when I went to see Avenue Q a few years back. When I came out of the theatre I was disappointed. People around me had belly ached to the puppets singing about porn, whereas I thought the whole thing was unfunny, childish and just not extreme enough. It was like your prudish [insert family member here] saying ‘crap’ in a sentence and then looking at you like they’ve just said the naughtiest word ever. Cringe.

And that’s it, it’s all a little cringe. Ann Summers’ mannequins in submissive positions with fuzzy handcuffs dripping from their wrists. Leave it out.

I’d like to touch on the domestic violence issue, lightly, again having not read or seen 50 Shades. This subject has obviously pushed buttons and there are two very separate schools of thought on this. One side state that 50 Shades promotes domestic violence, abuse and stalking. The other side protest that women (and men) should be a little looser and realise that when two people consent to this kind of thing, as is the case in the story I understand, that it’s up to them what they do. People like this, and if you don’t then don’t do it. My opinion is people can do what they like, but what we need to remember is that 50 Shades of Grey was written as a Twilight fan fiction. I’ve read (and written) plenty of fan fiction in my time. Some is wonderful, some is truly drivel. I understand that this particular book is written extremely badly. I’ve read snippets, out of context granted, and it’s truly awful. So when EL James defends her book and states that this isn’t domestic abuse, but two consenting adults enjoying an alternative sex life, we need to remember that she also believes she’s penned a novel worth reading and well written. What I’m getting at is that she might have written it so badly that it does boil down to domestic abuse. She might have been so off the mark that it turned into bad taste. And also, remember that the original character was Edward Cullen, a stone cold killer vampire who can enter a room unheard and unseen and with the strength of a really strong thing.

And after all this, yes I’m intrigued, but I don’t think enough to go and read the books or see the film. I have a lot of way more sexually charged books on my book shelf and if I want to read something like that I’ll choose something I consider to be written well, thank you very much. (Incidentally, all my Dan Brown books were donated to the public library and I only read 1 and 3/4 of them….. yes I stopped about 15 pages short of the second book to make a sandwich and never went back.)

So, obviously I can’t make up my mind as I haven’t experience the subject matter. But I’m fine with that. I’m fine with the befuddled looks I get from women who can’t understand why I answer ‘No’ to ‘Haven’t you read 50 Shades?’ – I’ve had this look from people for years now. (It’s the same look I get when I tell them I haven’t seen Magic Mike either.) I’m just a book snob and a movie snob and that’s the way I am, just like Christian Grey is, apparently, just a hot weirdo in a suit.

I have read the odd review of the movie, and this one stuck out, so if you’re so inclined then go ahead and look at it. I’ve yet to read a positive review, but to be fair I doubt I’ve really been looking for one. If you’ve read one then go ahead and paste a link in the comments. If you’ve seen the film and or read the book I’d love to hear your opinion.

This whole saga intrigues me, can you tell?

2 thoughts on “50 Shades of Snobbery

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