So I guess the Fifty Shades of Grey movie is out. The book on which it is based is known to me mostly by the crude joke about smelling your wife’s fingers to know whether she’s reading it. I haven’t read it. Lea thought it was plodding, with little plot.
The erotic novel is, of course, not a new idea. We’ve had them as long as we’ve had novels. I can remember flipping through some of the books my stepsister read and being amazed at both the level of detail and how long it would go on. I can’t recall ever trying to write about a sexual encounter at length, but I bet getting much past a paragraph or so without sounding silly is pretty tough.
I just looked the title up to make sure I had it spelled correctly and was astonished to discover six showtimes every day this week for it at our nicest theater. Apparently it’s every bit the phenomenon the book was/is.
It’s unlikely I’ll read or see it, so I have no firsthand knowledge of it. I think I’ve been able to get the gist, though. And while the libertarian in me is all about leaving adults to do what they consent to doing, it’s depressing that it’s this story that’s such a sensation. We have a woman a half a hair’s-width removed from girlhood who is so devoid of self-respect that she’ll submit to all manner of abuse and manipulation because the guy’s rich. Or do you really think she’d put up with all of the front-end stalking and other creepiness were its perpetrator Franklin, the night manager at the Super Target?
I’m sad this is such a sensation simply because of the “relationship” dynamics. There’s certainly nothing emulable by decent people here. A lot of what gives erotic submission its charge is that the person submitting has power/respect/standing that s/he is deliberately setting aside to enter the situation. Submission entails forfeiture of strength, and Ana (I looked the names up) has no such strength to forfeit. She’s basically a mouse in a cage. I don’t like thinking about a lot of readers and/or moviegoers identifying with either one of these people.
Consider that it might be a much more powerful story, and not nearly so repugnant, if it were the wealthy and successful person submitting to the college student.