Monday, April 9, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey

You may have heard about Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James. It's making the rounds in America right about now. It's been labelled 'Mommy Porn' and is considered to be erotica that leans more to the kinky side (as it involves BDSM). It was originally published on the Internet as fanfiction starring Edward Cullen and Bella Swann, then was changed to a book about Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey.

The book itself is poorly written, bizarre and the characters (especially Anastasia) are often bland and boring. It does, however, have very steamy sex scenes. It's not the sex scenes in and of themselves that have me thinking, though- it's the semi-brutality and focus on pain and punishment that's expressed in the book. The backdrop to this is that Christian Grey is screwed up because he grew up in an abusive family, and somehow this predilection is a means of therapy for him.

Like a typical Beauty & the Beast story, Anastasia is going to be able to save Christian (we don't see it in this book but there are two more books in the trilogy). What bothered me in the book was how much of the sex was about sheer animality rather than love. I was really moved by the parts where Christian did forfeit control/ go outside of his comfort zone in order to try to give love to Anastasia and help give her the 'more' she was asking for. I like Christian better than Anastasia, but I don't like how domineering and controlling he is. I think he is just on the side of abusive personality himself.

I was trying to figure out why so many people like the book. I know the reason that I (semi) liked it had to do with the character of Christian. I am a sucker for people who are in difficult places undergoing difficult things and who are trying to go outside of their comfort zone in order to be better (in this case, for him to love Anastasia in a way that doesn't mean he also hurts her). Some of the sex scenes were hot but some of them just were too brutal/ animalistic for me. I see sex as an outlet for love, not an outlet for animality. The book as a whole actually made me reflect on what Jewish values of sex are vs. secular values. And I think that there *could* be Jews who would do the stuff that Christian and Anastasia did in a loving way, but it was clear that he was doing it in a punishing/ domineering/ controlling/ possessive/ scary way.

I like the idea of a passionate person who can be controlling or possessive, but not in the way that the characters of Edward Cullen or Christian Grey are. I really like the love story between Chuck Bass and Blair Waldorf on 'Gossip Girl.' I think they are good examples of this kind of relationship. Chuck learns from his mistakes, is aware of when he goes too far and in the end wants the best thing for Blair (which is why he pays for her dowry). His focus is on what is good for her which is why he even lets her leave him for a relationship with Dan Humphrey. And I think that shows real love more than the whole Christian consistently making Anastasia come back to him does.


Anonymous said...

Have heard of the book. Thought it was a horror story! Maybe I'm confusing it with something else. --YCF

Robyn said...

I read all three books, as did most of my friends. i found anastasia to be the controlling one. i think that ppl are fascinated with these books bc they are bored and dont feel love in their lives. yeah i got turned on a few times. but the whole thing is completely unrealistic. no one has sex that often and no one orgasms that much.