The top of iTunes charts currently looks like this:
1. Thinking Out Loud: Ed Sheeran (no complaints here–have you seen the music video? So touching)
7. Love Me Like You Do (from Fifty Shades of Grey): Ellie Goulding (I will admit, I accidentally purchased this one, but ONLY because I thought it was a different song)
15. Earned It (from Fifty Shades of Grey): The Weeknd
48. I Know You (from Fifty Shades of Grey): Skylar Grey
76. Salted Wound (from Fifty Shades of Grey): Vaults
The movie hasn’t even come out, and yet four of the soundtrack songs are now on iTunes top 100 list?…that is almost more than Taylor Swift. I also heard that building-sized advertisements for this movie went up LAST Valentine’s Day in Hollywood. And remember how upset people were when they found out Christan Bale played the main character? (But, wait, my TMZ research says maybe it’s a different guy now?)
As an avid reader, I will shamelessly admit that I have never ever read Fifty Shades of Grey. I picked it up one time, read three words (She was wet), decided I was TOO immature for it, threw it down, and have never touched one of them ever since. From what I hear, the writing is atrocious, you never find out why Christian Grey feels the need to dominate poor, insecure, meek women, and the plot line is predictable (so, no huge gasp needed when a wrench is thrown in Christian Grey’s way).
So, what is the thrill of reading of reading it if, (a) I am not learning any new words, (b) It is not enhancing my worldview in any way, and (c) I am not going to fall in love with the main character anyways because he is a jerk? It’s become a fad; housewives all over the place giggle and smirk and secretly admit, “Oh, I read it at the pool while the kids were on summer vacation and was SO embarrassed that I tried to cover it up with a towel; I didn’t want anyone to know I was reading it!” It’s like, they feel a sense of catharsis when they admit this “dirty, dirty” secret to you. Hello, do you not notice that you are NOT original and EVERYONE else around you is also trying to cover up their book and they are ALL having the same exact ideas you are?
Fads and pop culture is dominated by our desires; this is why reality television now scours the evening slots: we demand, because that makes money, so producers produce. For a long time, I have been wondering what exactly attracts women to this story. It’s obviously not for the beautiful, lyrical writing style, or the invigorating plot line, or even the hot main character (I mean, hopefully he is described as hot, but in the book, there aren’t even pictures to gawk at). All that I can think of is that, for some reason, American women are drawn to this story, because they somehow identify with the meek, submissive Anastasia; that, in their everyday lives, they either feel they play this role, or they desire to play this role. Like, it would be one thing if she started as a meek, submissive female protagonist, and THEN emerged as a strong, crime-fighting, man-domineering feminist, but from what I hear, she doesn’t, and he controls her for the duration of the trilogy.
Besides the fact that it is a crappy book, I am STAYING AWAY from Fifty Shades of Grey, because I disagree with the message it sends our society about women. It completely reverses everything we have been working towards in terms of equality for the last three decades; although men are not the target audience, we are sending the message to women that THESE are the roles they are supposed to play in society. The attraction sheds a much larger problem in our society. Perhaps it IS that women identify with this role; however, the book, as I understand it, does nothing to empower, to provide a solution to get out of this role, to motivate women to take a stand against this injustice; I don’t like to see women objectified and sexualized, because we have so much more to offer this world than just how we look.
My classes are currently talking about censorship, and that we often feel compelled to censor media, because we want to keep those ideas out of society; if we expose someone to it, they know it exists, but if we shield them, they may never know about it. While I completely support a diverse world view, I also think that sometimes, exposure to ideas is unnecessary. What IS the point of all the blood and guts and violence? How come we have to watch explosives and cars racing into each other? Why DO we need to read about people using chains and whips on each other? I, for one, was astounded when I went to the strip club in Las Vegas; I learned ways that the human body moves that had never crossed my mind before, images that I can never erase from my brain, and I can’t imagine what kind of toxins I would be exposed to by reading the book/watching the movie. No thank you, I would like to preserve my innocence on this one.
As of late, I have been interested in how messages are subtly filtered into our subconscious through the kinds of music we listen to, the types of movies we watch, the books and ideas we expose ourselves to. We pick up on the slightest testaments that reinforce our societal ideologies. I was watching ‘Leave It to Beaver’ last week, and noticed in one part, Ward catches June “spying on the neighbors”: a social construction that women are the keepers of social information, and men are the keepers of political, economic, and world affairs. I was amazed at how subtly these social constructions were in pop culture; a traditionally wholesome and good for the soul type of show. And, it is through these kinds of media that we inconspicuously learn how we are supposed to act, and react, to situations, which is why having a culture obsessed with Fifty Shades of Grey, and showing women in submissive roles, is incredibly dangerous: we are breeding oppression, whether we consciously realize it or not.
If I am ostracized from lunch room conversations regarding the movie, then so be it. I am sitting this one out.