Fifty Shades of Hell Naw


It is very rare that I undertake to write about something I know absolutely nothing about. I’m sure there will be disagreement on that point, so let me clarify; I usually at least read the book in question or about the topic at hand. This time I didn’t let a little thing like that slow me down, so you have been warned.

This time I have to say that I haven’t read the first word in any of the Fifty Shades of Grey novels. Not so much because of literary snobbishness (although I’m sure I have a touch of that too), but mostly because that just isn’t my cup of tea. I don’t enjoy romance novels, bodice-rippers, or sparkly vampire books. Just don’t. So it is doubtful that I will *ever* actually read those books unless I am trapped in the wilderness with the FSOG books and no way to set them on fire.


My exposure to FSOG is almost exclusively limited to what my friends and other people I just randomly encounter out in the world say about the books. I have also read a few critiques of the books and an interesting article by a mental health professional. So clearly I am now a qualified expert, and fully prepared to expound.

I don’t think it worried me so much when the books first came out. Although they were obviously wildly popular, their audience seemed to be limited almost exclusively to women (actual GROWN women) who ordinarily enjoy romance novels, bodice-rippers, and sparkly vampire books. I have absolutely no judgment on that, everybody needs a way to escape…again, just not my cup of tea. Women would tell me about how UNBELIEVABLE they were and how I needed to drop everything and read all three. Usually these were women who really had no idea who I was and had somehow failed to learn of my Local Lesbian Celebrity. And then there were the women who I would see in waiting rooms and restaraunts, intensely reading away while looking all flushed and occasionally glancing about furtively. The commonality they all shared was that they were all grown women who had seen a bit of the world, and at least had some sort of framework to place around the darker themes that run throughout the series.

As time has gone on and they have washed through our culture, however, the books are now being read by a MUCH younger audience. High school kids, both male and female, are now reading the books as the release of the movie adaptation of FSOG is being treated as if it is a cultural watershed moment. If middle schoolers aren’t reading them now, they soon will be. I remember all of the discussions about whether or not Judy Blume‘s Forever was appropriate for young readers. FSOG is a FAR cry from Judy Blume’s Forever. Youngsters DON’T have a framework in which to put the more aberrant, controlling behaviors portrayed in the book. They are less inclined to think a controlling partner is abnormal simply because they have a very limited perspective on what is or isn’t normal. Just by virtue of the fact that they have seen less of life and virtually nothing of romance, they are more susceptible to adopting a model that they see half of America swooning over.

Let’s face it…if this Grey person wasn’t an incredibly good-looking millionaire, his behavior would likely evoke concern. If some guy follows you home from the grocery store, I would imagine that thoughts of passionate love might not be the most dominant in your mind. When that sort of attention isn’t wanted, it certainly doesn’t feel like love.

So for me, the Fifty Shades thing is gonna be a Hell Naw. I’m saving my fangirl freak-out for Harper Lee‘s Go Set a Watchman. I have hopes I won’t need a safety word to read that one.

Peace and Love Yall