So I’ve just read Fifty Shades of Grey and clearly had been living in a cave as I had absolutely NO idea what I was getting myself into. As the latest book club selection, I just downloaded it to my kindle and started to read. It was only once I got a few chapters in when I realised that the rest of the world were reading and talking about this book and, obviously, why.
Louis Theroux did a great documentary this week on the lives of Porn stars and the decline of the industry. It tackles how much the internet has had an impact on the ‘performers’ and their livelihood. It even featured a young Women’s Studies and Psychology student who does porn ‘because it’s the only industry where women get paid more than men’. She then proudly trotted off to fake an orgasm with a man in his 40’s.
Her mum must be so proud…
Everyone’s going on about how liberating this new notion of Erotic Fiction is. Porn just got all clever and literary. Porn in writing, rather than on screen, has somehow made it sensitive… ‘Hallelujah!’ Everyone’s shouting. Porn for girls! Porn that isn’t degrading or treating women as objects. Something women can enjoy.
I’m sorry, but isn’t Christian Grey (If you haven’t read it, he’s the protagonist and also – where have you been!?) an emotional psychopath, incapable of love who wants to lock up Ana (who is 22, beautiful and a virgin… Really?) in his ‘room of pain’? How is this liberating to women? And why does everyone now fancy Christian Grey?
If he was exactly the same character – mood swings, emotionless, ‘don’t touch me’, stalker, etc, even if he was still good looking – but wasn’t a multi-millionaire, I’d hazard a guess that the reading population of the world would be hugely less interested. Ana would probably be less forthcoming with her virginity if Mr Grey rocked up on a push bike and offered her a backy to a battered old garage with rope swings and chains? That would make him a pervert. It’s much better dealing with sexual depravity if you arrived there by helicopter…
In fact, I’d go as far as to say, if Christian Grey wasn’t rich and Ana wasn’t a graduate, they’d both be doing lie detector tests on The Jeremy Kyle Show. Christian in a shell suit, front teeth missing. Ana with a home dye job, crying ‘he doesn’t trust me, the kid is his!’ Everyone in the audience will be thinking, as you always do with Jezza, ‘What are you doing? You’re boyfriend’s a nutter!’
But redemption seems to be in the shape of a $ and getting whipped for rolling your eyes is fine, as long as the perpetrator has ‘overwhelming good looks’ and a personal driver.
Another thing that most people seem to overlook is that Ana, the virginal academic/victim is quite clearly schizophrenic. Multiple-personality disorder is blatantly referenced throughout the whole book when Ana continuously goes on and on about her ‘inner goddess‘ and her ‘subconscious‘ (one a naked nymph full of sexual drive, the other, vulnerable and sensible wary about getting her heart broken and then her other side which is just a bumbling idiot who falls over all the time).
But the genius behind E.L James’ piece of work here is, no matter how much I wanted to stop… how irritated I got by the unsophisticated writing and that the story full of loop holes… I still read it to the end. It’s a bit like TOWIE . Or a car crash. You know it’s bad, but you can’t help it.
As unbelievable as the characters are, Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele seemed to mirror the real life porn stars of Louis’ documentary. Torn between different personalities, trying to exist in the ‘grey’ (pun fully intended) area between love and sex and neither the book or the documentary paint a particularly happy ending.
But of course Fifty Shades of Grey is the first in the trilogy series. The question is whether I’ll read the others.