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Charmed sisters

Fifty Shades of Yuck!

With the onset of Valentine's Day this year comes the opening of the Fifty Shades of Grey sequel, Fifty Shades Darker. *sigh* I don't get the popularity of these books at all. I'm not anti-romance novels or anti-erotica. Long before 50 Shades came out, I had been reading romance, erotica, and erotic romances for years. I've been reading romance novels since I was eleven years old, and erotica and erotic romance since I was around eighteen years old. I've read Old Skool romances (as the ladies at "Smart Bitches, Trashy Books" call them) that include the many rapes of heroines with alphole heroes (again, a "Smart Bitches" term meaning a "hero" who is so alpha, he's an asshole.) But none of them bother me quite the way 50 Shades does.

I think a large part of it comes from the popularity of the novels. They just exploded onto the scene after the success Twilight, of which they began life as a fan fic of 50 Shades. But 50 Shades took the absolute worst aspect of Twilight (the romance) and somehow made it worse. Bella and Edward's romance has never been particularly compelling or interesting to me. She has no other interests outside of Edward. We're *told* she has other interests, but we're never shown those other interests. And Edward just comes off as creepy.  Someone made a video called "Then Buffy Staked Edward at the End" that really shows just how creepy that character is. But for some reason, in Twilight, we're supposed to think it's sexy and romantic. *shudders* E.L. James upped the ante on Christian Grey's creepiness. (I will be fair here; I haven't actually read the books. I have no desire to read the books. But I have read plenty of articles about the books about how terrible Christian Grey's behavior is, which makes me glad I never read the books.)

From everything I've been able to gather, Christian Grey stalks Ana, emotionally manipulates her, controls her, and abuses her for his pleasure, with no thought to hers at all. How is that sexy? Or romantic? In any way, shape, or form? I know the argument is that it's just a book. Or it's just supposed to be fantasy, so what's the harm? The problem is that books and the written word do have power. Mein Kampf, The Communist Manifesto, the Constitution, the Bible, the Koran, The Prince, all of these books have had serious influences on humankind, changing the directions the world is going in. Books have always influenced people's opinions, laws, and societal expectations. That's precisely what's been happening with Fifty Shades of Grey. There are women who talk about how Christian Grey is the perfect man. And with the way the media has run off on it, the books can create an expectation of people's behaviors. Because those books are so popular, men and women can assume that Christian and Ana's relationship is something to aspire for. That idea sends cold chills up my spine. I wish I could trust that people are smarter than that, but smart people fall for abusive relationships all the time. *I* fell for an abusive relationship, an almost abusive relationship, and one of my boyfriends turned into a stalker. I know I'm a smart person, but I still ended up vulnerable to it, three times. So I know the dangers of it. Granted, none of those guys were wealthy, and none were as gorgeous as Christian Grey, but looks don't make a monster not a monster, and wealth doesn't excuse rotten behavior either. I think that's the only reason why people excuse his behavior: because he's "hot" and he's rich. That's it. People will excuse a lot out of someone because they're good-looking or wealthy. Especially if they're white and male. o_O It's completely obnoxious.

I get people liking it. People like what they're going to like. What I don't understand is blindly defending it to the death. There is nothing wrong with seeing the problems that might be inherent in what you like. There are terrible movies, books, tv shows, and songs that I utterly adore. It doesn't make them any less terrible, and I know it. I'll defend that I like them, even if I have no idea why beyond, "I had fun watching/reading/listening to it." But I won't say they are the best things ever, because I know they're not. I know what their faults are, and I forgive them their faults. But I don't demand that everyone else agree with me in enjoying them, or say that they are the greatest thing since sliced bread. I wish the fans of Fifty Shades of Grey would do the same.

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