26 July 2012

Book Review Sun..er…Thursday


Clearly if I wait for a Sunday when I can write and publish this post it is never going to happen.   I have been reading a lot of good books lately.  I find that the more I read the less likely I am to find something that I really can’t get into.  I do wonder about that phenomenon, but it does make sense that once you know what you like, it gets easier to identify the good stuff from those little blurbs inside the cover.   

Of course the books I am going to talk about today are a trilogy that I read just to see what the fuss was all about.  Much like the Twilight Series phenomenon, I got fully sucked into the Fifty Shades Trilogy.  Let me start by saying I liked the books.  I liked them in the way that I like all cheesy romance novels.  This is not great literature, the characters are shallow and poorly written, the plot is completely unbelievable…you get the idea.  It is certainly not doing women/feminism any favors either.  None the less, as summer reading goes, it was everything I hoped it would be and more. I get why women everywhere love these books and it is certainly not because of the sex or so-called romance, though those things do require some evaluation.

The book does an interesting job of skirting that line between “romance” as in “bodice-rippers” with lots of steamy sex veiled behind euphemism and true erotica which focuses less on plot and feels free to use a vernacular that would make many blush.   Fifty Shades falls right in between the two, pretty racy, but still maintains some semblance of love-story plot and Anna at least has the discretion to not get too…shall we say “anatomical” about the whole thing.  So yeah, maybe the sex does play a role in why people love this book. 

As for the romance, as unlikely as tale as this is, who doesn’t love the idea that some rich, good-looking guy would sweep you off your feet in a “love-at-first-sight” deal?   As annoying and just plain hopeless and Anna may be, maybe we all want to be the helpless damsel being rescued by our prince charming.  I get it, so we can also say the romance plays a role in the books’ popularity.

Even with the sex and the romance the real clincher here for the demographic is this:

Christian Grey was willing to change for her.

Sure the sex was frequent, enthusiastic and occasionally exotic while the romantic fairytale played out, but at the end of the day we love Mr. Grey because he would change for Anna.  Not only is he rich and hot, but he was actually willing to alter his life for her.  Given that the target demographic is women who look around and see in their partners the same dweebs they picked up out of grad school complete with a mind numbing inability to get their  goddamn socks in the goddamn hamper because do I look like the maid to you……ahhhhhhhhhh!  I think you see my point here.  Mr. Grey could have been anyone, but he was willing to let Anna indulge the stereotypical “woman need” to have a project, a man to “fix.”  Even better, it worked and her reward was money, a housekeeper, great sex and beautiful family.  Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner.

This trilogy, while I would recommend it for some beach reading (on your e-reader so no one need witness your shame) is the anti-feminist female dream come true.   If there is anything that women like Stephanie Meyer and E.L. James can teach us it is that you are nothing without a man and yes, it is always your fault and yeah, you should just shut up and take it because….Hello! Hot and rich, what more do you need? 

That's right.  Around here we can talk about Fifty Shades in the context of feminist rhetoric.  I am a rock-star like that.  Enjoy your reading!

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