50 Shades: Boston or Austin?Posted: August 23, 2012
Have I read it? Oh please. Am I going to blog about it anyway? YES OF COURSE.
I first became aware of Fifty Shades of Grey in much the same way that I become aware of every other pop culture thingamajig: my eternally hip friend Heather posted a link–to either the thing itself or a parordy/spinoff thereof–on Facebook; I noted the post but didn’t click on anything; then four months later I found an allusion to said thing in latest issue of The New Yorker.At this point I always rip off my monocle, leap from my armchair, emphatically slap down the magazine and proclaim, “Egad! I must publish a critical analysis on the subject–post-haste!” Then I put the monocle back on, fire up the typewriter, aaand here we are.
First of all, did you know that this book is actually part of a trilogy? Either did I! “Trilogy”… hmm, why does that sound so familiar? Oh, right. #HUNGERGAMES #HUNGERGAMES #HUNGERGAMES #HUNGERGAMES. Which means we can safely assume the following: no one knows the names of the other two books; at least one of your friends will at some point insist that “it’s actually pretty good”; OMG WHO’S GONNA BE IN THE MOVIE?!!! etc. etc.
Practically as an afterthought with these books, one wonders, “What is it about?” What kind of “edgy” subject matter has all of these mild-mannered, venti-latte-drinking citizens racing over to Barnes & Noble at midnight in their Honda Accords? The Hunger Games captivated the nation with tween-on-tween homicide (and a tiny bit of sex, I think. But mostly murder). With Fifty Shades, it’s a little undergrad BDSM:
The books, which were released in the last year, center on the lives (and affection for whips, chains and handcuffs) of Christian Grey, a rich, handsome tycoon, and Anastasia Steele, an innocent college student, who enter into a dominant-submissive relationship. The narrative is built on the purple prose typical of pulp novels, with lines like, “My inner goddess is doing the dance of the seven veils.” [NYT]
Wow, that sounds like a lesbian pickup line from 1975. (Correct me if I’m wrong, Bondy.) But perhaps the most hilarious part about Fifty Shades is that moms love it. Yes, MOMS. Stuff Moms Like–hm, let’s think. Fabric softener, complete breakfasts, air fresheners. And now–erotic novels. “Moms like you choose soft porn!”
But wait a minute. This is far more consequential than Downy versus The Other Brand. As the Times would have it, Fifty Shades is turning mom worlds upside down and causing an epidemic of mom-sistential crises:
“Fifty Shades of Grey,” an erotic novel by an obscure author that has been described as “Mommy porn” and “Twilight” for grown-ups, has electrified women across the country, who have spread the word like gospel on Facebook pages, at school functions and in spin classes.
See? This is why moms* and the internet DO NOT mix!
(Not-so-)Eager to find out whether my own mother had been “set abuzz” yet, I (reluctantly) emailed her about the book. Her response:
Haven’t heard of “50 Shades of Grey”, Val.
…Guess I could recharge my Kindle battery and see what it’s all about, though.
Nooo! What have I done?!
Anyway. I knew that if anyone’s mom had read Fifty Shades, it would be Heather’s mom, Big Al–and I was dying to know what she had to say.
Me: Did it change your life???
Big Al: Oh please.
Hmm. Area Mom Underwhelmed By Super-Sexy Mega-Novel. But that’s still not as bad as the twentysomething demographic, members of which are downright hating on Fifty Shades.
Alex: UGH GOD NO! i refuse!!!!
Heather: Never heard of it.
OK, #HUNGERGAMES this is not. I googled “why twentysomethings hate 50 shades of grey” and found an article entitled “Why Twentysomethings Hate 50 Shades of Grey”. Bingo!
Twentysomethings hate fifty shades of grey—and, by that, I mean uncertainty. I know this because I spend most of my days talking with people in their 20s about things that aren’t black and white. Is my career choice right? Is my boyfriend going to break up with me? Should I move to Boston or Austin?
Damn you, Psychology Today--you and your sneaky titles. On the other hand, maybe this article does hit on something. Maybe the whole reason we hate Fifty Shades of Grey is that The Life of a Twentysomething IS Fifty Shades of Grey. And I’m not talking about BDSM grey–I’m talking about “OMG should I move to Boston or Austin you guys!!! (8 Likes, 14 Comments)” grey. The slouch continues.
OK. By this point you’ve either secretly ordered the book used for $0.03 from Amazon.com (of course), or you NEVER want to read it–or another word about it–EVER AGAIN. EVER!!!!11!!!1!!!
Hair Apparent. Where pop culture things go to die. (TM)
*Except Big Al.