Friday, 13 February 2015

Why I won't apologise for disliking Fifty Shades of Grey

It's fair to say that Fifty Shades of Grey is everywhere (again!) at the moment, due to the impending release of the film.

There are those who loved the books and those who hated them. I'm in the latter part, though I'll add the disclaimer that I only managed to read 250 pages of the first book before deciding I'd had enough. I even wrote a lot of reviews, but they have been lost now after I deleted my last blog.

It is everyone's right to like whatever they want. Yet it seems that those of us who dislike FSOG aren't allowed to express that dislike without being dismissed as haters who hate. Don't we have as much right to dislike the books as others have to like it, without our opinions being dismissed?

I have friends and family who have read and enjoyed FSOG. I haven't told them they shouldn't have enjoyed the experience. Nor have I looked down on them for enjoying the books. I know they're bright, intelligent women who just enjoyed something I didn't. I may mock the books, but that does not mean I'm mocking those who enjoyed reading them. Or those who may want to go and see the film.

It is possible to separate the subject matter from those who enjoy reading/watching.

So this is not me looking down on FSOG and its fans from some lofty literary viewpoint. I've enjoyed reading and watching more than my fair share of trashy fiction and films. I write in popular genres and books I write are meant to be read in (mostly) one sitting. Two of my favourite films are Con Air and Armageddon!

I disliked what I read of FSOG because it was badly written fanfiction, and the way Christian treated Ana crossed the line into abuse (which is not, I am told, what BDSM relationships are about). As someone who grew up witnessing domestic violence, it was not a comfortable read for me. (and yes, I know domestic violence and BDSM are different things. Sadly E.L. James doesn't realise that). I also dislike the message that if you love a man enough, and put up with his abuse long enough, he'll stop abusing you and love you as you deserve to be loved. This is not how it works, as any victim of domestic abuse will tell you. The more an abused person tries to please the abuser, the less they're able to, which only leads to more abuse. Believe me, I've witnessed it and I saw my mother go from being a bright, funny, beautiful woman to a shadow as she tried to second guess what wouldn't piss my stepfather off on any particular day.

For this reason I won't go to see the film because it will only be more of the same (especially as it's reported that E.L. James wouldn't allow the director to change one little bit).

So to those who love Fifty Shades of Grey, I say, great. I'm glad you enjoyed it and I hope you enjoy the film. But that doesn't mean I have to apologise for saying that I didn't like the book and don't fancy seeing the film.

(Added: A review from Rosie Waterland, who saw the film, thinking it would be one big joke. Spoiler: She came out feeling very differently)

And now for something completely different. The wonderful Victoria Wood and the Ballad of Freda and Barry.

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