Samson Agonistes

Let us talk, for a second, about 50 Shades of Grey. I haven’t read it and I’m not going to. I picked it up in a bookstore, read the first page, and put it down out of fear that someone might see me. It’s funny–the book is an international bestseller, and yet nobody I know will admit they’ve read it. By contrast, I know at least a few Twi-hards. But this book doesn’t even rise to that level. It’s empty wish-fulfillment for women who are too timid or repressed to get their rocks off any other way. I don’t blame them. Women are socialized to feel bad about their sexuality. We live in a world in which a rape victim can be blamed for what happened just because she was dressing provocatively and the culprit can be let off with a simple “boys will be boys”. It sucks.

To be fair, I still do maintain that there is something animalistic about the male sex drive. I remember an episode of This American Life in which a transman said that one of the most difficult things about transitioning was dealing with intense and nearly-uncontrollable urges. He would be sitting on the train, notice that the woman across from him, while not particularly attractive, had, let’s say, nice ankles, and find himself unable to turn off all of the pornographic images that flooded his brain. Honestly, I don’t think women know what that’s like, but I do think that they have sex drives all the same and should not be slut-shamed out of pursuing what they want. 50 Shades of Grey, from what I’ve heard, is pretty fucking tame, but it meets a need that so few other books are willing to even aim for. This is a problem. The overwhelming majority of its readers are female. I don’t think it’s too big of a leap to say that most of them are sexually repressed in some way.

Ultimately, I can’t bring myself to hate 50 Shades of Grey. But I definitely hate the culture that makes it the best we can do when it comes to female-oriented kinky erotica (not that I was going to read that shit anyway). Come one, surely there is somebody with talent who likes to write about this shit? The relationship in this one is, evidently, abusive, but what some people don’t realize is that it is possible to have a relationship that explores an imbalance in the power dynamic without being unhealthy. Essentially, you have to understand that it’s all an act. There are plenty of people who are in to S&M and role play who make their partners (or have their partners make them) tie their shoes, serve them hand and foot, and clean the house while dressed in some revealing or nonexistent outfit. You just have to realize that it’s all an act. Real-life men who act like Christian Grey should be avoided. But there is nothing wrong with men who act that way in the bedroom and respectfully outside of it. As with anything, the magic word is consent.

Oh, hello...

Oh, hello…

It’s a shame that I even have to point this out, as there are people far more qualified than I am to discuss female empowerment and sexual liberation. I like mocking things, but I’ll say again that I can barely even work up the energy to make fun of this book. Twilight is stupid, misogynistic, poorly written, and unintentionally hilarious. 50 Shades of Grey is a sub-par knockoff, nothing more, nothing less. So for the time being, I will say no more about it.

I’ve been hearing a lot of criticisms that the script for Gravity lacked subtlety, that the symbolism and Bullock’s character arc were too obvious. I thought it was fine. It was a thrill ride, and certainly a hell of a lot deeper than any other movie of that type that I can name (see: Avatar). It was a remarkable technical achievement and a genuinely moving story about letting go. It prompts all of us to ask what we would do in that situation and who we would want to say goodbye, too. Sandra Bullock, who I’ve never been a big fan of, is really very good, prompting me to wonder if my dislike of her didn’t have more to do with role choice than acting talent (see also: Matthew McConaughey). (On a side note, Bullock was good in Crash. That film has a reputation for being one of the worst films ever to win Best Picture, and while I’ll concede that the script was heavy-handed and laden with coincidence, the acting–even from people I don’t normally like, like Ryan Phillippe–was absolutely stellar. So yeah.)

Love Rifftrax, but they need to stop making fun of good movies. Night of the Living Dead? Seriously? Maybe they think even good movies should be subject to mockery or that it’s just more of a challenge to mock them, but I can’t say I see the value in it. I’ll stick to mocking Twilight, thank you very much.

Those last two thoughts had nothing to do with 50 Shades of Grey, I know.  But I’ve been blogging more than normal lately and I couldn’t figure out where else to fit them in. Maybe my father is right. Maybe I do need to look for a second job. The current one, even if I tripled my hours, would barely be enough to pay the bills. And those loan payments are due very soon. Weird little glitches keep keeping into my life. I was walking to the train station for work this morning when my iPod skipped in the middle of one of my favorite pieces of classical music (and one of the only ones I know). The file isn’t corrupt. It plays fine on my computer. It’s just weird, that’s all.

I don’t have a conclusion here. Maybe I should take up meditation.


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