Like most of the Internet, I recently watched the trailer for 50 Shades of Grey. I read the book, too, back when it first came out and some women I worked with pressed it on me. “You’ll love it,” they promised.
I did not love it. I didn’t even like it. Aside from one kind of hot scene that quickly devolved into a silly parody of anything resembling actual sex or BDSM, 50 Shades of Grey was a disturbing portrayal of an abusive relationship, the likes of which are aspired to by what is evidently a whole fuckload of women. But I know you know how I feel about the book, so let’s stick to why Facebook seized with fervor over the 50 Shades of Grey trailer the other day.
Because I can’t figure it out.
That trailer is boring as hell. I could accurately liken it to disappointing sex. There’s all this anticipation and buildup that by itself isn’t even too interesting, but there’s a part of your brain (or, um, other area) that thinks “this has to get better, I bet this gets so much fucking better.” And then…it doesn’t get better. It culminates in maybe 4 seconds of what the producers (and the author, and the legions of dried up fans) determined was a risqué sequence of shots including a blindfold, a wrist pulling against a restraint, and a riding crop slithering down the nape of a naked woman’s neck. Which is ultimately pretty unfulfilling, and all that promise just leaks away like a retreating blush.
Um. How titillating.
Maybe I’ve become desensitized by the amount of porn on the Internet. I am willing to concede that I hardly even notice the hardcore gifs that roll through my Tumblr dashboard every day. It’s just stuff that some people post sometimes alongside photos of pissed off cats and derpy dogs. Even if I do register what I’m seeing, I’m rarely ever put off by it, and I guess it’s debatable if this is because I’m a grown-ass lady who understands about sex and consent and fictionalized images that get people off, or if it’s because I’m a corrupted weirdo whose brain is too polluted to be at all stimulated in anything about that very vanilla 50 Shades of Grey trailer. But I’m guessing it’s the former.
I am clearly in the minority, though, at least when it comes to people I know on Facebook, although this isn’t too surprising because most of those people’s understanding of the power of the Internet is limited to Pinterest. And when you think about it, 50 Shades of Grey is really the Pinterest of sex.
So you have Pinterest, this amorphous cloudlike thing that serves as a way for anyone to build what they believe should be their life. It’s their dream life, basically, all of these things they wish for but maybe don’t have the ability to acquire or talent to achieve. And there’s nothing wrong with that; I have a Pinterest, and I use it to collect images of design. I try to keep it limited to design that I feel is possible for a non-millionaire, though, and I keep it limited to a few basic, easily organized categories. And of course, there are people using Pinterest for other legitimate reasons; there are people who can actually cook and use it for recipes, there are people who can actually build and use it for DIY, there are people who just like certain images and want to keep them in a single, accessible place. I get it. But the majority of Pinterest users aren’t using Pinterest in this way. Instead, they’re crowding every half-cocked cupcake concept or wedding backdrop or abandoned-before-it-ever-began workout plan into a disorganized, ombre-shaded hellscape that’s really no different from a documents file or bookmark list. And all of these things that users were passionate about for the millisecond it took to click “Pin It!” are relegated to this bland limbo where they wait to maybe be viewed again with waning interest or mounting dissatisfaction that they never happened. They never went anywhere. It’s very anticlimactic, so to speak, which is exactly what 50 Shades of Grey is all about.
The protagonist is a dull, spiritless character with no discernible appeal who somehow attracts an archetypal male whose only appeal is that he is an archetypal male. For all the talk about how Anastasia is an example of pointless female characterization, I’d venture to say that Christian is just as poor of an example of men. Neither contains any interesting traits. There is no reason to care about what happens to them. And what happens to them is a lot of formulaic fucking, because despite what Christian Grey claims (“my desires are…unconventional”), even the “dirty” parts of 50 Shades of Grey are entirely boring for anyone who’s ever been properly fucked or watched other people doing it online.
As Pinterest depicts lives not led, 50 Shades of Grey depicts fucking not fucked. Neither is particularly compelling or worth pursuing, but both have become bloated monsters of fickle interests held by bored women who have forgotten how to viscerally enjoy themselves.