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Fifty Shades of Yay!

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  • Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James book cover, Image courtesy of Syndetics, 2016

Leah, Queen's Square | January 23, 2015

At last, the publishing juggernaut is finally making it to the big screen! If this isn’t your type of thing, that’s ok but just to give you an idea of how big the 50 Shades phenomenon is, here are a few quick facts:

In 2012 (just a year after the first book was published), Time named the author E.L. James one of the world’s 100 most influential people.

In 2014, the 50 Shades trilogy reached an incredible milestone: it sold over 100 million copies worldwide.

Here at Idea Exchange, 50 Shades was the most circulated downloadable title in 2014 with 115 circulations.

And people can’t get enough! Read-alike authors like Maya Banks and Sylvia Day have seen their sexy stories snapped up by readers looking for the next big star in erotica. And the “If you like Fifty Shades of Grey” booklist and the “Hot & Spicy” booklist are always hot, hot, hot with readers!

Why are we so obsessed with sexy movies? From Last Tango in Paris to 9 ½ Weeks to the more recent Blue is the Warmest Color and Fifty Shades of Grey, it seems like we’re dying to see what other people do between the sheets (or in cars or elevators...). Are we just voyeurs? Maybe, but with 50 Shades likely to become the most talked about movie of the year, at least we’re not alone. So what are people talking about?

Unusual behaviour?

Would you claim that something 1 in 5 people do is unusual behaviour? Well that’s what the notoriously prudish MPAA proclaimed BDSM is when giving the 50 Shades movie an R rating, in part for “unusual behaviour”.

Clearly they have not read this rather enlightening Smithsonian magazine article because 20 percent of people worldwide admit to enjoying BDSM and using things like blindfolds and bondage tools. When you look at just Americans, that number jumps to a whopping 36% of people (and those are only the ones who will admit it). Frankly, I’m not sure how something that over a third of Americans do can be considered unusual.

Violence towards women?

There’s been some outcry about how the books glorify violence against women, but that seems strange to everyday people who enjoy BDSM play. They know that a good dominant is one who’s concerned about the safety and the comfort of their submissive partner. And partner is the key word here. It’s long amazed me how people can get so hyped up about what consensual adults do in their private lives.

And as Jamie Dornan, who plays Christian, said in a British GQ article: "By the way, if people make such a hoo-hah about the violence against women aspect of it, it's far more common for men to be the submissive." He added, "And it's consensual!"

To be graphic or not to be graphic?

Some people think the sex scenes in the movie are tame and vanilla and some people think they’re the devil’s work. I guess it depends on who you talk to! While one of the reasons for the R rating is graphic nudity, the director herself told Vanity Fair you won’t really see the actual sex. "The mystery would be gone," she says. "You see a lot, but you don't have to see anything graphic."

You know, maybe the movie will be great and maybe it won’t, but I know where I’ll be this Valentine’s Day. Hey, I’ve got to see what all the excitement is about!