If You’re a Fan of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ Please Seek Counseling

The following is the second half of a insightful article by blogger Matt Welch.  After reading my edited version, you can read his complete blog here.

Fifty Shades of Grey” is symptomatic of a deeper problem, and the problem most definitely deserves our attention. I can tell you this: if my wife expressed any desire whatsoever to go see it, I would be very troubled about the state of our marriage and the condition of her soul (for the record, she hasn’t expressed any interest, and never would, and if she found the book in the house she would probably throw it into the fireplace and laugh maniacally while she danced around its burning carcass).
Many other men will feel these reservations deep down, but still accompany their wives and girlfriends to the movie theater this weekend where, like henpecked schoolboys, they will sit by while their women fantasize about being molested at the hands of a handsome billionaire. Or they will stay home and their spouses and significant others will go with their girlfriends, and come home excited by the thought of being manhandled by a psychopath. Hopefully these men have the guts to make their true feelings abundantly clear.

It’s a sad situation. Sadder, still, for the hypocrisy of it. Most women, no matter how progressive they think they are, would be outraged if their boyfriends or husbands went out to a strip club or an adult movie theater. And if the men in their lives became obsessed with reading about other people’s rape fantasies, I imagine a portion of these women would respond with divorce papers and restraining orders. What’s the difference? Only that the culture has declared a man’s piggish behavior repulsive (which it is), but a woman’s charming and liberating.

That’s not really the point, though. Double standards, marketing ploys, bad literature — these are all peripheral issues. We need to consider, or more specifically fans of “Fifty Shades” need to consider, why anyone would find this kind of story entertaining or enjoyable. If you’ve already Fandangoed your tickets and are eagerly anticipating spending your Friday night wrapped up in a twisted fairy tale of fetishism and sexual abuse, ask yourself: why?

This isn’t a neutral thing. It’s not “just a movie.” It is a movie, sure, but it’s a movie with a very particular plot that could only appeal to you for very particular reasons.
If you go and see a documentary about penguins, it tells me that you like penguins, and you probably like penguins because everyone knows they’re fascinating and delightful. If you go and see a “romance” about a wealthy sadist who leads a young woman into a sex dungeon and rapes her repeatedly, it tells me that you like stories about young women being raped repeatedly by wealthy sadists in sex dungeons. That is not just a matter of taste. It’s a sign of something profound and depraved.

Many of us, men and women alike, are walking around with a void in our souls. Maybe it’s because we come from broken homes; maybe it’s because our fathers didn’t love us; maybe it’s because we weren’t raised with a strong faith; maybe it’s because our moral sensibilities have been numbed by the nonstop consumption of violence and sex; maybe it’s because our porn habits have fundamentally altered our sexual proclivities and caused us to crave that which is disordered and perverted. Maybe it’s a combination of all of these, but it’s definitely something.

What I’m trying to say is that you’re watching”Fifty Shades of Grey” to fill some void or find a temporary reprieve from the loneliness and confusion that generally plagues you. I imagine some well adjusted and emotionally fulfilled women read the book, or part of it, a while ago just out of morbid curiosity, but now that everyone knows the story, only people genuinely interested in and attracted to it will be buying tickets to see it.

I wish those people would seek answers elsewhere. I wish they really would talk to a counselor or their pastor. I wish the movie was never produced. I wish Hollywood wasn’t a moral wasteland populated by gutter-dwelling satanists. I wish the author had revealed her torture fetish to her psychiatrist rather than writing it down in a book for 50 million people to read. I wish many things, but it’s all for nothing.

Fans of the book will call me a prude, and the movie will be a hit, and the sequels will be a hit, and 15 years from now they’ll be making romantic films about cannibalism (Fifty Servings of Grey), and we’ll again be told it’s all a bit of naughty fun.

Collectively, our culture is in free fall. Today’s rock bottom is tomorrow’s good old days. I have no delusions about any of this. But individually, we are not slaves to our society. We do not have to float with the cultural current. We can hold ourselves to a higher standard, and I hope you do. Millions of people will see “Fifty Shades” this weekend. You don’t have to be one of them. You’re smarter than that. You’re better than that. Now prove it.


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