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
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
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
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.