Sunday, March 30, 2014

50 Shades – a male perspective

Yes, I'm nearly through Volume II of the “50 Shades of Grey” trilogy and family members have given me more than the usual number of strange looks.  Needless to say the reputation of this trilogy is well known; in case you're amongst the uninformed it is considered in the literary category of erotica which is another way of saying lots of kinky sex.  What may be most striking about this trilogy is that it is written by a woman, likely is most popular with female readers and has risen to a level of acceptance and popularity in mainstream reviews.  So finally, it can officially be proclaimed that when it comes to sex and porn, you ladies can be just as piggy as us guys… oink, oink, my fine ladies!

I was drawn to this trilogy not due to the sex (as some may wrongly have presumed), but rather because I watch the New York Times bestseller list and have a strong curiosity to learn from writers who have achieved this level of success.  I want to know, what contributed to making this book work – is it the subject matter, the style, the plot or often a combination of ingredients.  So what is it about this trilogy that pulled it from the trappings of obscurity to the best seller list?

The forbidden fruit – From the beginnings of time, there has been a draw to the forbidden and being “naughty,” by sampling the forbidden fruit.  My son remarked that his (female) teacher had read this series and described it as her “guilty pleasure.”  It is interesting to note that while many are intrigued by the notion of sampling the forbidden fruit, most want the reassurance that in sampling the forbidden fruit they will not experience negative repercussions from their choice.  This is likely a part of the phenomena of this book – readers are able to nibble at a safe distance.

Relationship – Let’s face it, if a guy had written “50 Shades,” it probably wouldn't have been a trilogy – maybe one book struggling to reach 250 pages.  We “normal” guys don’t want all the chit-chat – just get down to it.  I recall a conversation with a guy friend when I was younger and we had referenced a 3rd friend who had entered a relationship and my friend remarked, “They're so in love, it’s sickening”.  Later, I experienced this firsthand when I rented a room during college to a friend of a friend who was in one of these sickening relationships.  This was during the era of 1 corded telephone in the home (before cell phones) and this guy would literally ride his bike from SUNY Albany where he had spent hours with his girlfriend to my house and immediately be on the phone upon arrival with girlfriend where they would manage to relate all that happened in the 10 minutes that they were separated over the course of 2 hours…no kidding, complete with “pet” names…he called her “Pooper”.  What normal guy has time for all that touchy, feely, psychoanalytical babble?  The reality is that analyzing, processing and dissecting the relationship is important to many of the ladies and so I can clearly see their attraction to this trilogy.  Further, this trilogy introduces the possibility that ladies might even be able to find a guy that communicates (yes, Christian communicates much more than the average bear) and, jackpot, a guy who is willing to negotiate (er, change) over the course of the relationship... yes, communication AND change which gets me to the next ingredient…

Fantasy – No, I don't mean sex fantasy.  Every time I have ever read one of those “what women want” reports at or near the top of the list is security and stability.  When I refer to stability here, I am referring to the stability of shelter, comfort and safety not stability from “drama”.  As fore stated, finding a guy who is willing to communicate and change is already a stretch toward fantasy… now add in a guy who is wealthy beyond imagination and solely devoted to you and... ladies, what do you have?  Instant orgasm… so there you have it ladies, come get your fix from “50 Shades”.  Guys, if you are among the curious feel free, but otherwise this trilogy is likely not for you.