Fifty Shades of Grey hit our local bookstores a couple of weeks before Mothers Day, 8th of May 2011. The trilogy was everywhere and the main-stream stores displayed huge pallets of the book in centre view before the front doors for all to see. Local radio stations were adding to the hype and reading partial extracts, with their witty repartee jokes and comments to satisfy listeners. It was inescapable to completely avoid any advertising or marketing over the book.
If the marketing hype wasn’t enough to go on, the crowds of browsing shoppers that gathered around these displays were another indicator of it’s popularity. To the untrained or willing husband, the purchase of this book for a Mother’s Day was a complete no-brainer. In fact, failure to do so would almost certainly lead to questions of “why the hell not?” based upon the evidence of popularity.
One Year later and the fallout of 50SOG can been clearly seen through Google trends with a peak interest in July 2011 upon it’s release followed by a more recent peak in September 2013 when the movie was announced.
However, like any “popular thing” in our culture; the critics’ soon followed with claims of unwholesome relationships and the negative effects of subjecting women as depicted within the book. These comments came fast and hard, despite the overwhelming evidence and fact’s regarding the culture of BDSM, spanking, and sexual kinkiness having been around for decades beforehand.
This wasn’t exactly new material within a novel. And one could argue that more harm could be found within a modern day gun or weapons manual. In fact; there turns out to be quite a reasonable choice for cheap (and free) books on ‘how to build a gun’ through online booksellers, which I contend is more harmful than ‘fifty’ could ever be. In this age of terrorism I know exactly whom I’d rather be confronted by.
Interesting though, is the seemingly connected trends between “50 Shades” and “BDSM”; with both topics displaying similar peaks in interest around July 12′ and August 13′, with one distinct difference: BDSM has continued to trend upward slightly towards levels seen back in 2007-2009.
Is it possible that BDSM is becoming more en-vogue? Or maybe the population is becoming more attuned and aware of it’s technique/s? If so, this is a good thing right? The critics always claimed that it would lead to sexual corruption and perversion with a great risk of people being harmed. At least ‘education’ would help to reduce any risk of personal harm to those who are trying this for the first time.
My first education of this topic arrived back in 1995 through “Love, Sex, and Intimacy” by Nitya Lacroix. It’s one of my most treasured, and most dog-eared, books upon my shelf and promotes sexual fulfilment in a loving relationship. I recall the day my parents spotted it in my room and being grateful it wan’t porn.
Porn, after-all, is different, and continues to rise in popularity at a steady rate as seen below.There is a minor increase in the trend during July and December 12′, but the overall trend has doubled since 2009 and forecasted to continue upward. Peak trends are more aligned to news about condoms or articles about porn and politics. There certainly isn’t significant downward spiral in morality evident as chastised by book critics against the James trilogy.
Porn certainly seems to be a more prevalent trend now and almost certainly in the future. Nobody can be blamed, perhaps except for ourselves, but the impact of the media in today’s society certainly doesn’t water down it’s impact to younger generations.
Younger generations who are bombarded by music and encouraged to dance to increasingly more explicit lyrics each season. You’ve no idea what it’s like to have a seven-year-old son point to a teenage girl in a shopping mall, who happened to have her pockets hanging over her thighs from under her jean shorts, and he asks: “Daddy, is she a bitch?“
I survived the initial fallout from Fifty Shades of Grey, but I’m certain another bout of its branding will arrive next year when the movie comes out. And maybe again if they create a 3-D version of the film for BluRay. (One can only hope ;)) Without any doubt another book, or books, will be published in the future that will generate more criticism and further fallout.
The thing that puzzles me is how those who protest with their placards against such objectionable material seem to be unaware of the dust kicked up off their feet from the popular music lyrics, gun manuals, and images of war from societies abroad who are fighting for their freedom against dictatorship governments.