The Problem with 50 Shades of Grey
I have finally put my finger on my whole problem with the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy,* and it is best explained with two songs that coincidentally run back-to-back on the mix CD I made for the twins for our last beach trip. In the interest of giving helpful criticism, perhaps this will aid EL James in constructing better books in the future, but may also help you to decide whether or not you want to read these books if you haven’t started yet because I really think the world comes down to two types of people: those who are still happy to listen to Gotye, and those who liked “Somebody That I Used to Know” the first ten times but the song has worn thin. Those who are still groovin’ on Gotye may really enjoy this series, and those who have moved on to other summer songs may want to skip all 50 Shades including the grey ones.
I want to preface this by saying that I like both songs. I mean, I purchased both songs and placed both on the mix, so I’m not commenting on the worth of either song, but rather, their lasting value and how they illustrated problems with 50 Shades of Grey.
And yeah, am I giving this more thought that perhaps the books are worth? Absolutely. But it’s my summer to fritter away.
So, song #12 on the mix is Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger.”
Adam Levine isn’t really my type, but even I have to admit that he’s sexy in this video. How would EL James describe him? Pants that hang from his hips in that way? He’s confident, he’s obviously physically attractive, and he’s having fun. Beyond that, what he’s saying is sexy:
But when you’re with me
I’ll make you believe
That I’ve got the key
…And you want to steer
But I’m shifting gears
I’ll take it from here
And it goes like this
Take me by the tongue
And I’ll know you
Kiss me ’til you’re drunk
And I’ll show you
All the moves like Jagger
…I don’t need to try to control you
Look into my eyes and I’ll own you
As Anastasia would say, “oh my!” And “holy shit!” And “that’s hot!”
Hells yeah, who doesn’t want to be with someone who is going to take charge. Who isn’t going to try to control me but admits that he’s going to own me regardless because he is going to drive me so fucking crazy that I’m going to want to stick around and go wherever he’s steering because he has the moves like Jagger? This is the bravado that makes many a physically unattractive rock singer look incredibly hot in the right context. Such as Mr. Jagger himself.
The Maroon 5 song is immediately followed by #13, Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know.”
I still like this song, but not nearly as much as I did the first few times I heard it. It’s the type of song that begins to grate after that initial “who is this mysterious, vulnerable man?”, mostly because Gotye comes across as the type of guy who spends a lot of time licking his wounds like the cowardly lion and saying, “why did you do this to me?” He’s not active, he’s passive. Girls do things to him vs. he doing things to girls.
And look at what he’s singing:
You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness
Like resignation to the end, always the end
So when we found that we could not make sense
Well you said that we would still be friends
But I’ll admit that I was glad it was over
But you didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough
No you didn’t have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records and then change your number
I guess that I don’t need that though
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know
Broken doesn’t have long-term sexiness. It’s interesting, and I certainly want to give Gotye a hug. But there’s a reason why relationship advice gurus tell you not to discuss your ex-partners in the first few dates if the subject doesn’t need to come up. It isn’t sexy to think about rejection, even if all of us have our own varying rejection stories. I mean, let’s face it, every single person comes with baggage. But some people tuck that baggage under the table and project confidence, and other people use their vulnerability as their hook. And equally, there are people out there drawn to vulnerability because they love to fix people. You know, like James Wilson and House.
Christian Grey’s whole character, his motivations, his personality all hinge on the fact that he was rejected as a child. His self-hatred fuels him, and that’s interesting, but it isn’t sexy after a while to me. As much as I feel badly for Gotye, want to bash his ex-girlfriend with him (she sounds like a real bitch, sweetie!), and give him a warm sweater to put on after he washes all that paint off his body, when it comes to being turned on, I want someone a little more Maroon 5 telling me that he’s in control and going kiss me until I’m drunk without any self-deprecating moments pointing out how he has been rejected in the past.
I am well aware that this is a case of to-each-their-own. James Wilson would probably be equally attracted to Gotye and Christian (the small detail of his straightness notwithstanding). But for the people who haven’t been able to embrace Christian as desirable, these two songs may explain why — like me — you’re more annoyed by him than attracted.
And as a side note; I didn’t actually know what Gotye was saying until I Googled the lyrics. And damn was I off.
P.S. I am almost done, but I’m still slogging through 50 Shades Freed. I am, if nothing else, dedicated. I also want to add that I am reading a popular physics book at the same time, and Michio Kaku beats out EL James ten to one.