Much Ado About Fifty


I’ve restrained myself from reading 50 Shades Trilogy for so long, until the trailer for the first book’s movie adaptation came up on YouTube last year and I thought, while watching it, that the result will have to be great. And, seriously, I’ve restrained myself from writing anything about the books (no reviews, no articles, no nothing other than a little comments on Goodreads), until all people seemed to decide to make such a fuss about Fifty Shades of Grey and turn the Internet choke-full of their ramblings about it now that the feature film will soon hit the big screen in February.

Honestly, people. Why the fuss? Alright, I admit that I liked the books much (okay, lit snobs, now you can either smirk at me or get out of my way), but I just don’t think that we should talk and talk about it and overanalyze everything. Really, people are so making such overreacting comments that:

  1. the book poorly lacks literary merit (it’s a commercial romance novel, what do you expect?)
  2. it contains BDSM lifestyle and erotic, explicit sex scenes… and here I’m wondering why no one’s talking over and over about Tara Sue Me’s books? (yes, I sneaked into my sister’s ebook collection… yes, yes, I know.)
  3. it glorifies women’s secret, dark, sexual fantasies (does anyone read romances, at all?)
  4. it’s a shameful thing to read
  5. ..
  6. ..
  7. ..
  8. all those points above rolled into one.

So, why am I now talking about it here in my blog? You might be wondering what’s happening in my head. First, let me make myself clear: I don’t do romance. I mean, I don’t read romances… a lot. I do read them sometimes (aside from my romance-translating job), but it’s not the happily-ever-after ending that I seek for. In fact, I prefer a sad ending to conclude a story, a cliffhanger at the very least. When I read romances, I mostly seek for escapism. God, I need escapism. And if the story is so much to my liking, then it’ll be an added bonus.

So, when the first book, Fifty Shades of Grey, came out like three or four years ago, it was my sister who was so excited to read it, and became very much fond of it. Seeing her loving the book so much, I was like… “What is it actually about?” And then she told me… no, she talked and talked about it all the time that I got the point: just another fairy tale. So what? I’ve read several romance books at that time so I already understood that those mass market products actually contain a chunk of feminism, if you want to take women’s sexuality into account. But I seriously didn’t get what it was about the book that could drag so many people women into reading it, but I didn’t want to waste my time following the trend, either. The hype’s continued, and I kept avoiding the book. Until last year, when the trailer of the movie adaptation hit YouTube. Out of curiosity, I opened the video site and watched it. For a stunned minute, I thought, “Oh, okay. Looks great. The director must be a genius.” To be honest, the trailer looks so slick and shiny, in my opinion. And then and there, my curiosity got the better of me. I decided that it was time to read the book.

In a nutshell, I did read Fifty Shades of Grey, and its two sequels. And that’s it, I liked them all. I never thought I would. Well, if you just peel off the BDSM thing and the awkwardly written narrative, then you will get some nice, emotionally intense love story. I cannot say that I normally like Cinderella-fairy-tale kind of love story the way 50 Shades are, but there’s something more about the books that makes them so unbearably appealing to me. Perhaps it’s the witty email banter and dialogues, showing the reader that women can be as dangerously smart as they are plain. Or perhaps it’s the way the set of books boosts our morale. Well, I’m not sure about the statistics, but how many women out there who are constantly living in a shell of insecurity, hiding behind cosmetics, plastic surgeries, diets, and yoga just to get called beautiful? The mythically dashing, gorgeous, rich Christian Grey can make the ever-insecure Anastasia Steele feel beautiful and sexy without her having to do anything but staying plain (and smart). This is what 50 Shades do. In fact, generally speaking, this is what romances do: morale boosting. It’s important for us. It’s important for (most) women. If Catherine Anderson or Eloisa James or Sabrina Jeffries or any other romance writer does not get raved about the way E.L. James does, despite their best-selling authors status, then I’ll blame it on the lame promotion. Or the less than attractive title and/or cover. In short, I’d say that 50 Shades Trilogy has just the same quality/value as Jeffries’ A Dangerous Love or Anderson’s Blue Skies. And if people are still shocked or rambling about the erotic sex scenes 50 Shades have, then they should really try Stephanie Laurens (I had a very hard time translating her book, trust me). Or any other erotic romance, for that matter.

So, you see? There’s nothing to fuss about this Fifty thing. There’s no need to overanalyze it. I really think you should stop now, before the Internet explodes.

That’s all my own ramblings. I’m going to stop now, and get back reading Gone Girl.


Banner_OpiniBareng2015-300x187Note: This post is submitted into BBI’s Expectation-themed Opinion for January.

10 thoughts on “Much Ado About Fifty”

  1. Wow, another point of view. Well said, tih. Walaupun ttp ga pngn baca, intinya ga ada yg perlu diributkan kan, hehe..

  2. I read the triology sometime early last year but din’t bother to review them on my blog! But I really liked your review. You brought an entire new perspective to romantic novels! Well Done!

  3. I read the trilogy over my Summer break. Took me long enough to get around to it, but the upcoming movie heightened my curiosity so I took the plunge. I enjoyed them. Truly. Sure it had its moments where I would laugh out loud at some of the expressions Anastasia used, but I was drawn into the story and happily found an escape. The trailers are well put together for the film and I, like many in my town are looking forward to its release. Thank you for such a great review.

  4. Talking about overanalyze, who are they? The ones against 50 shades trilogy?
    Well, just like ka bzee, I prefer not to read this trilogy though I knew the hype back then. I don’t think I want to be enlightened about BDSM. But thanks to you, I got to know there are more than BDSM in this trilogy. Still, my preference is clear and nothing can make up my mind about not going to read this trilogy.
    And it’s a good review. As always! 🙂

    1. hehe, thanks ya Ziy 🙂 yg suka overanalyze tuh para kritikus sastra, plus orang2 yg belum pernah baca romance macem begini. jujur aku emang suka, tapi menurutku trilogy ini sama aja dgn novel2 romance lainnya, jadi agak gerah liat orang terlalu membesar-besarkan. soal BDSM, di sini itu cuma semacam “hiasan” aja sih, coz aku punya buku soal BDSM beneran dan itu lebih “sadis”, hehe.

  5. Nice review! Great to read your thoughts. I read the first book ages ago, just because of the hype. I’m not a romance reader, and that is why I didn’t think is was all that good (for me). But it wasn’t bad! Here in the Netherlands, some people kept saying how bad the book was, but it’s just like the rest of them, with some BDSM.

    The book got people reading who normally don’t read, so that’s really nice. Like my hairdresser and her colleagues, they all read the books. I hope they’re reading other books, too.

    1. Thank you! 🙂 you’re right that the books got people reading while they normally don’t do reading, if only they made it a habit. well, I can understand why some people don’t like this trilogy, I just find many people too exaggerated in their response to it. oh, thank you so much for stopping by 🙂

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