Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Snakes Named Grey

By Meg Curtis, PhD

Fifty Shades of Grey seems strangely familiar, doesn’t it? Where have we heard of a charismatic flatterer? Are we really to believe that E L James’ ingénue impresses a corporate magnate so drastically that he charges all over the country after her? If this is chick lit, then the chicks who read it must want nothing more than flattery—and money.

What do we know about James’ leading chick? She falls headfirst into the exec’s waiting arms. She vomits uncontrollably. She can’t resist his come-ons. Do readers really believe that a young woman would attract an unbearably powerful man—say, like George Clooney—while behaving this way? If George accepts this stumblebum routine, it hasn’t gotten into the press yet.

So, what are we reading here? A story we’ve read before plus sex, lots of sex. In fact, this addition to the traditional tale of country bumpkin meets city salesman only serves to identify the story’s origin. Look no farther than the Garden variety of Eden to find the girl’s neighborhood. Eve couldn’t resist her visitor, either.

The contract which the city slicker expects her to sign supplies a dead give-away; Who asks for a name on a contract which means she belongs to him? The contract in turn supplies the delay which leads readers on, just like the ingénue, to hope she is not dumb enough to sign—while wondering if she’s read Great Expectations, too.

Indeed, what makes this story more than tiresome? Point of view! We’ve heard the story of Genesis so many times we could probably recite it in our sleep, even if we support abortion, gay marriage, and democrat tax increases. But we never heard the wildest dreams of little Evie while under the snake’s spell. And that’s how somebody gets to the money. 

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