50 SHADES OF TWILIGHT

by Nadin Pyatnitsa
The scary and shocking phenomenon of 50 Shades of Grey is yet to be explained. To normal people, that is. It came out of nowhere, like a sucker punch in a fight you shouldn’t even be a part of, and made us question the sanity of the world and society we’re living in. Not only was that book somehow written, which is beyond my understanding to begin with, but it was also published and, weirdly enough, accepted by more people than anyone in their right mind would imagine.
We’re always called a ‘fast food’ nation, regardless of our location and social status. A generation that strives for everything cheap and easy, everything that doesn’t require much effort because we’re too busy to care for the quality of what we consume, be it physical or intellectual food. No wonder here. With the rhythm we live in, quality often has to step back and give room to quantity and accessibility.
It probably won’t be a mistake to compare both Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey, as well as the hype around them, with something like McDonald’s. There’s nothing wrong with McDonald’s, mind you, but it should stay what it is – a cheap and convenient eatery – instead of posing as a restaurant with exquisite and fine cuisine.
Be it an accident or a cold and cruel calculation, but both Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey targeted the biggest chunks of the reading audience there is – dreamy teenagers and bored housewives, giving them all whatever was missing most in their lives. Probably. Sadly, just like with McDonald’s, overindulgence in trash reading is not a good idea.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the very fact that both sagas were written (perhaps by randomly banging one’s fist on the keyboard) and published is one hell of an achievement that, much to my devastation, deserves certain respect. And jealousy, to be completely honest. Like any other kind of literature, they probably deserve their chance for existence. As far away from people who might want to pick them up as possible, in the best case scenario, but whatever.

 

I’ve heard more than once someone saying – “It’s better if people read Twilight than nothing at all,” or “Twilight made the teenagers read again”.

I can’t say I can agree with that. It’s not that everything should necessarily be about high concept, intellectual literature that carries a powerful message across generations. Preferably, but not necessarily. In fact, if someone tries to shove the fact that they’ve read everything written by Dostoyevsky, Dickinson, or Austen, I’d probably want to punch them in the face. There has to be a certain balance.
Just to make it clear, I have no experience to come from, but if, say, my teenage child didn’t like reading and preferred playing video games or running around with a skateboard instead, I’d rather they did that than read something like Twilightthat would give them all kinds of seriously wrong and twisted ideas of what a healthy relationship with a romantic partner should be like. I would much rather they’d stick with comic books or… or coloring books, for crying out loud. How can reading something trashy be better than not reading at all?
In our time and age, it’s not only possible to find suitable books for even the pickiest of readers, it is impossible not to. So why lower your standard “six feet under” and choose something as bad as Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey? We basically came to a point when it is not even a joke to ask your date if they read 50 Shades of Grey, and then never see them again if they say yes.
Wrong reasons to hate Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey:
~ The books are stupid;
~ The writers are stupid;
~ The characters are stupid.
The legit reasons to not be fans of those series:
~ They have un-developed, one dimensional characters. The characters that no sane person would want to associate with, which is basically the very point of every book – to step into the world different from your own and befriend the people you’re reading about.
~ Twilightlessened, if not killed the whole notion of vampires. It turned a centuries-old myth into a joke. Hell, the vampires from that saga live in the woods and sparkle! They are fairies if nothing else. Both Bram Stocker and Vlad the Impaler, the prototype for Count Dracula, must be rolling in their graves still.
~ Twilightbasically states, supports and promotes dependency on and necessity of social approval. There is, apparently, nothing more important in life than to have a boyfriend. And once he dumps you, for whatever reason, it is a decent and solid reason to throw yourself off of the cliff or something, whichever is your personal suicide choice.
~ Both Twilightand 50 Shades of Grey promote submissive and abusive relationship.
~ There is no, absolutely no excuse for forcing someone into any sort of relationship they don’t voluntarily want to be a part of. Child abuse is definitely not anything that can possibly justify the nature of relationship between Christian and Anastasia. And believing that LOVE can possibly change the abusive partner, that it can somehow cure their wounds and chase their wounds away – well, it’s utterly ridiculous. Yet, it is something that keeps hundreds of thousands of women in all kinds of unhealthy relationships. And it should not, under any circumstances, be romanticized in any way!  
~ From what I heard, half the stuff described in 50 Shades of Grey is kinky but hardly safe. Not sure if it’s a good reason to strongly dislike a piece of literature, but imagine all the relationships it must have put a strain on just because one or both parties failed to live up to the ‘standards’ set by the book! Not to mention all the unfortunate cases that must have been fixed in ER or another.
~ According to Twilight, stalking is not only acceptable but “romantic” and all kinds of “sweet”, and thus strongly encourage. Really?  
~ Now, I can’t speak about the dialogue in 50 Shades of Grey but seeing as how it is porn, I would assume not much dialogue in involved whatsoever. As for Twilight, they never speak about anything but (1) Bella wanting to become a vampire so that she could safely have sex with Edward without, you know, being killed in the process, and (2) how much Edward hates himself for being involved with her and how they can’t be together. For 4 books straight. I don’t recall any conversation involving any other topics. Well, not for more than a sentence or two.
~ The whole notion of imprinting is creepy as is. Imprinting on a newborn??!! Seriously, Twilight?! I’m sure it doesn’t even have a legal term because EWWW? Like, how do you even come up with something like that? Okay, Meyer kind of specifies that, in the long run, imprinting basically means something like finding a soul mate and it doesn’t have to necessarily be a romantic thing, but when a guy who was obsessed with the mother for a few years now has a thing for a newborn daughter, would you believe that nothing kinky is involved? I’d rather he imprinted on a chair or something. Because, again, EWWW!
~ While Twilightfinds joy in pedophilia, 50 Shades of Grey openly encourages every imaginable kind of unhealthy, twisted, and I daresay sadistic relationship. It states that violence, abuse, stalking, controlling, threats, aggressor-prey dynamics, eating disorders, rape – to name just a few – are normal. And not only normal but, in fact, preferred and praised as something to strive for.
It is sad, shocking and seriously devastating that even in our day and age, an abusive relationship can be somewhat of a norm. Regardless of our attempts to encourage women to stand up for themselves, take action, end any kind of relationship that deems them as lesser beings, home abuse is still something shameful, something embarrassing that needs to be talked about in hushed voices and kept behind locked doors. There are all sorts of fears keeping women prisoners in their homes, and in their minds. “He’s jealous because he loves me”, “He beats me because he loves me”, “What if I end up being alone?”
Essentially, it took us centuries to acknowledge the right of women to be considered equal to men. It was a long battle and it is yet to be won. So, how is that even possible that after all these years, after all these dreadful experiences of mistreatment, and humiliation, and abuse, we, as society, still accept the literature advocating and supporting abusive relationship? How is it possible that we promote the books that encourage physical and emotional suppression? How is it even remotely normal for a book to declare unworthiness of a human being because of their gender?
Thing is, if we’re lucky, it is a fulfilled and self confident, if bored housewife who will pick up 50 Shades of Grey, not knowing any better, and the worst thing to happen to her would be wanting to add some kink to her life. But how about that legion of uncertain women with self-esteem issues and a victim complex? Hell, they’ll need some serious therapy after reading it! How is that acceptable at all? 
And don’t get me started on all the numerous trees that died just so that people could “enjoy” (I’m not sure it’s actually possible but to each their own) those atrocities of books. I think it was when I saw a 12 year old boy reading 50 Shades of Greythat I kind of lost whatever faith in human race I still had.
Why would anyone in their right mind (right mind are kind of key words) want to turn either of the series into film is so beyond me. I can’t even begin to grasp it.
First of all, there are so many wonderful books out there that could be made into decent, if not great films. But they won’t. Because something like Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey took their place. All the money, the VFX and SFX budgets, time and production costs – it’s all wasted on something without a plot, or a purpose, or any sort of emotional value. How are they going to advertize 50 Shades of Grey anyway? As a first theatrically released porn? And where are they planning on putting the trailers? Before the kids’ movies?
And let’s not forget the involved cast.
It doesn’t seem entirely right to bring Harry Potter here but it does serve as a perfect example seeing as how it’s the closest analogy, time- and audience- wise.
Daniel Radcliffe, 25 years from now, is still going to be ‘the boy who lived’. He might be talented, he might have a long and great and diverse film career ahead of him, but nothing will ever unmake him the guy who was Harry Potter.
Same, for better or for worse, works for Rob Pattinson and Jamie Dornan.
Rob Pattinson (who I personally do not consider attractive in any way, but that’s not really the point now) will always stay the sparkling vampire. He may turn out being crazy talented but being a part of Twilight will hover over him like making him laughable. It’s been a while but he is yet to be taken seriously by the industry.
Now Jamie Dornan… I am yet to understand why would he even accept the role of Christian Grey, a sadistic and not entirely mentally stable character in the film about kinky bondage. A role that will probably ruin his career.

 

When I mentioned that to a friend a while ago, she said – “What career? The guy is in his 30’s and no one ever heard of him before Once Upon A Time”. Well, the future career that is, then. Or a chance for it. Money issues I get but being associated with something like 50 Shades of Grey… I don’t know. I’d be ashamed to put it on my resume. I’d be ashamed to even mention anything of that kind.

I mean it’s not a crime to sign up for a movie that might not be particularly successful in the end. But why sign up for something that is predestined to be a failure? Well, we do not know that for sure, but come on! What else could it possibly be but a mistake?

It’s sad to think that this is what our society came to. 
teamplotbunnies@gmail.com'

Four screenwriters candidly writing about film, television, novels, comic books, video games, and fanfiction.

Comments are closed.