The other night I was listening to love songs and like most things in life, it got me thinking about Fifty Shades of Grey, specifically what is it about Fifty Shades of Grey that makes the connection soooo strong. After all, the critics say it’s poorly written, unoriginal, promotes abuse and I’m sure I’m missing a whole bunch more complaints. Yet, millions of people from all genders, ages and from across the world have fallen in love with it. While I can’t speak for everyone, I think my experience will help convey the connection that defies the critics.
I think two things are important to mention at the start of this post. First, critics have lost their pull. There was a time when it meant a great deal, but today with the internet word can spread faster and farther without them. They still have a role, but social media has taken on a big part of the role of critic. Also, I’ve been in love 3 times, each guy and each story is different. But they all have that warm and fuzzy feeling of love when I think of the time.
I’ve read a lot of romance novels and when I say a lot, I mean I’ve been known to read one in a day. Obviously I enjoy them, and I usually do find something in them to connect with. And maybe a little something to obsess about too, but usually not for too long. Fifty Shades was different though. Nope, I don’t normally start websites and podcast about the books I read.
I’ve done a lot of interviews and I’ve had a Lot of discussions about Fifty Shades and what makes it different. While elements of the story are more unique than others, the story does follow a classical romance story plot line.
Some would argue that the BDSM separates the story from others. The story is for many people it is the first exposure to BDSM and that certainly can create a strong attachment. I believe it contributes, since it started conversations which ultimately lead to converting friends to read the series. But I don’t think it’s a direct cause of such a worldwide phenomenon.
What I think separates this from other stories is E L James’ writing, her descriptive writing pulls you into the story, she makes you curious. She transports you to another time and place and makes it feel real, she creates a connection that even some of the greatest writers struggle to do. As you’re there in the moment, you feel the tension between Christian and Ana. You root for them, even when a rational part of your brain might not understand why or necessarily think they should be together. The reveal of the plot makes you turn each page eager to see what the story is truly about.
Just when you think things won’t work, E L James finds a way to make it work. When you think it will work, she adds new roadblocks. The characters are real. We’ve all had our inner voices questioning ourselves one minute and cheering us on the next minute. We’ve all over analyzed a situation and made up stories about what is happening. Erika added human vulnerability, ones that even if we can’t identify with, we can empathize with. We might not approve of everything in the story, but we understand how it can happen. In the end we identify with the confusing feelings of love that Ana and Christian share. We’ve all been there at some point.
Haven’t we all wanted to think we can save someone? Even when we know it rarely works out, we like the idea of it. Isn’t it a wonderful fantasy that we can be the center of someone’s universe and change the way they think? That’s the wonderful world that Erika transports us to, where we are the center of someone’s universe and even though there are issues, we actually work through them and the world feels better for it.
What makes Fifty Shades of Grey so special to you?