19 March 2015

Do you have to read a book to have an opinion about it?

Not too long ago, I engaged in a rather heated discussion on Facebook about the release of the film Fifty Shades of Grey (FSOG).

I will be honest: I have not read the books and I have not seen the movie. And I have very specific reasons as to why that has been the case.

Part of the "problem" that others saw in the midst of the discussion was that I have an opinion about FSOG but haven't read the books. They took the position that, as a writer and reader, it is unfair and irresponsible for me to judge the books based on the opinions of others (blog posts and articles) and excerpts I've read online.

I didn't really argue the point. Much of the passionate reaction I received was due more to me critiquing (harshly) something they liked rather than an objective argument in favor of the literature.

Yes, it's true that I haven't read the books. However, based on the content of the story and the many, many, many articles (and even a research study) I've read about them, I know that I wouldn't like them. I know they would make me mad.

I don't have to read the books in order to be justified in that opinion.

Along the same lines, I am not a fan of chick lit. I don't have to read every chick lit story to determine whether or not I actually like it (or the genre).

However, FSOG is different. My qualms with the trilogy is not in the construction of the genre or the flat story. There are darker issues as play that make me dislike the author's works.

I know FSOG has been blogged by many, many wonderful bloggers. And I believe the accounts I've read.

But I also know that there are people I know who enjoy the trilogy very much who have histories of domestic violence in their lives. There is a person in my life who complains about a Christian Grey-esque man in her own life in one breath, and romanticizes the trilogy in the next. There is a person in my life who escaped a physically abusive relationship, and believes that Christian Grey is the ideal man.

These women I have always counted as strong, independent, wonderful women simply do not see the ugliness of the books (and film). They believe the romanticized media opinions that attempt to gloss over what the book is really about.

So I'm going to do a blog series about FSOG beginning at the end of this month. I will try to be as objective as possible, and record my notes and opinions as I read each of the books and watch the film. I will supplement my opinions with articles, blog posts, and other materials written about the books (and film). And I will present my opinions here for you to take or leave as you will.

I'm not expecting to change anyone's opinions about the trilogy or film. But for my own sanity, I have to do this. As someone who was in a dangerous relationship, I can't simply ignore what these women have said to me about those books.

I hope you will read my account, and, if you feel so inclined, pass it along to anyone you think needs to read it. And to everyone else.

I don't have to read the books to know what I think of them, but if it's evidence these individuals need, then that's what I'll provide.

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