Marsha Canham's Blog

August 16, 2012

Scratching my head Fifty Times

Filed under: Caesars Through the Fence — marshacanham @ 2:31 pm

So I was checking out of Costco yesterday and happened to glance over…okay, snoop over…at the contents of the shopping carts on either side of me. On one side was five HUGE cardboard containers of cooking oil which, from past experience of hauling the same thing, indicates the shopper runs a snack bar of some kind.  On the other side, lying on top of the usual flotsam of cheese and towels and bags of chips, were two paperbacks: Fifty Shades of Gray and Fifty Shades Darker. The woman pushing the cart was at least as old as me.. *cough* fifty something *cough*…and I was genuinely tempted to ask if she was buying the books because of all the hype or because she genuinely enjoyed reading books about rich men who get their kicks from smacking women around and calling it love.

I have nothing against the books or the author. Hell, the writing world is full of erotica, soft and hardcore. I’m not about to criticize the author either, she wrote a book, it caught the public eye, she struck gold and more power to her. JK Rowling did the same thing with the Harry Potter books. What does make me scratch my head is the fact that a large majority of the 40 million people who have bought the books are the same ones who have, for years, panned romance novels in general as being “soft core porn trash*. They are the same ones who wouldn’t be caught dead with a romance novel on their coffee table or in their laps while riding a subway train. Yet there they are, in Costco, proudly displaying two books about bondage and discipline, sadism and masochism.

Really? Romances are unrealistic and demean women, but a book about a handsome rich guy who gets his jollies abusing women is okay?

Are these the same people who listen to rap music about a guy beating up his girlfriend, scarring her, then saying it was just a mistake and he’s sorry and it won’t happen again?  DUH????  I caught my granddaughter listing to that crap…not just listening, but singing along and knowing all the damn words. That’s music? That’s our culture?

Another close friend vented this week on the same subjects and, with her permission,  I’ll quote a little of it here:

>>>>This whole 50 shades really aggravates me. It just really bugs me when huge amounts of attention are given to things that really should fade away. Like Snooki and her Jersey cohorts. And the Kardashians. And stupid poorly written books about abusing women but the abuse is okay because the “hero” is gorgeous and wealthy and just needs to be sexually healed because his mommy mistreated him when he was a kid. Yeah, well, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that a large percent of abusers suffered abuse as a kid. But hey, Christian Grey is BEAUTIFUL and SEXY and RICH! So it’s okay! Let’s make a clothing line!<<<

Yes, dear readers, there will soon be a whole line of clothing, from panties and bras to Tshirts and jammies:

Forget carrying it in your purse — now you can keep “Fifty Shades of Grey” where it matters most … near your special lady place … because TMZ has learned, the people behind the book just inked a massive women’s underwear deal.A rep for CopCorp Licensing tells TMZ, three apparel companies have just locked down the FIRST EVER licensing deals with author E.L. James to distribute “Fifty Shades”-themed clothes … from t-shirts and hoodies … to ladies’ pantyhose, underwear, and pajamas.

Seriously? Next to your “special lady place”?  And they pan romance writers for “purple prose”????  But I digress, and the quoted rant from my friend continues….

>>>I find it really disturbing that so many women think this is okay and have elevated this to such an exalted level. It makes me embarrassed to be a woman. And I’m really disgusted about the popular symbols of our country—look at who is “representing” us—the Kardashians and the Jersey Shore and Justin Bieber. Versus England—they have the glorious, classy, fabulous Duchess Kate and Prince William. Even Prince Harry manages to keep naughtiness adorable and classy. Instead we seem to be descending into a nation of hoochie-mamas and shallow Housewives and rap singers who beat up on girls—and the girls as well as the rest of the nation apparently thinking that’s okay (yeah, let’s give a few more Grammy awards to Chris Brown!). Did I tell you about the story I read about when  Justin Bieber met the President Obama? This is how (according to the story) he greeted our president: “What up, dude?” Are you KIDDING ME??? But worse, according to the story, our president, the most powerful man in the free world, answered, “What up, Biebs?” Insert face plant here. Where is the respect?  And why the hell didn’t the president stare down that disrespectful little brat and say, “That is NOT how you greet the President of the United States.” Can you imagine someone greeting the Queen like that?? NO.<<<<

As I said at the outset, I have no comment about the books, I haven’t read them and don’t intend to. I glanced at a few sample pages and that was enough.  Anyone remember pet rocks? They were a world-wide phenomenon back in the 70’s. People paid upwards of $5 and $10 for stones with faces painted on them. Not that I’m comparing books to rocks to faddish clothing lines, but I would hazard to guess in ten years they will all have ended up in the same place.

Just my opinion, of course. I’ve never understood the hype around the Kardashians either. What, exactly, do they do? And why does anyone care????




  1. I agree with you, Marsha. I’ve been reading romances for almost 30 years now and i wouldn’t go close to the Fifty Shades series for nothing. I’ve read some sample of it and it was enough, the theme is demeaning for women, the style is nonexistent and the writing I refuse to comment on it because I don’t want to insult a “writer”. Society has misplaced its values and respect means nothing today, so I am not surprised about the anecdote about Bieber and the US President. As I don’t read about the “famous or infaumous” people I don’t know who the Kardashians are, I even disconnected my cable because I don’t watch TV anymore, I watch only films or TV series that interest me. I read the news on the Internet. It is my way of filtering the information that is out there. Instead of receiving it, I go searching for it. Is it better? I don’t know but at least I try to filter it.


    Comment by Susana — August 16, 2012 @ 3:16 pm | Reply

  2. Well said Marsha!!!

    Comment by Kay Rogers — August 16, 2012 @ 3:26 pm | Reply

  3. I totally…totally agree!!!

    Comment by Brenda — August 16, 2012 @ 4:13 pm | Reply

  4. Marsha,
    You have really struck a chord with me on this one. Thanks for reminding us of how far our culture has slipped. I had a few thoughts to echo your sentiments. On the current President’s casual treatment of his office, I was reminded of a past comparison to Presidents Reagan and Clinton. It was said that Clinton couldn’t keep his pants on in the oval office that Ronald Reagan so respected when he was in it, he wouldn’t take his jacket off. And, as to your granddaughter, I only have this: when my son (who is now 23) was a lad and listening to Hollywood’s animated movies that surreptitiously made hard-working men (like the loggers in Fern Gully) look bad, I began teaching my son how the media misleads people twisting the real facts to their own biases. As he grew up, I continued to do this, pointing out that in Titanic (the movie), they made the priest look like a coward when, in fact, the real historic figure was a hero. As a result, my son now has a strong moral compass and thinks for himself. We can’t leave Hollywood or the media to teach our children values, faith or respect. Reagan had a strong teaching of faith and respect in his childhood. Years later we got a President who actually acted like a leader of the Western world.

    But I digress. Let me say that I find your novels uplifting and inspiring and wish that all readers of fiction understood the quality in romance that is theirs for the taking. Your Scottish trilogy, beginning with THE PRIDE OF LIONS, is one of my all time favorites. Thanks for writing the best of historical romance!


    Comment by Regan — August 16, 2012 @ 4:15 pm | Reply

  5. You are going to be disappointed in me, Marsha. I read 50 Shades of Grey. I will be posting a review after our bookclub meeting. Yes, it is a bookclub book. LOL You should know that the media hype is so bogus. I have hotter books on my bookshelf. When I read 50 Shades I was stunned that it took me back 40 years to the old Harlequin Presents that I read by the dozens. 50 Shades has the same premise, controlling rich guy and passive heroine. Crazy controlling rich guy who wants to control every aspect of the heroine’s life, from what she eats, to how much she exercises, to what she wears, to what she drives. But unlike the old Harlequin’s, this book is self aware. The heroine knows that the hero is unhealthy. Heck the hero knows that he is not healthy. This book challenges the notion that having a rich powerful man take control of your life is a dream come true. Instead, it is obviously a nightmare. I haven’t read the next two books, but I have friends who did. My understanding is the whole series is centered on character development of the hero and heroine. The hero is sick and the heroine has to be healthy enough to demdand that he get better.

    Comment by flip — August 16, 2012 @ 5:15 pm | Reply

  6. Well said, Marsha, and I totally agree. I will never understand why some things – and based on flip’s comments above, something that is based on bogus hype – catch on like wildfire and just keep spreading. But a clothing line, too? Give us a break!

    Comment by JILLMETCALF — August 16, 2012 @ 5:41 pm | Reply

  7. I went to the dentist yesterday, and the hygienist, who knows I’m a writer, asked, “Have you read 50 Shades of Gray?” I read the book because I want to keep up with what everyone is reading. I told her there is plenty of erotica available without the SM/BD, and I wouldn’t be reading the next two books. The series does provide for healing, if it can be called that, but I don’t care to go along for the ride.

    Comment by Phoebe Conn — August 16, 2012 @ 5:49 pm | Reply

  8. Thank you for blogging about this, Marsha. You already know I agree with you 100% 🙂 It really saddens me that so much focus (and thereby reward) is given to bad behavior in our society. There was a time when such rudeness was unacceptable and those who chose to act that way were shunned. Those times are apparently gone and I don’t think our society is better for it. The Kardashians are multi millionaires due to a sex tape. Snooki is a multi millionaire because of drunken, shocking, promiscuity. Why aren’t we exalting people who deserve it–like the men and women in our Armed Forces who are risking (and losing) their lives keeping this country safe (so that people like the above mentioned bad behavorists can continue to make their millions)? Or how about the teachers who educate our kids–most of them for low pay. Or firefighters? Cops? How many millionaires occupy those professions?
    And as for books (or shows or anything for that matter) that in any way glorify abuse of any kind–I’m out. It’s just sad to me that the best selling book of all time centers around a disturbingly abusive relationship–and that a huge percentage of the gazillions of women who have exalted it to that level scoff at romance novels–books that celebrate love.
    They call our books “unrealistic” but here’s what’s unrealistic–that an abuser is going to change from an abuser and become a loving husband, father, and partner.

    Comment by Jacquie D'Alessandro — August 16, 2012 @ 6:03 pm | Reply

  9. I have not read Fifty Shades because I was too busy re-reading the Dragon Tree. I might just to see what the fuss is about. Not sure yet. I totally agree with you about Jersey Shore and the Kardashians. I think there is nothing special about the Kardashians except Bruce Jenner. My 10 year old daughter likes to watch reality TV (Dance Moms, Say Yes to the Dress, Four Wedding, etc.). Sometimes I tell her no because most times it is just people behaving badly and I don’t want her to think she can act that way. It is a very poor example for young children.

    Comment by Juliet — August 16, 2012 @ 6:38 pm | Reply

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