The question is, “Would I recommend reading or seeing Fifty Shades of Grey?” and my answer is, first of all, I have not read the book, so no, I would not and indeed could not recommend it for that reason alone. I didn’t read it because I wasn’t interested, and I wasn’t interested because I know a few people who had read it and they said it was awful. When I asked them in what way it was awful, they said “Every way.” Asked to elaborate further, they said: “Dumb plot, stupid characters, terrible style. …” It’s that last one that cinched it for me. I have read — and enjoyed — novels with meandering plots and detestable characters, but I cannot and will not abide bad writing. That would be like listening to bad music. Why waste my time?
As for the movie version, which I suppose is coming to theaters near us soon, I can advise against it without even seeing it. The main reason is that most people already spend too much time staring at screens, and whether it’s Facebook or Netflix or the Rave, the “content” thereof is probably mediocre at best and more likely it is nothing but snarky dreck. People who are thinking of seeing “Fifty Shades of Grey” or any other film should find something better to do with their time. If you want to read a story about matters amorous, I would recommend Gabriel García-Márquez’s “Love in the Time of Cholera.” Also, Lent is upon us, and what a great time this would be for a media fast. (You’re welcome for the suggestion.)
At the same time that I recommend against reading the book or seeing the film, I must hasten to add that I wouldn’t judge anyone who did do either one. In the end, it’s just not that big of a deal. We’ve all got to find our own way in life and to figure out what we like, and as best as I can tell that is mostly a trial-and-error process. And besides, within a month of its release, the book and DVD versions of the story will be filling landfills across the world because some other awful book or movie will have supplanted it in the marketplace. I would advise skipping on those, too. You won’t remember the plots, the characters, or the words of any of those stories a year after you have consumed them; you will only, to borrow from Maya Angelou, remember how those things made you feel, and that will be like crap. Yes, that media fast is looking better and better, isn’t it?
Del Doughty, Ph.D., is the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and a Professor of English. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This column reflects the views of the writer only.