Monday, February 9, 2015

Mad Monday: Fifty Shades of Frustrated

As the Fifty Shades of Grey movie comes out this weekend, the controversy is swimming on social media. It’s bad, it degrades women, the writing is horrible, how could anything of this poor quality be published? (Just to name a few of the assaults on the book). Now, I am not going to promote the book (even though I read it and was highly entertained), but what I do want to call to your attention is the problem of people critiquing something they have never read. The vast majority of those who poo poo the book and the movie, have never even read the book, and that just gets my goat. When I ask people what they think the book is about, the answers vary, but they are NEVER on the mark.

I belong to a book club where we hash out books every month, ones we wouldn't normally read in order to force ourselves out of our comfortable genres and into (hopefully) an appreciation for other styles of writing and their genres. Most of the time I finish the book, and if I don’t, I feel it is not my place to criticize it, especially if the others in the group really liked it - there has to be a reason right? I respect their opinions completely. And let’s face it, the reason there are so many different genres and writing styles out there is because of just this issue – personal taste. Some people like a good romance, others prefer fantasy, sci-fi, historical fiction, non-fiction, etc. Some women like a little smut with their romance and some are appalled by it. It’s okay – different strokes for different folks, right?

But, bringing it back to book club, we read a classic this past month – A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. This book is extremely graphic with rape scenes and general evil. It’s a hard book to swallow, but it has a great message that manifests itself throughout the book. Good vs. evil and a human’s ability (or inability) to choose between the two. I had to get to the end of the book to really appreciate the way the author teaches us this - but that’s just it – I got to the end of the book. I read the whole thing. I was entitled to my opinion because I finished it. Some didn’t finish, but had plenty to say about how horrible it was and then pushed their views on how skewed the premise was. But when I asked if they knew what the message was, they got it all wrong! How do you argue with someone who never read the book?  Or worse yet, only read the first 10 or so pages that are filled with complete evil? How do you carry on a constructive discussion if they don’t understand the basic, fundamental lesson that lurks within the pages that they refused to read?! You can’t.

I’m not bashing my book club group or the members in it – I love them all. (I love you all!! Really I do!!) However, I do feel very passionate about following through from beginning to end before passing judgment.  This works in other areas as well – it’s not just limited to books and movies. Whether it’s politics, world views or health concerns (the measles vaccine vs. the Autism controversy to name one), we owe it to ourselves and to those around us to educate ourselves before we open our mouths and spit out unreliable bullshit. I don’t talk much about politics because, quite frankly, I would prefer to have a root canal than to read about their preschool level antics. When an election comes, I do my research, make an educated choice and wipe my hands of it. But I don’t complain about someone voted into office if I never voted!  

So, formulate your own opinions. Read the book, watch the movie, research an event or topic, take a bite of food you don’t think you’ll like, vote – educate yourselves. Don’t take another person’s word for it. Education is the best tool we have in promoting healthy opinions. And hey, if you don’t like it after your read, watched, researched, tasted, or voted, then you have a right to your opinion and I will respect that (and so will most everyone else!). BTW, who’s going to see FSOG this weekend? 

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