50 Shades of Plastics

Warnings: The Fifty Shades series is extremely sexually explicit and involves BDSM. Because of that, and because they are not exactly well-researched or high-quality literature, I will mention things such as abuse, rape, rape culture, male dominance, sexism, relationship violence, and consensual BDSM. Also, the books began as Twilight fanfic, so I will be mentioning Twilight (which is a major squick for a lot of people just by itself).

My apologies for not posting yesterday.  Better late than never, right?

For those of you who didn’t quite follow the title of this post, it’s a reference to a line in the movie The Graduate.  In case you haven’t seen it, let me sum up: Benjamin Braddock (played by Dustin Hoffman) graduates college.  Having nothing better to do with his time, he has an affair with Mrs. Robinson.  He decides he likes her daughter better and they run off together.  The end.

I first saw this movie with my boyfriend (now husband) and a bunch of our college friends on recommendation of one friend’s mother.  She said it was one of the movies we just had to see.  I have never been able to figure out if this was a generational thing or if we just didn’t happen to like the movie, but the general consensus was that it was about an hour and forty-five minutes of our lives we would never have back.  Just about the only thing I remember (other than the general plot) is the line, “I have one word for you: Plastics.”

Anyway, the whole point of that story is that in Fifty Shades, Ana keeps referring to the woman who initiated Christian into BDSM as “Mrs. Robinson.”  I have concluded that E. L. James has not ever seen that movie, because if she had, she would not be calling the woman Mrs. Robinson.  First of all, the movie Mrs. Robinson is manipulative, but she isn’t a child molester.  Benjamin is an adult, unlike 15-year-old Christian.  Second, in the movie, Benjamin has a very good idea that Mrs. Robinson is horrible, and he eventually gets a clue–again, unlike Christian, who seems to think it’s perfectly fine and dandy to have an ongoing business relationship with his rapist.  Finally, if E. L. James had had her wits about her, she would have realized that no one under the age of 25 has seen the movie at this point, which makes Ana referencing it and making that connection–and Christian getting it–kind of weird.  It’s this vague sense of having heard of the film without having watched it and having the takeaway be, “Oh, yeah, that movie about an older woman seducing a young, impressionable man.”  Which is not precisely what the movie is about.

Ana (remember, we’re still with her on vacation) gets jealous when she finds out Christian is having dinner with an “old friend.”  Naturally, this turns out to be her worst nightmare–Mrs. Robinson.  To Ana’s credit, she understands that an adult preying on a 15-year-old is wrong, and she points out that if it had been a 15-year-old girl and an adult man, no one would be romanticizing it.  Christian is all lost in the fact that he feels his Mrs. Robinson did him a favor.

There is nothing in me that thinks it is okay for an adult to be sleeping with a teenager.  I do not mean two young people, one of whom happens to be 18 and the other of whom is not.  I mean the kind of situation we’re talking about with Christian and his Mrs. Robinson, where an adult over the age of 30 thinks that it’s a good idea to have sex with a 15-year-old.  Before anyone gets all upset that I’m being judgy, I hold no blame for the younger person in that relationship.  Everything is squarely on the adult’s shoulders.  Why an adult would even have a sexual interest in a teenager is beyond me.  Ana rightly pushes Christian on this, telling him she sees Mrs. Robinson as a pedophile (even if she does spell it the UK way).

That brings us to how the heck Ana and Christian end up having another conversation about this.  Guess where he is right now in the story?  If you said, “Seattle,” you’d be wrong.  He follows Ana to Georgia, because he’s a creepy stalker.  While she’s busy emailing him about how mad she is that he is seeing Mrs. Robinson, he’s busy watching her from across the bar, counting how many drinks she’s had.

So, nah, he’s not messed up at all.  Nope.

I don’t know whether to be grateful or disappointed, but we’re nearing the end.  In a few weeks, we’ll bid goodbye to Fifty Shades of Grey.  I suppose I could continue with the next one, but I haven’t decided if I want to.  I may need to pull an Ana and have a cosmopolitan or five.


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