Why everybody gets excited about kinky headlines is beyond me. A couple of weeks ago, I saw the first headlines about an erotic Twilight fan-fiction. The headlines kept piling up. America is blushing again. There’s all kinds of hype about studios vying for film rights; the release, if it ever happens, will be sure to induce more blushing.
“So it didn’t take much for an erotic e-book to catch fire,” noted The New York Times’ Alessandra Stanley, “A glimpse of stocking can still be shocking when it’s used to bind a lady’s wrists; it’s irresistible when a handsome billionaire is tying the knot.”
My question is simple. Are we that bored in this country that we get worked up about stuff like this?
Is that what excites the nation? Bondage erotica? Is that the best we can do? We are in the throes of The Hunger Games craze; by several accounts, they’re not perfect books, but they do seem to raise some searing questions about the human condition. That is the highest goal of any story. We ennoble ourselves when we read Hamlet, and when we try to write another Hamlet. It allows us to meditate on the world around us, and what is good and what is evil and what is worthwhile within it.
With such questions out there waiting for us, and such good literature waiting to answer it, I see no reason why anyone should waste a second of attention for E.L. James’ work. Instead of being captivated by sexual fantasy, let us contend with Medea and her decisions in Euripides’ famous play. Let us read Waiting for Godot and wonder why Godot never shows up. Let us read Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald and meditate on the Roaring Twenties.
Let us ignore erotica, and let those “Fifty Shades of Grey” be what they truly are: shadows, and shades with no substance. Let that grey and dreary world of sexual fantasy fade away, and yield to true literature.