Out of the pop culture bubble

I love pop culture. It’s fun and funny and weird and covers a range of things — there’s pretty much something for everyone. That said, I also like what’s a little off the beaten path. Movies that don’t get huge openings, musical groups that don’t or won’t rule the charts, those television shows that are good enough to get renewed even if they aren’t water-cooler conversation.

And sometimes, I’m outside that bubble completely. Exhibit A: Reality TV. I have not watched any of it, not even way back when the only “reality TV” was MTV’s The Real World. My first reaction on learning what TRW was about was — how could these people be so desperate for attention that they would do this? At any rate, I wasn’t going to watch. I couldn’t imagine wanting people to watch me in such a situation, and so I wasn’t going to watch anyone else. So, and I say this only as a fact, I have not watched (aside from inevitable snippets) Survivor, The Bachelor/ette, Project Runway, Big Brother, nor any of the History/Discovery/A&E shows on real people in dirty dangerous jobs or real people who hoard everything. If you watch it and enjoy it, have at. I’ll just read something until you’re done.

I have to say that I would place the competition reality shows like Survivor, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, etc., in a slightly different category. Those are basically game shows of a short and to me that’s different thanReal Housewives of [Wherever].

One of the biggest crazes I was on the other side of was Titanic. Anyone reading Rhythm and the Blue Line might remember Ryan and Brody watching a movie (The Crow, one of my all-time favorites) and Ryan delivering her opinion of Titanic: “[It’s] an overlong piece of dreck.” No offense to James Cameron, who has made some cool movies and for whom I have a great deal of admiration regarding his underwater explorations. I just recall being appalled at the gushing reaction to this movie, where so many people thought it was so romantic. Sorry, 1500 people died (including the lead guy in the movie) — that is by no means romantic, not to me. However, millions of people spent billions of dollars on tickets, etc., and so I’ll just let that one go by and remain on my little iceberg island.

The latest craze I am not participating in is EL James’ 50 Shades trilogy. There are a few reasons for this, I guess, although I admit I should reserve complete judgment until I read it. But we all read critics and as opinions and so far, I haven’t seen anything that makes me want to go read this. It’s not even the fact that it was originally Twilight fan fiction. I haven’t read any of the Twilight books (yet another pop culture item I missed/avoided, although hey, I did read and see The Hunger Games), but I’ve also read that the author made many changes and so it’s no longer what it started out as. No problem.

I did read the free sample of 50 Shades of Grey on Amazon. Um, it was okay. Over on Literotica, where I post stories for free, there’s been much railing about 50 Shades. Many are appalled that there are hard-working writers coming up with original stories that got passed over by what they see as a hack. Yes, well, that does happen and I don’t see the point in getting worked up about that. Others have said it’s so poorly written it’s laughable, although the excerpt I read seemed, I don’t know, competent enough.

My biggest problem with the sample, and which made me not care about reading more, was the beginning premise.  The heroine, Ana, goes to interview hunky CEO Christian Grey. Okay, fine. Ana’s roommate is the editor of the college paper but is too ill to conduct the interview herself. This was again, fine, until it’s revealed — Ana has no experience in stuff like this, she’s not involved in the school paper, and she knows nothing about Grey. The roommate forgets (on purpose?) to give Ana any background info.

I’m sorry, that’s just too much for me. Logic (it seems) would dictate that another member of the paper’s staff should be assigned to do this. I don’t like when characters act illogically for no apparent reason. An acquaintance who’s reading it told me that that is all explained, but I don’t want it explained. I either want it logical from the start, or I want there to be some kind of hint that there’s an explanation coming, and I got no hint of that.

I admit that likely the main reason I’m not reading it is that I have little to no interest in the BDSM relationship that I understand makes up the bulk of the trilogy. I am not down on BDSM itself, don’t get me wrong — I’m fine with pretty much anything consensual between people in a relationship. It’s not my thing, but if it works for you or someone else, fine. I’ve been told that Ana signs a contract that gives Grey control over her for something like two years. Sorry, no can do. One thing you’ve probably noticed in my stories is a sense of equality between the characters.

There’s always give and take in a relationship, so I’m not saying that in all the things I write about it’s all 50/50 between the characters. Surely one will give more and the other take more at times, whether we’re talking emotionally or sexually, but that’s how real life works. Plus some people like to be more dominant, although not necessarily to the extent of trying someone down (but hey, why not give it a try if everyone’s good with it?).

So if you’re reading 50 Shades, I hope you’re enjoying it. I may even read it myself some day, because as with Titanic, there comes a time with these pop culture phenomena where I have to see it for myself.

Just not right now. And you can’t make me. 🙂


7 responses to this post.

  1. I thought I was alone in the world on “reality TV”


  2. Posted by blue on May 11, 2012 at 2:22 am

    i have seen quite a bit of raves/reviews about 50 shades of grey but when i read a review on a linked website (can’t remember now) that said it had a BDSM theme i was quickly turned off…that kind of thing really doesn’t do it for me…i just canNOT fathom why being pain will give anyone pleasure unless there’s something wrong with that person’s psyche but hey that’s just me (pls don’t shoot me)…to each his own, i say! i would disagree on you on titanic though coz i liked the movie when i saw it though watching it twice would’ve been extreme LOL….i also don’t watch reality tv shows much…it is just too weird how catty and petty and stupid they can be, men and women both! but i think i understand the appeal for some – it’s like watching a wreck you know will happen, can’t do anything about but can’t seem to avert your eyes and avoid being a witness to…


    • I’m certainly not the expert, but I don’t think BDSM means that there *must* be pain involved. Domination and submission do not necessarily equal leather, whips and chains.The acronym BDSM itself covers a wide range of things — bondage, discipline, domination, submission, sadism, masochism, and I’m sure there’s a lot that I missed. So BDSM could mean someone who simply enjoys having their hands restrained with a scarf and someone who is happy to help; it doesn’t mean someone is made immobile over a wooden table.

      Some people do get a sexual jolt from discomfort and/or pain — and I bet more of us do than we think or believe, even about ourselves. On the other hand, I’m sure there are women who do not enjoy receiving oral sex, and probably can’t wrap their minds around those that do. Nothing wrong with anyone’s psyche, it’s just how they’re wired.

      What I think I personally can’t get past (in terms of 50 Shades and the BDSM and such) is the ceding of control. I simply could not give someone that much control over me, to the point that they tell me when and what to eat (as I’ve heard is in the book). Never mind the sexual stuff. Now I have read that there is a sense of freedom in giving up that control, and I sort of see it but sort of don’t.

      This is not to say that I want always to be dominant, for I don’t, and I doubt many people do. Simply put, we all need a break. And if someone wants that break to be in the bedroom, and to be about sex, that’s fine. That just won’t be me.

      I’m given to understand that what a lot of people outside the BDSM don’t realize is that these relationships are not easily entered into. There must be a lot of frank talk so that both parties know what they’re getting and not, and what they want and not, and this all means there must be TRUST. In fact, a friend of mine once theorized that it’s really the submissive partner that holds the power, since they are the one who can say the safe word and stop the proceedings. And one criticism I’ve heard leveled at 50 Shades is that the two characters jump into this relationship too quickly.

      Anyway, pardon me for going on. As for Titanic — I’m not saying it’s not a well-made movie, because it is. Cameron paid attention to tons of detail and again I commend him on trying to make the actual sinking as accurate as he could. Still, I don’t like it.


      • Posted by blue on May 12, 2012 at 7:43 pm

        first of all, happy mother’s day 🙂

        secondly, thanks for the BDSM explanation…i have gone by only on stories i’ve glanced/skimmed at that does employ extreme methods to achieve pain for pleasure (i was curious so therefore i read)…i honestly didn’t know the simple tying of wrist with a scarf as a form of foreplay is a form of bdsm already…at least i have a better understanding of bdsm…however, based on the stories i have read, the recipient of pain either was dragged into that situation and has been “conditioned” eventually to equate pain with pleasure..another situation was bec of psychological trauma, that person now has a low self-esteem and perceives this kind of relationship as the norm…i guess i haven’t read the stories yet where it was consensual on both parties to submit/dominate each other in terms of controlling pain/pleasure being experienced.

  3. I’m with you on the whole reality TV thing. It’s a solid hour of listening to people bitch and stab each other in the back. I can go home for the weekend if that’s what I want to listen to.

    As for 50 Shades, we’ve discussed this before, and I agree with you. If the initial premise is out of left field, how unbelievable is the rest of the story going to be? The 22-year-old virgin who, in her very first sexual encounter, chooses to immerse herself in a bdsm relationship? I can’t buy it.

    As for BDSM in general, it’s possible that I’ve been over-exposed as far as reading it goes. Give me “normal” people, please. I need a break.

    But I loved Titanic. 🙂 Of course, now I’ve seen it so many times that it’s become a joke in our house. “Jack! Rose! Jack! Rose!” Anyway, it’s fun to watch if for no other reason than to see the costumes.


    • Yes, I have no desire to see people behaving badly, and of course on many of those shows they are behaving badly on purpose, and even worse than usual, for the camera. It’s funny, that’s a lot of the reason I didn’t get into Seinfeld. I watched a few episodes, but mostly they were so self-centered and mean to each other that I had no interest in continuing to watch.

      I think that the audience for 50 Shades is likely people who don’t know a whole lot about BDSM (and I know I’ve said it before, but I haven’t read Shades, so I’m only going by what I’ve heard). I myself don’t, btw, but I probably know a little more than some from reading forums and a few stories. I doubt that they will really think about the unlikelihood, as you say, of a 22yo virgin with no experience diving into a relationship like this. I have seen a few people scoff at the 22yo virgin idea, but that doesn’t bother me. I know that the average age at a first sexual encounter is in the teens, but still, that’s an average, which means that some people have sex later than that. I do know that some people must think I’m nuts for balking at that initial set up, but it really didn’t work for me.

      Give me The Crow — heck, even the sequels — over Titanic any day. Although yes, they had cool costumes. I understand they kind of decimated the Hollywood supply of costumes of that era since most of them ended up ruined in the water.


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