Long, long time ago, there used to be a British Army Captain by the name of Charles Cunningham Boycott. He used to be an English land agent in Ireland. The Captain resisted the locals’ demand that their rents are reduced. The Irish came up with an ingenious way of getting back at him (and his masters). They ostracized him. They pretended he didn’t exist.
Captain Boycott would end up costing his masters and the British government a pretty penny. With the Irish refusing to help his masters with harvesting their crops, the Crown had to send in the army to do the work. To get about 500 pounds’ worth of crops off the fields would eventually cost about 10,000 pounds.
Good old Captain couldn’t buy his groceries locally, his mail delivery guy faced threats if he didn’t stop delivering mail, and, generally speaking, the locals made him into a non-entity.
Thus the word “boycott” came into existence.
This would be precisely the treatment the Fifty Grades of Grey ought to receive. Both as a book, and as a movie.
A British author who wouldn’t be able to write if it saved her life, one E. L. James, hit upon the idea of creating a novel that would celebrate all kinds of sexual perversities that she could think of. Making her dreams come true, so to speak. So, she wrote Fifty Shades of Grey. It started innocently enough as a blog entry, proving one more time (as if proof was needed) that the web really is the most democratic medium on earth. Anyone, no matter how untalented, can publish, more often than not not having to pay a red farthing for the privilege.
Then, for whatever reason, Vintage Books entered the scene. Now, it used to be a pretty respectable publishing outfit. Established in the 1950s by no less an authority on quality literature than Alfred A. Knopf, Random House bought it half a dozen years later. It sails under Random House’s flag even today.
Driven by the number of eyeballs that made this piece of excrement a popular sensation in the blogosphere, Vintage went and published it. The buck doesn’t stink.
Not to be outdone, Hollywood entered the fray. Focus Features, Michael De Luca Productions and Trigger Street Productions, with the support of Universal as the main distributor, made this regular nonsense into a movie.
Rather logical, that. Hollywood has long ago ceased to have any good story ideas of its own. It’s been making its dough on endless re-makes of re-makes, the more violent the better: why think of story development when a shrapnel explosion that releases some life-threatening space aliens will do the job as well, and it won’t cost as much, either?
Shockingly, some outfits that ought to know better, such as Publishers Weekly or Time, have pronounced E.L. James an important person, author, an artist, indeed.
Of course, if you consider someone who’s been selling filth under the guise of art an important person, just because that filth has been selling like hot cakes, it seems you have to return to kindergarten and re-learn basic human values.
Demeaning women wouldn’t be one of them.
And yet, this is what this drivel is all about: abuse is fun, abuse deserves our admiration, abuse deserves our applause. And the person who promotes it deserves every cent of the money she’s making.
Even more shocking: a public library in Florida removes the filth from its shelves, only to be censored by a politically correct hen from the American Library Association. The book, she said, attracts readership, and who the heck are those librarians who think they can decide what is and what is not in good taste.
Which brings us to a serious question.
Censorship, as such, should not exist. While, for example, most of us would agree that filth that demeans women and celebrates abuse should never see the light of day, once we attempt censorship, we’ve stepped on a very slippery path.
There’s a better way, for us, as citizens. Boycott this kind of dirt, and boycott those who celebrate it. Then, it still would be a form of censorship, but it would be based on our individual responsibilities, and nobody can be forcing us to support those who claim freedom of expression includes freedom to applauding criminal behaviour.
Abuse of anyone, be it sexually or any other way, happens to be criminal activity.
Our judicial system is not going to touch this with a ten-foot pole. It fears the onslaught of those who believe anything anybody published while claiming it’s art and it’s sacred.
Guess what: it’s not.
And the best way to drive the point home would be to boycott not only Fifty Shades of Grey (and any other installments of it), but also everything that has anything to do with Random House, as well as with the Hollywood morons who are pushing it through.
Feeling the pinch in their wallets is the only way we can stop them.