In the News and on my Mind: Gandalf is the Original Grey

Watching the news in the evening is a bit like being on an emotional Tilt-aWhirl. “Isis now sets people on fire.” “Harper Lee has a new book out!” “Some oddballs are bringing measles back because they’re scared of autism, which is a bit like saying I’m worried about birthday candles, so let’s start a forest fire.” “It’s going to be gorgeous this weekend!” “Look, a politician being deliberately rude.” “And also, look at these adorable puppies!” My limbic system does not work that fast!

I found this Facebook status, a few weeks back, on a friend’s timeline and I thought it perfectly summed up the world right now. Add a splash of humour and that helps, it helped me to smile for a moment, even as I was horrified by what I was seeing on the news that night.

I have had these news stories on my mind for a while now.

Every night on the news there’s: Isis engaged in holding people hostage and burning them alive, measles seems to be spreading with a fear of vaccinations and a backlash to go along with that, here in Canada the assisted suicide debate is being ignited by our court’s recent ruling, Deflate-Gate was the name for this year’s Super Bowl, and the Fifty Shades hype just won’t be silenced.

For the next five weeks, I will be discussing one of these news stories and sharing my thoughts here because I just can’t seem to get all five of these stories out of my head.

In this case, I will go backwards and work my way, from last to first. In five weeks time I shall see where we are with terrorism and extreme groups because I’m sure this particular story isn’t going away.

I liked to make the joke that all that Fifty Shades hype stole my birthday thunder, but on a more serious note I feel there is a bigger discussion going on here than any movie, no matter how much it rakes in.

I read the books after they came out and they are no Lord of the Rings: from Gandalf the Grey to Christian Grey. This, in no way, is a comparison of the two, other than their character titles.

When I read, I was curious what kind of writing to expect and I thought it was a lot of ridiculous catch phrases and emails, back and forth, between the two main characters. I guess, in modern fiction, email and texting are to be expected.

Laters, Baby

My most loathed line from the story is the line “Laters, Baby,” getting on my nerves after the third time or so and there were three whole books of it.

Cheesiest line ever? I would have to say this one takes the cake.

I don’t like to judge anyone who has written a novel, let alone three, but as a writer I can’t say it stayed with me after I finished it.

To explain why this story took off is beyond my expertise, but I can’t ignore the cultural significance, for whatever it’s worth.

SEX, LIES, AND FIFTY SHADES – Entertainment Weekly

If it has our society on fire, getting us talking, I can’t fault it. If you have a history of being sexually or physically abused and violated, it’s going to touch a nerve and I can’t say I wouldn’t feel the same way.

Rape Culture, Ana Steele and the Dark Desire of Codependents

I have never had that happen to me and I could come from a more neutral point-of-view. It touches no nerve for me to read. The battered women’s shelters were protesting and suggesting movie-goers should take the money they’d spend on Fifty Shades movie tickets and instead donate that to one of the abuse awareness organizations or shelters.

I think the whole thing is a snapshot of where we, as a society, are concerning sexual politics, gender roles and studies. I have been really fascinated by feminist issues and yet, I don’t totally reject a movie like Fifty Shades of Grey.


I don’t care what others want to watch or read. I will not see the movie in the theatres. I have read so many articles about the movie’s release, pro and con, some with a brilliant twist of humour.

The following is one written from a man’s point-of view, which I was pleased to find because most are written by women:

Elite Daily – Fifty Shades of Grey Was 50 Shades of Disappointing

I have had a great time reading the comments, on Facebook, when these articles are posted.

“Fifty Shades of Terrible!”

I’ve heard everything from the belief that Fifty Shades of Grey must be about a grey-haired, old man to an African-American comedian’s joke that she’s had enough with the idea of whips and chains for her race.

From silly to edgy.

And of course there was eventually going to be that one story of some fan getting out-of-control:

Cinema Workers Left Cleaning Up Blood After Fifty Shades Attack

If he were poor, nobody would be in love with main character Christian Grey. Stocking and obsession wouldn’t be so cute anymore.

The BDSM experts are all up-in-arms about the inaccuracy of those infamous red room scenes.

Abuse isn’t love.

I don’t believe author E.L. James did all she could to research the BDSM world. I don’t know how much research she did do. To many women, the power the character of Christian has in the story is attractive, in some way. I could make the argument that overall Fifty Shades is a romance. The BDSM scenes are the thing to grab all the attention, mostly from people who certainly did not read the books and never would.

I read everything from reviews on the cultural and social significance

The story is about a guy with a dark past, abuse included, and these issues are uncomfortable for us to talk about, but I think it’s important that we bring them into the light. For some people, the female readers of the books, that is how the discussion would get started.

Fifty Shades Of Grey’ Isn’t A Movie About BDSM, And That’s A Problem – The Huffington Post

I may have read the books, but that was a few years ago now. I don’t feel even I can accurately discuss the subject because, truthfully, a lot of the books have grown fuzzy in my mind. It wasn’t, for me, a favourite or a memorable enough story. I did not read it over and over, like so many fans have.

When I say this is not really a BDSM movie and more of a romance at its core, I say that because of all the inaccuracies that all those BDSM experts have been screaming about. Sure, the cliches and archetypes are everywhere throughout the book and movie.

I have included links to some of the articles and blog posts I have been reading on this whole thing, but of course, these are only a small sampling of what’s being said and debated all over the internet.

I do know the soundtrack has gotten a lot of attention, especially Beyonce’s slow and sultry rendition of “Crazy In Love), Sia’s (Salted Wound), , and my personal favourite:

Ellie Goulding, Love Me Like You Do, YouTube

So the acting is getting mixed reviews, but for the most part I would have to say people weren’t blown away, other than those hard-core fans.

Based on some Twilight fan fiction in the very beginning. I was never a fan, even after reading those books to see what all the hype was about, of the bruiting and mysterious guy who doggedly pursues the somewhat inexperienced and (some would claim) vulnerable girl.

Pretty much, if you add sex to it, Twilight and Fifty Shades come close to being the same thing.

There are something like 8 billion people on the planet and that’s about how many different versions you could expect to get of feelings concerning Fifty Shades of Grey. As many humans as there are is going to be how many different opinions of this book and/or film there will end up being.

I don’t feel this is a review exactly, as I haven’t seen the film of which many are reviewing with such gusto right now.

I wanted to show that this underlies some more vital issues of our time. I want there to be compassion and understanding for everyone, concerning each individual’s experience with such touchy topics. I feel for every victim of sexual, physical, mental, or emotional abuse. This movie does bring up some rather bad feelings for these people. I have a sensitivity for every last one of them.

As for what this says about the kind of entertainment, the sort of thing that gets so many women excited, I have to consider what this does to our young people.

For James this was all a fantasy, in her head, as a fifty-year-old woman. It seemed to fill some need she had to express herself.

But what about all the young people, both male and female? What, if anything, are they taking away from the huge popularity of Fifty Shades?

I think about the world my niece and nephews are going to be growing up in. I don’t know what sort of an imprint this movie might have on modern pop culture and on the way we continue to view gender roles, sexual expression, and morality.

I am stumped and I hoped, by writing my thoughts down, I could make sense of some of this.

Um…it’s not revealing, to me, any broad, sweeping revelations.

I don’t know what over 90 million dollars at the box office in North America alone says about us as a whole. I know the outcries have been impossible to ignore and the publicity has been enormous.

Whose to say why certain things like this catch on and become so huge. I just want us all to be mindful of one another’s feelings and to be aware of what we need to do to remain sensitive and empathetic.

Submission and Dominance. Love and control. Romance or abuse. These distinctions are hard to find, some more clear to one person than for another.

I am lucky I grew up in a good and positive environment, learning boundaries and healthy relationships. I can’t say how others, who weren’t so lucky, process the same things I have been thinking since all this craziness began.

Stole my thunder is right.


I was a big fan of romance novels as a teen. I would listen to them on audio books as often as I could get my hands on them.

Whether it’s romance novels for young women or porn for young men, or vice versa, it does have some affect on how we see love and relationships going forward in our lives.

It can be healthy or not. I wish I could know that everyone comes through it unscathed, but if just one girl sees what’s in the media, from any film or book, and thinks they deserve any less than total respect and love then I can’t say it’s all harmless fun.

On the other hand, these sources of entertainment aren’t going away anytime soon. We need to learn how to deal with them, to enjoy them for what they’re worth, while still doing our best to live compassionate lives, both for ourselves and for those around us.

Oh, yeah, and one final thing:

No disrespect, to you, Professor Tolkien; wherever you are.


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