50 Shades of Shitty Writing

Pup peeves

Happy Heteronormativity Day! Well, sorry I’m a week late. This one in particular, however, was especially grinding. Usually columns for Valentine’s Day loathe it, but the release of “Fifty Shades of Grey” made this one especially taxing.

Ostensibly a movie about a nice girl’s introduction to the kinky world, “Fifty Shades” is more like your white friend telling you they know everything about India and Pakistan, because they read the intro to a Wikipedia article about curried beef.

The world of power play kinks is usually called BDSM, but the term is wider, richly nuanced, detailed and deep. “Fifty Shades” is shallow, ignorant and poorly written. But this isn’t a movie review. This is a call for examination. Almost nothing in the work represents power play kinks as they are in kink subcultures. There’s hardly any mutual negotiation of expectations, scenes and play. While the idea of a contract is found, it’s not a negotiated, mutually agreed upon document. Aftercare is nonexistent, and the treatment of headspaces borders on parody.

If a book were written purporting to know all of South Asia because of a brief overview of curried beef, the desi (South Asian) in me would rightfully rebel. “Fifty Shades of Grey” is that for power play kinks. As such the kinkster in me rebels. Neither work is a representation of me, nor is it the representation of the larger subculture. Why, then, does society at large buy into this? When a culture or subculture is ripped from its context, commodified and repackaged, this is termed appropriation. It’s not acceptable do that for my South Asian culture, nor is it acceptable to do that for my kinks and kink culture.

Perhaps, then, the problem lies in a plain lack of education. When topics go undiscussed, popular culture often exploits and appropriates them. Academic treatments of kink are still often highly pathological and judgmental. Subculture analysis is only just beginning. If there is a silver (pun possibly intended) lining to the whole “Fifty Shades” debacle, it’s that at least now a chance to set things right exists. Plenty of good kink erotica and representation exist, which only adds insult when “Fifty Shades” is so popular.

The world of kink is vast and wonderful. The application of human creativity and insight into pleasure, sex and relationships is a wonderful chance to explore and learn more about ourselves and about our culture at large, along with the subculture. If you do want to spend money on exploring the culture, buy resources like Kink Academy, book erotica author Sinclair Sexsmith as a speaker and research further. Don’t be the person that bases his or her worldviews on curried beef.

Zak Khan doesn’t even go here anymore, but they have a lot of feelings and angry barking.