“Why Fifty Shades of Grey is so popular and why you don’t need to buy a mirror for your ceiling” Part 3 of 4
In my first post on Fifty Shades of Grey I talked about several reasons why a lot of people hate this…
In my first post on Fifty Shades of Grey I talked about several reasons why a lot of people hate this film. In my second post I talked about why I won’t see it and why I don’t think you should, either.
But the truth remains, Shades of Grey will likely be a box office smashing success. People will flock to the screen like moths to a flame. Why? What will make this poorly written film so wildly popular?
Kirsten Andersen says it’s not the sex.
Here’s a theory. It’s popular because it’s the same story as Twilight which of course was crazy popular.
In Twilight an introverted, clumsy teenage girl attracts the affection and obsession of a good looking guy with a lot of power who turns out to have a dark secret: he’s a vampire. This guy really likes the girl, but also wants to hurt her.
In Fifty Shades an introverted, clumsy young girl attracts the affection and obsession of a good looking guy with a lot of power who turns out to have a dark secret: he’s addicted to violent sex. This guy really likes the girl, but also wants to hurt her.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Both of the girls are written as blank slates, painfully ordinary, so that it’s easy to insert yourself into the story in their place.
That’s when (especially female) viewers find themselves saying inwardly, “Wow, I am irresistible to these powerful, handsome, but deeply damaged men. I apparently hold the promise of helping them heal and be human again.”
Fifty Shades like Twilight is a fantasy that fuels the hope that somewhere out there there’s an extraordinary man who will adore you just the way you are, no matter how plain and downright unremarkable you truly are. A guy that is obsessed with me! Oh my! He worships me! And he’s good looking and has money. So I can worship him, too. What a deal!
The success of both Twilight and Fifty Shades stems from the battle that rages in all of us from the day we emerge screaming, naked, and helpless into this world. Says Kirsten Andersen, “On the one hand, we all want to be deeply loved for who we are. On the other, we see ourselves as pathetically unworthy.”
We all share an emptiness. The emptiness of feeling unwanted and unremarkable goes deep. We have all felt common and plain or invisible for various reasons. We hope a few shades of gray will fill that empty place. We can all identify with Ana and understand her thrill at being chosen – her, of all people! – by a man with so much power he might as well be God.
But bad things happen when we let someone else play god in our lives. That’s what Ana lets Christian do to her. If you’ve ever looked to another person to fulfill your deepest longing for love you know exactly what I mean.
And bad things happen when we try to play god ourselves. That’s what happens when Ana convinces herself she can fix and rescue this guy. If you’ve ever tried to take onto yourself another person’s addiction or dysfunction you know exactly what I mean.
The only real saving love we’ll ever find in this life is not romantic. You will never find it in a sex dungeon or in the arms of another human. All the longings stirred by the film are at the bottom of it not about sex, or even the best of human love.
What we’re hungry for and need is a love which is not of this world. What Ana and Christian and the rest of us are looking for is love divine, all love excelling.
Consider how thrilled Ana was to be chosen as the object of Christian’s “affection.” We all want to be chosen. Loved. Accepted. Wanted.
If only someone would choose me and love me like that.
I’ve always been shocked by the way Jesus chooses his first disciples. They are unremarkable men, unschooled ruffians and fishermen for the most part, accustomed to being passed over when rabbis gathered their followers. Like kids on the playground choosing up sides for kickball, someone is always left to last, awkwardly poking at the dirt with their foot while others are drafted before them.
But then out of the blue, here comes Jesus along the shores of Galilee, smiling as he picks his team. And to everyone’s surprise this unconventional rabbi points to these undesirables and says, “Follow me.” I pick you! Chosen! Imagine it!
And this same Jesus has called you. Called me. You could say he’s obsessed.
This the love that will not let me go. I’m not talking about a love you find by tying someone to the bedpost. The love of Jesus that will not let you go is the Truth that will set you free.
The great irony of Fifty Shades is that like Ana we all seek fulfillment but will never find it in others who demand we submit to them.
The great irony in Jesus is that as we freely submit to him, we find the deepest fulfillment and freedom of all – in God himself.
So please don’t head to the theater to buy a fantasy. Don’t wait for the video to come out so you can draw the blinds and furtively watch Fifty Shades of Grey. You don’t need to buy a mirror for your ceiling.
Just look in your plain old mirror at plain old, unremarkable you. Do you know what you’re looking at? There before you is not a demi-god like Christian Grey or an un-special person like Ana. No, there you are looking, the one Jesus has set his affection upon.
You are one to whom Jesus calls, “I choose you.”
You could say he’s obsessed.