Film

Four Questions for That Angry Bro Who Says Fifty Shades Is Just ‘Porn for Soccer Moms’

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Hi, angry-bro! I know it’s upsetting when anything in this culture becomes wildly popular despite not being marketed to you. This weekend, during the giant ball-related cultural event that is marketed to you, I heard you grousing about one that isn’t: the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey movie, which you know as an objective truth is ridiculous and dumb and a waste of everybody’s time.

“It’s just porn for soccer moms,” you said, and that ended the discussion, less because you were right and more because you’re a blowhard loudmouth who can’t really be argued with because your feelings get hurt.

Anyway, here’s four things maybe you should think about.

1. Why do you think something targeted to “soccer moms” is inherently dismissible? The stale sobriquet “soccer moms” is the ’00s way of saying “housewives” or “suburban women” or “stay-at-homes” or whatever, an American demographic that has always been painted as tasteless and unsophisticated, even by the ad folks marketing to it. But there’s millions of them, and their Good Wife is a hell of a lot more grown-up than your Thor sequels. Seriously, what prideful weakness is it inside you that makes you feel you have to valorize your tastes as the Objective American Norm, and your mother’s or your wife’s or your co-workers’ tastes as marginal and silly?

Another thing these “soccer moms” were right about that angry-bro culture is finally learning: Sometimes you only need the greatest hits, not the individual albums.

2. Is “for soccer moms” really a more ridiculous porn category than whatever it is that you’re into? Think about this: Your straight-ahead, all-American, meat-and-potatoes taste in porn has helped usher in the era in adult entertainment in which we live, one where the baseline is faceless dudes with Pringles-can rods ka-banging into breast-implanted, de-pubic-haired, crispy-tanned girl-women assembly-line style. Mainline U.S. porn is factory made, a triumph of the theory of interchangeable parts, demonstration that in the fantasies of millions, the sex partner isn’t the whole person — it’s the person’s hole. Fifty Shades, though, like the romance novels you find equally ridiculous, is about whole people discovering each other, relishing each other, getting off together.

3. Maybe you’re making fun of Fifty Shades because in the books the writing’s pretty godawful. I’ll give you a pass on that, angry bro, if you can list the last three books you read to completion and prove to me that they challenged or enlarged you in any way at all. Do those Assassin’s Creed novelizations encourage you to communicate your darkest fantasies with your partner? To strive for greater mutual satisfaction in your sex life? No? Then don’t presume that your genre trash is less disreputable than hers.

4. No soccer mom that you know is asking you to read or see Fifty Shades, right? I’m not going to argue you should — that maybe you should be steeped in a feminine fantasy for once, and forced to consider how the reality of you and your lovemaking is pretty far from its ideal, the way women in your mass culture have to all the time. But imagine that they were asking you to see it. Imagine that they just assumed it was a movie for everyone, not just one for them. Imagine that they pressed it on everyone after Thanksgiving dinner or the Super Bowl the way that you try to get them to sit through Die Hard twice a goddamn year. How would you feel then, bro?

I’m not asking you not to find Fifty Shades dumb or obnoxious or worth avoiding. I’m just asking you to think about this: Much of the culture that you love is equally dumb/obnoxious/avoidable, and you would flame-war the internet to the ground if women talked about it the way you do Fifty Shades.

— Your friend,

Alan


Hey, you could do worse than following @studiesincrap on the Twitter thing.