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Friends Don’t Let Friends Promote Porn

No, I don’t mean deliberate promotion. I mean the inadvertent kind that results from one group clamoring for a boycott of a book (or movie) whose content or message they strongly reject.

Take for example the 50 Shades of Grey series by British author E.L. James. There were many calls for a boycott, stern warnings, and tsk tsking from Christians — months before the film version appeared. Talk about music to a movie producer’s ears.

I understand the impulse to speak out — I do. But we risk helping the dreck as unpaid marketers. Ray Comfort (180, The Way of the Master) has a new film out about whether homosexuality is born and unchangeable. Already, its Internet Movie Database (imdb) combox is on fire with angry LGTB folks urging the oublic not to go see it. Is that a smart strategy, really?

Think about how it applies here. A certain slice of the audience are going to pay for flicks like 50 Shades of Grey no matter what unamused Christians say; another slice won’t waste their precious time and money and don’t need our protesting. That leaves a (likely) larger slice who are either unaware of the books or are undecided about whether to read them.

Nothing like publically outraged Church Ladies (and Gentlemen) to deliver a jolt of interest toward controversial material.

As Catholics, we are told time and again to “engage and impact the culture for Christ.” And I obviously agree. But sometimes engagement means systematic ignoring,  and sometimes it means asking uncomfortable questions, like why are millions of women and their dates so seemingly smitten by a tale about a sexual deviant who does icky sexual things to a vulnerable young woman? The basic story is: the eponymous Christian Grey meets interviewee Anastasia Steele (could these names be one more shade of cliche?), ties her up, inflicts pain on her, and over time she comes to enjoy, but then reject, his inflictions. That’s it.

I sure wish the boycott brigade had waited until the book reviews came out, most of which skewed heavily negative: “I’ve never read anything so badly written that got published. It made Twilight look likeWar and Peace,” remarked Sir Salman Rushdie; The New York Times’Maureen Dowd said it was it “like a Bronte devoid of talent,” and “dull and poorly written;” Jesse Kornbluth of The Huffington Post opined: “As a reading experience, Fifty Shades…is a sad joke, puny of plot;” Metro News Canada wrote that “suffering through 500 pages of this heroine’s inner dialogue was torturous, and not in the intended, sexy kind of way;” Jessica Reaves wrote in the Chicago Tribune that the “book’s source material isn’t great literature,” and is, “sprinkled liberally and repeatedly with asinine phrases,” and “depressing.”

I understand the next 50 Shades book is coming out — from “the hero’s point of view,” the ads trumpet. We are sure to see the same boycott calls.

How about othercotting instead? Spend your money on better movies.

The 50 Shades version I’d like to see would be told from the dad’s perspective, in which the sadist Grey gets the stuffing beaten out of him by Ana’s father.

By Patrick Coffin









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