“Fifty Shades of Grey,” the book and the movie, is a celebration of the sadism that dominates nearly every aspect of American culture and lies at the core of pornography and global capitalism. It glorifies our dehumanization of women. It champions a world devoid of compassion, empathy and love. It eroticizes hypermasculine power that carries out the abuse, degradation, humiliation and torture of women whose personalities have been removed, whose only desire is to debase themselves in the service of male lust.
I do not agree with everything Hedges has to say in this article mainly because he lumps all media labelled as pornography together. It is a highly moralistic term that has been applied to poetry and art in order to further the empowerment of dominant cultures throughout human history. There have been a lot of very insightful, useful and harmless creations labelled as pornography which have nothing to do with humiliation or dehumanization, but I certainly know what he is talking about, the huge white male-centric media universe that shrinks all perspectives down to one objectifying lens that spreads misery and despair in both the people it entrances and the victims it enslaves. People who are trapped by this mindset are imprisoned in a world in which power and violence are the overwhelming motivations, a world devoid of love and empathy. In short, HELL. Not a religious hell of fire and brimstone, but living hell for both willing participants and abused victims.
There is no way to fight this problem. Fighting is the wrong metaphor. We need to love each other and be aware of our obsessions and how they affect others. Violence and sex are not the only obsessions that cause dysfunction in our world. Consumerism, acquisition, and greed in many guises are killing our world. Fear and the desire for security that can’t be attained drive it all and the lack of empathy that crosses cultural boundaries locks it all in place.
The way we break this cycle is by getting to know people and accepting them as they are. This is not easy. We are hardwired to put people into categories and judge even their harmless behaviors when they are unfamiliar. It takes a lot of work to see people for what they are as we all struggle through this living. People are not objects. They grow and change and are vulnerable to the forces of nature and society. The mighty and powerful and the poor and downtrodden, nobody knows what is going to happen next. It is when we attempt to mitigate that uncertainty, not by becoming enlightened, but by trying to force the world into our frame of reference that we begin the cycle of obsession and misery. Staying open to what will happen in the next second and putting off judgement, overriding that hardwired circuitry, in the hope of knowing more about where we are living and who we are living with is the only answer. But, it takes courage and constant vigilance to see the openings and glide through those momentary doorways into a world where there are no clear answers only questions to be explored.
We have a choice. We can accept the world as it is being sold to us by a few powerful people or use our minds and bodies to explore and experience the real world that is being covered up by this flat scenery. Listen to everyone. Question everything. Look for love and ways to love and care for each other. Don’t allow yourself to be tied up and battered into submission. Help others free themselves. It is the only way out of hell. Hell is getting what you think you desire. I wonder what heaven is?