According to this story in The Guardian, 50 Shades is too tame for France. The French press also slam the book for being poorly written, apparently.
This sounds much more like a turf war than anything else, actually. France and England just seem to enjoy rivalry and competition with one another.
But the interesting thing that emerged in the Guardian article is a line in which the author E.L. James is quoted as saying that the book was “her midlife crisis write large.” That’s something she mentioned in an interview that appeared on the Huffington Post a couple weeks ago.
The midlife crisis comment got me thinking…doesn’t E.L. James’ admission that the trilogy is the product of a midlife crisis add a tone of desperation to the whole thing?
Society at large has a negative understanding of midlife crises on the whole. And when a man has a midlife crisis — buying a sports car or boat; taking a trophy wife or girlfriend 15-20 years his junior; and attempting to be younger than he truly is — we see him as pathetic, sorry and misguided. He seems to be trying too hard to be something he is not. He seems to have lost his grounding.
E.L. James’ fascination with BDSM and kinky sex, which she admitted in the Huffington Post interview, resulted in the trilogy, has that same air of pathetic misguidedness.
And yet, there is no way that the popular understanding of the 50 Shades phenomenon will ever be seen as a desperate move motivated by a true midlife crisis. Our culture’s obsession with sex is so strong, and sex is glorified to such a degree, that over and over it will be promoted as liberating and enlightening.