Censorship and 'Fifty Shades of Grey'
I want to talk about censorship of literature today, because the censor’s office just has classified Fifty Shades of Grey, by EL James. This is the book that started life as a piece of fan fiction based on that other classic series of books, the Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer. Fifty Shades of Grey, which none of the publishing houses wanted to touch until it took off virally online and became known as ‘mommy porn’. Fifty Shades of Grey is the acceptable book about BDSM (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission and sadism and masochism) sexual practices. It has been suggested the book is so popular because although it is about atypical sexual practices, it is able to be hidden on the kindle, no need to let anyone know you are reading it or the two sequels Fifty Shades Books like these create a bit of a problem for the censorship system. Classics like Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Lolita, De Sade’s Justin, have been around for years, there are lots of them about, and they are accepted to be classics. Fifty Shades is what could be described as an instant classic. The series has sold 350,000 copies here, and it’s been voted Number 5 in Whitcoulls’ top 100 list for 2012-2013. It has sold 40 million copies around the world. Yet on the face of it, the book looks objectionable in terms of our censorship legislation.