By Corrina Lawson On Jun 7 2012, 9:00 am
I was recently interviewed by my local daily newspaper, the Hartford Courant, and one of the questions she asked stumped me. **
"Do you think 50 Shades of Grey will change the genre?" she asked.
It stumped me because, while while the book and its sequels are causing quite the stir in mainstream media, those of us who read romance know that the subject matter of the book–BDSM, a young heroine, an alpha hero–are nothing new. Some would say these themes have been better written in other books, though 50 Shades definitely has plenty of fans.
To me, the question sounded more like "Will 50 Shades of Grey change the perception of the romance genre?"
And there, the answer is mixed.
On the one hand, you have people calling it mommy porn and proclaiming that because of these books, feminism is dead. To those people–not you guys of course–I say that I absolute hate the term 'mommy porn" for a zillion reasons but mostly for the ones I detailed in this post on Wired.com: Geek Girls, 50 Shades of Grey and Why I Hate the Term Mommy Porn.]
On the other hand, it's absolutely undeniable that 50 Shades is making boatloads of money, for the writer and for her publishing company. Given it's been optioned as a movie, some producers, actors, writers and a movie studio also stand to make a boatload.
Anything that makes that much money makes people re-evaluate the worth of it. It's human nature. Star Wars made a huge splash and, suddenly, it was decided that, hey, people liked this science fiction stuff. Superman and Batman made money at the movies and now we have a number of great superhero movies, the latest and greates of which is The Avengers. It's certain that people aren't looking at superheroes as silly any longer, at least those not making movies. Their coffers are getting too full to snicker.
Harry Potter jumped started the young adult book craze, which led to Twilight, which led to a lot of paranormal romance for teenagers but which also led to some awesome other YA series, like the Hunger Games.
A rising tide floats all boats.
What I would love for 50 Shades of Grey to change is the lack of good romance movies. Because it seems maybe there's only one or two really good romances a year in the movies, if that. Right now, Meryl Streep seems to be the only one getting romance scripts that feel like real romances. I love Meryl to pieces but, surely, with all the great romance books out there, there are some more great movies to be had.
Where's my Eve Dallas & Roarke In Death movie? Stephen King has his books turned into movies all over the place. Nora Roberts has had a number of her books made into television movies but why not think bigger. Let's go for broke. Let's finally have an In Death movie. Better yet, let's have an HBO In Death series with all our favorite characters and all sorts of CGI gadgets for the future setting.
Where's my Arcane Society movies or television series?
Or, hey, where's my movie for Phoenix Rising? No BDSM but telekinetic sex in mid-air!
If HBO can do George R.R. Martin, they can do Nora Roberts and Jayne Ann Krentz. Not only can they, but they should. There's a big hungry market out there for good romance stories of all kinds and genres. The message that publishing and major media should be getting is that people love and want these stories.
Please, sir, can we have some more?
That's what I hope 50 Shades does for the genre, that it makes the people with the money finally recognize there are millions and millions of us reading romance and loving it and willing to spend money on a good story, in any format, be it paper, ebook, movie or television series.
I want the questions I get from the non-romance reading people to stop being "Oh, so you read and write those books?" and instead become "Oh, so you write romance like Nora Roberts or (insert favorite author)? I LOVE those books."
One of us. One of us.
**I also said something in the interview that was either a Freudian slip or an incomplete thought that I didn't mean to say but, ah well, all publicity is good publicity right?