My Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr feeds have been taken over by an increasingly acerbic conversation between fans and critics of the newly released 50 Shades of Grey movie and the book that inspired it.
With the best of intentions, a critic of the movie could share a long list of reasons why it’s unhealthy—such as this, this, this, this, and this—to try to convince a fan to boycott it. But what good would that serve? Does anyone take such lists seriously when they are of the opposing view and a tool in winning an argument? If someone wants to see the movie, they will and however well a critic might argue their point of view will not dissuade them.
In fact, a critic’s sincere attempt to make a fan see their point of view might even create dissension. Needless to say, dissension does not contribute to building healthy, vibrant communities. What is needed instead are conversations in which fans and critics calmly listen to one another without passing judgment, and with no other intention than to share opinions. However much these might differ, both fan and critic will gain insight from the conversation.
Furthermore, if critics of the movie believe the results of a study showing that 25% of readers of the novels between the ages of 18 and 24 are more likely to have an abusive partner, they have all the more reason to not judge fans. Because one of them might be their friend, and their judgmental attitude might have shut the only door they could have knocked on in the first place.
Unfortunately, it seems that the art of conversation has been somewhat lost, and those around 50 Shades quickly turn into shaming. What I’m hoping for is for the shaming to stop. We need to respect everyone’s opinion and learn how to turn these differences into rich, civil, and eloquent conversations. These will no doubt prove to be quite enlightening and could perhaps restore some sanity in all the various conversations our society is engaged in.
Image credit: Chad Mauger.