A guest blog today:

Now upon reading that title, I bet you thought of either the erotic books or the simply disturbing film. I bet none of you thought of anythingelse. And you know what? I hate those books – the film too I guess. They have left a mark not only on British culture, but on the minds of anyone who had the curiosity to follow the media’s hype over the damned thing.

Before you ask, no, I have not read them. I guess that may be bad given that I am writing an article criticising them, but the detailed content is not what I want to focus on This book has a mountain-load of critics commenting on how the series is unrealistic and disrespectful in its representation of men, women, relationships and the key word “consent”; but that again is not my focus.

My repugnance towards the book is personal, mostly concerned with the title. Anything that now has “50”, “shades”, or “grey” related to it has a permanent association with this smut. For example, one of my favourite sayings, ‘Black and white and all between are all but shades of grey’ which I think is brilliant visual imagery to demonstrate how everyone is equal and should be treated with respect, is now ruined. If I were to ever again say this, it would be greeted with an awkward silence and a few childish giggles, as instead of thinking about the message of the quote (Is it a quote or a saying?), they’re thinking about a multimillionaire with a whip. Similarly, there is a superb book, based on a similar idea of proving equality set in a dystopian world with a class system ranked and distinguished by colours, called ‘Shades of Grey’. The author is the superb Jasper Fforde, who’s ‘Thursday Next’ series I thoroughly recommend to any English Literature student – it is a very amusing commentary on of classical literature whilst being completely supernatural and unique – check out “The Eyre Affair”. Yet now the title to poor Mr Fforde’s book is often misinterpreted by any book-store browser and rejected – or picked up by someone expecting similar ‘scenes to Fifty, who also reject, though possibly with a greater sense of disappointment.

The title has created a stigma attached to these words which interrupt and ruin the messages of other significant features of our culture That’s why I hate the damned books. The film too.