Thursday, April 4, 2013

50 Shades of objective beauty

This week has been filled with migraines and that is shockingly effective in keeping me from making much progress on a post. Luckily for you, I am not totally empty handed.

Amazing, isn't it? I mean, I'm sure the dude was adorable in his youth, but that isn't exactly what I would call a Greek God and objectively sexy. Admittedly, I've been struggling to summon any picture of Grey in my mind simply because for all the fawning description, there is no character there. He has sculpted lips/jaw/cheeks and eyes that can shoot lasers of contempt and rage and he's kinda fuzzy? He can also look super preppy and kind of bad-ass? But those (to me) are largely carried by the personality so how does this- augh.

Any mental image I can summon of him are kind of hazy poster-boy type things. Seeing this picture made me realize why I've had such a hard time picturing him.

See the dude in the first half of the picture? My brain recognizes he is conventionally attractive, but thinks he looks kind of weird and alien. I am repeatedly being told I should find Grey super-sexy but I'm a little strange, I can't find someone super sexy on the outside unless I think they're funny. No, that isn't a joke or an exaggeration. That isn't to say I'm into anyone who I think is funny (I would be unable to be monogamous and have friends if I was) simply that humor and personality play a big role in my attraction to people.* I struggle to summon a picture of Grey's face, I do not struggle to picture his personality. Which is where the divide comes from (for me). I struggle to find Grey's personality anything but awful, which means I'm just not going to be into it.

Which brings me onto Grey being Objectively Beautiful.  I just don't think there can be such a thing as objective beauty, and what EL James is trying so forcefully and desperately to portray is conventional beauty, which is a very different thing, and still changes drastically from one period of time and place to another.

Also don't forget to cast your vote for what you'd like to see the Something Short and Snappy book club to read! 

*This has served me so well.


  1. Edward's "dazzling" may have worked because of his vampiric nature, but it falls flat in 50 Shades because Grey is a normal human being. It's hard enough to believe that ONE person is so utterly blown away by his looks. But literally (and I mean literally) every woman he meets? Hell, I just can't imagine ever being "dazzled" (in the Twilight sense of the word) by someone's looks. By someone's personality, yes. But looks? (And I also find funny people much more attractive than brooding, moody types.)

    And even if I accepted that Ana turns into a cartoon wolf with hearts jumping out of her eyes when she meets Christian for the first time... I just can't accept that she has the same reaction every single time she looks at him. No. This does not happen. I don't mean that she will stop thinking he's gorgeous. But I imagine that eventually the initial "oomph!" wears off.

  2. Well, I do like to look at Matt Bomer, but at the same time, I can't overlook personality. I mean, I read pulp like JD Robb's "In Death" series, with the impossible unicorn-of-a-perfect-man in the character Roarke (who, coincidentally, I wouldn't mind Matt Bomer playing). But despite the tropes of uber-rich and uber-sexy that make up his role as Tempting Male Love Interest (TM), he actually does have a personality that's developed over the series and is played against the female main character's personality. I wouldn't like the character nearly as much if he didn't have a personality. Hell, I didn't like him as much in the beginning of the series, before the author really started building his character. And that proves even pulp is capable of having some depth.
    And I vote for Vonnegut, because I kinda feel bad that I haven't read much Vonnegut. (Plus, he's fun!)

  3. I understand where you're coming from. I never understood why girls were raging over Justin Timberlake (Jay Tee!!) or Brad Pitt in my high school, but I could somehow acknowledge their conventional, "i'm an underwear model" man-beauty. I don't like the pretty-boy type. I prefer handsome ;P And handsome definitely takes into account personality.

  4. Some of the problem here might be that (at least from these short and snappy summaries) EL James spends a significant amount of time describing Christian's body, but not his face (except maybe his warlock eyes). So there's nothing there to anchor in to that would allow us to evaluate that objective beauty standard. For those buying into the fantasy, they can just insert whomever they should like. For those who aren't buying it, though, there's no way of even trying to figure out authorial preferences.

  5. I haven't seen Matt Bomer before, but he reminds me of Christian Bale in American Psycho. Which good-looking? Yes. Sexy? Run away screaming as fast as you can.

  6. B...but I think Matt Bomer is sexy? Like super sexy. I'd tap that :P The character of Christian Grey is a prick though but I've been imagining him as Matt Bomer. Maybe it's just because I recently started watching White Collar. Who knows? It makes me feel weird and slightly scared because I love Matt Bomer. Christian Grey, not so much.