Published in June 2011, "50 Shades of Grey" has been greeted with a dizzying array of reviews. From adoring and devoted fans to absolute outrage from critics, the books have anything but shied away from controversy. The record breaking series has sold over 70 million copies worldwide. With book rights being sold in 37 countries, it now holds the record for fastest selling paperback of all time, even surpassing the beloved Harry Potter series.
Despite the magnitude of criticism on the literary quality of prose, fans can't seem to get enough of its explicit BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism) scenes. With the film adaptation now casted, the phenom is arguably at an all time high in topical discussions around the globe. But of course, quite often with prosperity comes tremendous dissension.
A British Charity called Wearside Women in Need found England's top selling book not only distasteful but offensive and indicative of condoning abusive relationships. After initially planning a book burning, they opted for a more eco-friendly alternative. On August 23rd of 2012, the charity launched their "50 Shades of Abuse" campaign in which the books pages were used as a sort of toilet tissue. The director of the charitable institution organized the campaign with the firm belief that the best seller's proceeds could be better spent on aiding victims of abuse.
The British Charity was far from isolated in their negative reception of the series. Across the pond in Brevard County, Florida, the debate over banned books had been reignited. Libraries across the state were removing copies due to its explicit content and poor ratings. A library representative announced that many other branches were denying copies of the erotic novels.
But on the other end of the spectrum, "50 Shades of Grey" has reinvigorated marriages and relationships around the world consequently causing the biggest baby boom in 40 years. The year 2013, now dubbed the "50 Shades" of babies year, had its peak of births in February which directly coincides with the books' sales spike in May of 2012.
According to Baby Center's annual list of most popular baby names, it seems as though the class of 2030 will see many more Anastasias and Greys. In fact, the name Grey leaped 20% in prevalence for baby boys. Anastasia increased 10% in popularity with Ana, (the nickname for the trilogy's heroine), climbed 35 notches on the newborn name registry.
The racy trilogy's success has also stirred up some rather bizarre news such as the tale of a British woman citing the novel as grounds for divorce. The 41 year old wife and banker claimed her husband's "boring attitude" toward sex was evidence of "unreasonable behavior," (which in England is one of the five legal grounds for divorce.)
After buying the book upon its release, along with some new provocative lingerie, she had hoped to encourage her spouse to become more adventurous in the bedroom. But not only did her husband spurn her advances, he blamed her sudden metamorphosis on "that bloody book."
Citing his low libido as evidence of the "unreasonable behavior," her husband admitted to her accusations in order to be granted a more swift divorce being without contest. After all, who wants their ex sharing your marital sex life and alleged "low libido" with the world?
Another peculiar yet comical headliner was Harvard University's official establishment of its very own BDSM club, aptly called Harvard Munch.
The contagious mania has also boosted the economy in vast and various ways. From 50 Shades vacation packages, complete with bottles of Pinot Gris to helicopter tours, many hotels and resorts are cashing in on the craze. The popularity of the erotica has had an epic impact on other unexpected industries: from the 450 year old classical music motet (Spem in Alium) which was played during an explicit scene in the novel having suddenly sold in masses to a monumental increase in rope sales at hardware stores.
The "mommy porn" genre has publishers scrambling desperately for more erotic fiction. The book's author, E.L. James has signed with a UK based global marketing agent to expand the brand to merchandising such as lingerie, beauty products, perfume, and of course adult toys. Conclusively, like it or not, this fresh and kinky trend seems to have dug its heels into the masses. Enjoy the ride.