Beyond the fact that it’s the most egregious, mind-rotting, garbage, that is.
BBC News Magazine is getting its knickers in a twist, over the fact that teenagers are allowed to buy Fifty Shades of Grey. Well, if they want to read it, it serves them right in my view! And it’s legal.
Pre-teens and teenagers have always had an interest in forbidden subjects, and an intense interest in sex and/or naked women, as far as boys are concerned, anyway, goes with the territory. That doesn’t change from generation to generation, though the present one seems more focused on doing it than reading about it, hence the plague of teen pregnancies.
When I was young, Health & Efficiency mags, liberated from a father’s stash, were often passed round and, dog-eared crap though they were, and even at that age we realised it, it was pretty much all that was easily available – hell, it’s a wonder we didn’t grow up equating female genitalia with beach balls!
Then along came a game-changer, Playboy, no longer furtive but out there for all to see – and try to buy – or, as was more traditional, liberate from a father’s stash (though shoplifting it wasn’t entirely unknown – well, it made a change from nicking Airfix kits from Woolies – yes, kiddies, we had other interests too). In my 20s I worked for the company that imported Playboy – so many were siphoned off at the docks it was a minor miracle they made it onto the shelf at WH Smith at all. And, it’s worth mentioning, it was read by the girls in the office too, and probably not for the articles!
Incidentally, viewed from today’s perspective, the uproar over Playboy first showing pubes seems pretty much unbelievable.
Fast-forward to the 21st century and nothing has changed, except that now porn in all its forms is very much more available than it’s ever been – whether that’s good or bad is an argument for another day, but it’s far better, in my view, than the furtive, guilt-ridden, sneaking, secrecy my generation endured. That, by the way, was the fifties when, among adults, you could be forgiven for getting the idea that sex didn’t exist, and babies appeared as if by magic, generated by the mystical twanging of bedsprings!
I doubt any normal teenager would be harmed by Fifty Shades of Drivel, unless it causes them to develop a taste for appallingly bad writing (how James ever found a publisher is beyond me). Anyone who is tipped over to the dark side by it was probably most of the way there already, and doubtless well acquainted with the dingier recesses of the Internet.
The best thing to do is leave the kids alone, because – and it was ever thus – the more adults protest, the more attractive Fifty Shades of Tripe will appear.
What we should be worried about isn’t teenagers knocking each other about as a result of reading tales of poorly-realised BDSM, but knocking each other up, which is a far bigger problem. OK, it shows a healthier interest in sex, though sadly linked to the restraint of a horny gorilla, and really, the last thing we need is more school-age mothers.
One final thought – anyone remember Lord Longford?
The peer, in a spirit of possibly hairy-palmed enquiry, devoted a large chunk of his life to the detailed, up-close and personal, study of pornography, in all it multifarious forms, before announcing to the world that it was quite definitely harmful. To everyone, apparently, except him.
Given that he went on to tell us how wonderful and much-maligned Myra Hindley was, I do wonder about that.