Bookish Blatherings #17: Morality in Books

Posted February 16th, 2015 in Bookish Blatherings, My Features / 35 comments

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Welcome to Bookish Blatherings, a Bad Bird Reads feature where I ramble about bookish or bloggerish things and hopefully you will join in on the discussion.

I was so desperate to talk bookish stuff on Friday (I was at Urgent Care with my mom. I have a cold and I lost like 50% of my hearing in my right ear. It was scary. The doctor said he didn’t see anything wrong. Seriously!!!??? I can’t hear out of my ear, a-hole!!! Anyways, I put a hot compress on it since the doctor gave me jackshit and it helped) that I started talking to my mom about bookish subject and I could slowly see her eyes glaze over. That’s when I knew this conversation was wasted on her. It’s why I have you guys. To talk about bookish stuff that randomly pops into my head.

So here is what I was thinking about. Fifty Shades of Grey the movie is finally out. I have not watched it yet, but I plan to see it with my friend so we can giggle over it. But I have been reading the reviews on it. A lot of people are saying that it condones or promotes domestic abuse and violence. Now, I don’t want to get into that heavy topic because I could talk all day, but I was wondering about something else.

I feel like with books, I am okay with situations I wouldn’t be in real life. Same with movies. If a book has an aggressive guy in it bossing and pushing the heroine around, sometimes it sexy, but in real like that sucker would be punched…multiple times…in throat…by me.

gif throat punch

I was reading these Fifty Shades movie reviews (not by bloggers but my newspapers and magazines) and rolling my eyes. I totally get if someone personally doesn’t like a movie. More power to them. But I just wanted to yell, “It’s a movie, not real life, can’t you just enjoy the silliness without getting caught up in Christian being overbearing, stalkerish, and a bit sadistic towards Ana?” (I know, it sounds so wrong) I mean, the point of the movie and book is that Christian is 50 shades of fucked up. He starts out as an anti-hero, then grows with each installment. Of course people aren’t going to like him. But do we really need to take it down the road of the movie encouraging domestic abuse? I guess it’s the same argument that video games promote violence. It’s a tricky subject.

gif fifty shades 4

But I am getting off point. What I am wondering is if it’s wrong that I can enjoy a book/movie that “promotes” violence in some way? I know it’s fiction, I also know it could happen in real life. But sometimes I just want to get lost in a story, not debate the ethics of it. I just read a book that crossed a lot of lines. Three, Two, One by JA Huss is a rough book to handle and many people will hate it, but I could see past it’s aggression and violence and enjoy the fun, beautiful parts. Is that wrong?

Should I be more concerned over violence in books (and movies), or is it okay to enjoy a story despite what it “promotes”?

Am I the only one who finds it tedious to argue over the morality of all the books we read?

Or do serious subjects in books need to be discussed since they can be real world problems?

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35 Responses to “Bookish Blatherings #17: Morality in Books”

  1. Bieke @ Istyria book blog

    Hmmm, I think that depends on the book. Some books handle such topics well, and I don’t have a problem with them at all because of that. But some don’t and then I feel kind of guilty for enjoying them. As for FSoG… Well, I would probably see it for the same reason as you, to giggle over it. That doesn’t mean I condone the behavior for the characters in the movie, but I see it for what it is. It’s a movie. Fiction. 😛

    • Jennifer Bielman

      I agree. It’s a movie, let’s have fun with it. But some books do do delicate topics better than others.

  2. Red Iza

    It depends on how the book is written, how the character evolves. In 50SoG, I didn’t hate but didn’t love Christian, but Ana got immediately on my nerves. Last year, I read a rock romance book that made me so angry, I promised myself I would never read this author again (Brandie Buckwine – Fighting Faith). When I read the reviews on GR, not many readers were disturbed by the violence and near rape I saw in there, they rooted for the romance even if the main characters never had a single proper conversation ! So, am I too uptight ? Do I hate men ? I personally don’t think so, but… It’s hard for me, when I’ve met in real life so many women abused, to find readers wooing a despicable hero and finding him romantic… It seems to me it’s laying the ground for possible abusers.

    • Jennifer Bielman

      I never thought of that. It does depend on the reader and her or her friend’s experiences. That can change how you enjoy a book. I have problems with books with rape in them, where other people can let it roll off their backs.

  3. Caro @ The Book Rogue

    I think this is one of my personal peeve subjects. I totally hate when people say something promotes violence, etc. We live in a violent world, thank you very much, and if fiction tells me a twisted jerk 50 or more shades of fucked up can turn around for a woman, I for one want to believe that — because it’s alot less likely to happen in real life. In real life, you need perscription drugs and years of therapy.

    In a fictional world, I want things that cannot or should not happen in real life, book or movie or game doesn’t matter. That’s the sole reason we categorize in fiction and non-fiction. If I want to read how to defend myself against domestic violence, I have to scratch all romantic notions and get myself a hotline or group or book on the subject, but not a work of fiction. And no matter how contemporary the romance, fiction is still fiction.

    Seriously, I believe people who say stuff like that have never thought about creating fiction themselves. Because I personally have come up with some sadistic shit for my stories, but that doesn’t mean I’d ever do that in real life, or would in any way support things like it. Ever. I pity people who can’t keep the two worlds separate, because they are just jealous since they don’t have one ounce of imagination.

    That being said, I’m going to watch the movie as well, but I highly doubt it will do anything to me but make me giggle, just like you. ^^

    • Jennifer Bielman

      Well said!!! I totally agree. I create some scary shit in my stories too. I was in a critique group once, and one guy said (after reading my story) that I needed psychological help or I needed to kill myself because I was sick in the head. Seriously!

      • Caro @ The Book Rogue

        Omg, someone really said that about your writing? I would’ve laughed my ass off and offered to take him to the psych ward instead. Maybe someone coukld help him re-adjust his too tight screws… x) What did you do with that kind of critique?

        • Jennifer Bielman

          Yup, can you believe it!? I told him that maybe he should read a Stephen King book and see how much “crazy” money he gets for his “psychological” problems. lol He was kick out of the group after that. He was so hostile.

  4. kimbacaffeinate

    I totally get what you are saying Jennifer..and most of the time agree, this is fiction -Fantasy..not real life and I don’t get worked up about it as much. I do see the other side of the coin, where it can make violence look sexy..

    • Jennifer Bielman

      I can see it both ways too, but I do think as an adult, most of use can separate the violence from sex and not put up with the bad version.

  5. kindlemom1

    I hope your hearing comes back fully, scary!

    As for book and movie stuff, I agree, I accept way more in books from guys (like the alpha make) than I ever would in real life. I know the difference between fiction and non-fiction but would I want my girls to think that behavior is okay in real life? Absolutely not!

    I guess it is a fine line either way.

    • Jennifer Bielman

      True, having kids can change our perspective, that’s for sure. It’s a very fine line.

  6. Jaclyn Canada

    I won’t get into 50 and whether or not it promotes domestic violence because I could go on forever. Here’s another way to look at this…when Harry Potter came out it ‘promoted witchcraft’. I had someone tell me that J.K. Rowling was possessed by the devil and living in a basement while writing the books. I don’t go into things looking for it trying to corrupt me, so I don’t see that and it really has no way of messing with my morals. So I can see why others may feel that way, but it has no bearing on what I take away from it.

  7. Lekeisha

    Seeing as I have f**k else to do on my day off, I’m heading to see it in about an hour or so. I was going to wait until it comes out on DVD, but I’m a curious b***h who has zero patience.

    I read some reviews about domestic violence as well. WTH? I mean, why would this movie promote it and noothers? I just think that people don’t want to support this franchise, as it will surely be by the time the last installment ends.

    I have my reasons for feeling a little indifference towards the author, because of things that she’s said.

    • Jennifer Bielman

      I can so see what you are saying. People want to poo poo over this series because it makes them look cool or something. I just enjoy the silliness of it.

  8. Lily

    I totally get where your coming from. At the end of the day this is fiction and it’s not real. That’s part of the reason why i’m pretty lenient when it comes to these types of things. I can bend my inhibitions and not get too worked up over things. That being said, there are something’s I do not condone and If I feel they are being overly romanticized in books I feel the need to put my foot down. Great discussion topic!

    • Jennifer Bielman

      Hey, you don’t enjoy what you don’t enjoy, that’s perfectly legit. I just hate when people don’t like something because of stupid reasons.

  9. Giselle

    I’ve been sick all weekend with a cold, too, so I share your pain! I often lose hearing in my ears when I have a cold, it’s from sinuses and should come back to normal after a week or 2! I also feel the same about books – I don’t expect my own morals to be shared by the characters. I don’t usually get bothered by slut-shaming and other things that many readers get fed up with. I mean these people are not me, and let’s face it, some people call other people sluts and that’s just life so to me that makes a character realistic. Especially if they’re teenagers who insult each other like no other (even their own friends). I haven’t read enough of 50 shades to have much of an opinion, but it sounds like people are making such a huge deal about it. O_O it’s fiction, if you don’t like it, don’t read/watch it. Simple as that!

    • Jennifer Bielman

      Seriously!!! Everyone is getting this damn cold. Happy to hear this hearing thing is common amongst colds.

      I swear, people are watching 50 Shades just to rage on it. It fiction, people!!! Get over it, you know?

  10. Alreem

    when I read a book I don’t really think about if this book is good or bad, I mean I guess to me it is okay to enjoy a story despite what it promotes. I mean reading books means everything is possible becasue what we read doesn’t mean it is right or wrong but only that it is a possiblity. and after all books are FICTION

    • Jennifer Bielman

      I like that. “what we read doesn’t mean it is right or wrong but only that it is a possibility” So true!

  11. Benish K

    I think it mainly depends on the book, but I totally understand what you’re saying – I personally am not a fan of 50, but I find it harsh when others bash others on why they like it. As long as a person can tell fiction from real life, it’s alright.. It doesn’t necessarily mean the author believes that it’s okay to be “violent.” They’re mainly showing characters through fiction.

    • Jennifer Bielman

      Exaclty! Why rag on the author? If she is a bad writer, then whatever, but the story is just a story. Enjoy it or don’t.

  12. Melliane

    Ah yes it’s pretty impressive to see the different opposite reviews, it’s really really different. I remember a friend telling on facebook that she didn’t understand how it was possible to see things like that so opposite for only one movie. I haven’t seen it but I’ll go on Friday so we’ll see but I confess that I’m curious. I liked the book even if it’s not at all my fave but I want to see how it is. I think many wanted it to be really hard and it’s not so they were disappointed. You know in France it’s just not allowed under 12. But I agree movies, books, it’s not real life.

    • Jennifer Bielman

      I am going to probably see it Friday as well. I liked the book, but no, it’s not the best written.

  13. Christy

    ” it condones or promotes domestic abuse and violence”

    What the fuck ever. I read the first book and thought is it was boring. But it pisses me off that people are using this as a bases for BDSM – barf, poor representative. And then judging something they obviously have no idea how it can really be.

    There’s been 2 times I got pissed at a book over violence, because they were YA. One – the dude punched the chick in the face so hard for defying him, even his men were shocked. She healed quickly, but still. Then he tied her to a tree, and starved her. Oh, but then they suddenly realized they were in love. WHAT??? No. It was the way it all went don’t that I couldn’t condone, knowing young girls were reading and swooning over it. Sick. There was another one, but I’ll save it for another time. lol. But other than that, I’m more chill when it comes to books.

    • Jennifer Bielman

      Yeah, in YA, you have to be carful, those minds can still be molded. But this is an adult book, lets act like fucking adults and enjoy or hate it, but don’t bring what it “condones” into it. Just stupid.

  14. Olivia

    Hmm this was actually a very good subject for a discussion post! First things first – I am glad your ear is okay now. As for books, I have a split open on this. Sometimes I read things I don’t agree with just because I want to understand those situations better or gain some insight. Just because we don’t agree with suicide or emotional abuse, does it mean we should stop reading about them? The answer to that is no. As for this book, I am not sure. I mean, if you don’t mind reading it and know it isn’t a reality then I think it would be okay. You won’t be carrying any of these ideals into real life. But I understand what people say because what we read does affect us. It’s really up to you! And I guess there are people like this in real life who like BDSM and all that stuff as well.

    • Jennifer Bielman

      I wonder what BDSM people think about it. I think most of us are adults and can see when this book/movie gets silly without saying it condone violence.

  15. Liza Barrett

    I’m totally fine with socially amoral themes in most books — it’s fiction, and part of the role of fiction is to allow people to step outside of their comfort zones in ways they would never be able to do for real. Now, there are times when I think this kind of thing might be taken too far, but that normally depends on the quality of the writing and the way the various characters react. If something totally traumatic happens, I expect the character to be uncomfortable in some way.

    As for 50 shades … Well, I can only honestly say that I’ve only read the first book, and I don’t remember terribly much of it at all. I will say that I personally don’t think it’s fair for all things BDSM to be associated with domestic abuse, etc. I don’t know if 50 Shades crossed a line or something, but the whole darker side of erotica (both in literature and in real life) seems to have taken a hit as being something completely awful, and I don’t think that’s fair. Some of the healthiest relationships in my circle of friends have spent a decent dose of time in BDSM territory and I simply don’t think that having a Dom/sub relationship should be portrayed as wrong if that happens to be what works (in fiction or otherwise).

    That’s, honestly, probably the main reason I get annoyed at people who expect all books, movies, and video games to uphold generally accepted morals — there are often very acceptable reasons to be “amoral,” depending on how society defines the term.

    Good post, and thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Jennifer Bielman

      Very well said. I think it was a lot of what Christian said and how he treated Ana that made people upset. Then add BDSM and they start yelling abuse.

  16. Tabitha (not yet read)

    One of my favorite parts is reading the comments section on discussions like this. I haven’t read or watched it so I can’t comment on the title itself but seriously some people really enjoy these types of stories and what one person might view as abuse another person might enjoy. Take that movie The Secretary for instance. I loved that movie but I think it probably got a bunch of flack from people as well. There are just so many judge mental people out there that want to push their views on others about what is right and wrong. I think everyone can’t help but be a little judgemental but for fictional entertainment I think people just need to not try to force their opinions on others as the “right” opinion. I do still like reading reviews and opinions tho because ultimately I am curious what different folks think. It when they get all crazy vehemenent about it that I step away.

    • Jennifer Bielman

      I love all kinds of reads. Sometimes rough stuff is fin to read about, or scary stuff, or just plain stuff. It’s all fun to me. So I never judge others for what they like. I am always careful in my reviews what I say about a book since I know other people like certain things that I might not.

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