Haters are Going to Hate “50 Shades of Grey”

In the article, “To the women of America: 4 reasons to hate 50 Shades of Grey,” Matt Walsh recently called for the boycott of what he expects to be a terrible movie – 50 shades of grey. According to him you shouldn’t watch this movie because:

1. Because you aren’t stupid.
2. Because you don’t go for cynical, boring, corporate marketing ploys.
3. Because you’re a Christian (and the sex portrayed in the movie isn’t Christian sex).
4. Because you’re a feminist (and feminists “supposedly” abhor dominance).

fifty-shades-greyAccording to Walsh, “This is some very, very stupid material. It reads like a thesaurus procreated with a script from a soft core porn and then the baby fell into a vat of Lifetime Channel DVDs. My inner goddess is rolling her eyes, my inner brain is hurting.”

The reasons he provided for boycotting the movie, came with a number of what I perceive to be faulty notions (only stupid people enjoy stupid movies, any movie that isn’t “art” is not worth watching, feminists hate all forms of dominance, etc). But that’s beside the point. The point I’m trying to make is that, in all social circles, of varying intellectual capacity, there will always be people like Mr. Walsh.

We call them haters.

Haters can’t stand it when other people make movies about a premise they don’t like. Haters don’t like it when other people like things that they don’t. The movie, “50 Shades of Grey,” maybe crappy to haters, and the high-brow, intellectuals they hang out with, but is it really necessary to shame people who like things that haters don’t?

The hater attitude is common among critics and connoisseurs. They never fail to point out how their tastes and preferences are superior to yours, and they make you feel embarrassed or inadequate for not being able to tell the difference between cheap and expensive gin, or between good and bad poetry.

However, this attitude is not exclusive to them. It’s just as notorious in rational circles.Greta Cristina wrote about this in her article, “More Rational Than Thou: When Atheists Buy the “Straw Vulcan” Fallacy.”

In the article, Cristina discusses how she appreciates the rational community’s habit of calling out each other’s bullshit. She likes the fact that atheists and skeptics don’t have sacred cows. However, she’s annoyed that some atheists and skeptics make value statements on subjective concerns. In other words, atheists and skeptics have a tendency to treat subjective questions as if they were objective.

Cristina argues that when it comes to questions with definite answers, rationality is the best way to find out what those answers are. However, not all questions are about objective reality.

“Some questions are subjective. The answers aren’t the same for everybody. If you enjoy drinking/ sports/ fashion/ pets, then you do. If it’s true for you, then it’s true,” writes Cristina.

Even in philosophy, there’s a term for matters that are not within the domain of what can be explained, understood, evaluated, or analyzed using pure reason: arational, or non-rational. There are simply situations in life where people do things for no other reason than, “it makes them happy.” If one commits an sub-optimal decision, based on a preference, its not evidence for how their rationality has failed them.

For example, Cristina writes, “I could make pragmatic arguments in favor of pet ownership: there’s some evidence that it reduces stress, and so on. But that’s not really relevant. Even if none of that stuff were true, I would still own cats. They make me happy. And when I’m talking about my own personal happiness, the subjective evaluation is the only one that matters.”

However, subjective evaluation should not be applied to all concerns. Rationality should still be applied to questions concerning what’s real and what isn’t; for example – the existence of God. Based on the same logic, that of subjective evaluation, people might begin to claim, “If my religion is true for me, then it’s true.” Well, unfortunately, it’s not.

Cristina explains:

“The question of whether God or the supernatural exists is not a subjective question of what’s true for us personally. It’s an objective question of what’s literally true in the real, non-subjective world. Any given god either exists, or doesn’t. And when it comes to questions of objective reality, rationality is the best tool we have for understanding it.”

In other words, it’s okay to challenge the rationality of people who think that evolution is not real, because there is overwhelming evidence to support evolution. However, it’s not okay to challenge the rationality of people who enjoy reading “50 Shades of Grey,” because the value of the book is based on a person’s subjective preferences, not on objective, observable facts. Even if there was a standard that judged that “50 Shades of Gray” was an objectively terrible book, with objectively terrible dialogue, it wouldn’t be irrational to read it and enjoy it, if that was the sort of thing you liked.

I guess, regardless of which circle we come from, we all need the self-awareness to identify when we’re making a rational argument based on objective reality, or expressing a subjective opinion based on a personal standard of value. Matt Walsh wasn’t completely inaccurate with his disparaging remarks on what the movie version of a terrible book would be like. “50 Shades of Grey” does have bad dialogue. It does have a weird plot. There are many rational arguments for not watching this movie. However, our preferences are not entirely determined by rationality.

It’s not irrational to like bad literature or bad movies. But it is irrational to use rationality as the sole standard for evaluating arational or non-rational concerns.

1 comment

  1. The book the movie is based on is just one of the worst (not even) erotic fiction I’ve ever read. Eugh. My opinion is probably colored by my aversion for any sort of master/slave sexual play, though.

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here