Twenty-one year old has a heart attack? I recall the first time I heard about sadism—a news story on the radio. I froze in my tracks. What!! Why? Heart condition? The young woman suffered a heart attack and ended up in the emergency room after a sex party. How can this happen? The electric shocks administered proved to be much for her body. Victimized or consensual—beyond horrifying! This story has haunted me for years. In the big picture, Fifty, the student-for-a-sadist romance series, angered and disappointed me. I couldn't help but envision the added level of agony, raging rivers of tears, soul-shredding heartache and searing physical pain that prostitutes, battered women, trafficked teens, and naive young women attempt to survive and will endure because of the popularity of these trendy novels. Someone succinctly said, “ It’s a perfect complimentary plot for an episode of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit”. Agreed.
And while in bookstores for hours at a time, I witnessed grinning high school and college age girls lead their boyfriends, hand-in-hand, to the Fifty display to grab a copy of the novel and leave. As a mother of a son and an adoring aunt to my nieces, two words: totally revolting! Yes, I’ve read all three novels, only to analyze the reason for their success. I also read the Twilight trilogy, irresistible due to the author's prose, her uncanny ability to put me in the scene as if I lived it, and the unusual storyline. I also read The Hunger Games trilogy, awestruck by the gripping plot and fascinating characters. And I’ve read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, completely exotic and spellbinding.
At a minimum, the Fifty series camouflages and glamorizes a dehumanizing, cruel, immoral view—greed for green preempts all else. At a maximum, generations of the very vulnerable, the already victimized and innocent kicked over a cliff. The lives of marginalized, downtrodden, crime victims—already scarred by kidnapping, forced drug use, rape, sexual assault, physical violence to include cigarette burns, razor blades and attempted murder—darkened and damaged once again by three books, which made both BDSM and corrosive relationships more mainstream acceptable practices. More horror heaped upon those whose clients, new and established, never thought of that opportunity until now. Can you imagine waking up stripped of the most basic of freedoms, choosing how to shape your life your day? From the choice to call a friend or your parents or your siblings to the choice of what to wear that day to cuddling with the family dog—all gone. How about the taken for granted shopping trip to the mall or the local Dairy Queen for a Blizzard with a best friend? Gone. How being forced to sell sex hour after hour of every day? Sick, pregnant or sad. How about the choice of when to sleep, when to eat and what to eat? And most trafficked teens won’t escape their captors. According to author and lecturer Jerome Elom, the life span of a trafficked teen—only 7 years.
Without question, Fifty has certainly added jagged daggers of withering sorrow to the abysmal lives of many emotionally-bankrupt human beings who struggle day-to-day to survive in the hopes that tomorrow may offer a chance to leave a nightmare, a chance to re-claim their bodies, families and souls.