Over the years secular holidays have started to take on different meanings and deeper popular significance than I ever remember from my youth. Halloween, no longer a celebration of saints, has become the second most popular holiday—next to Christmas—with decorations, planning, parties, anticipation, etc., etc. Valentine’s Day is rapidly peaking in interest as a day of sexual frivolity and excess. This year takes us to a new level of hedonism with the premiere of the movie: Fifty Shades of Grey. The movie is the titillating exposé that pays homage to our major false gods: power, pleasure, wealth, and influence.
The anti-hero is Christian Grey, who, of course, is the incarnation of the false gods in their entire array. An “emotionally-damaged” billionaire sadist, Grey goes about the seduction and humiliation of the anti-heroine, Anastasia Steele. It may be interesting to note, if only for the sake of trivia, that Christian is anything but; and Anastasia is true to her patron’s namesake only inasmuch as she is used and abused by a cold and cruel hollow man.
The true sadness of the film (and the book from which it comes), however, is that it is being touted as a “romance” and being marketed “just in time” for your Valentine date night. I truly doubt that there are too many men out there who really would subject their wives or other female friends to this kind of trash as part of an evening celebrating true love. I am told, however, that I am naïve in this belief, so please allow me to invite you into my naïveté.
This movie exalts so much of what is basically wrong in our society and certainly exploits the dismal state of human relationships, especially those between men and women. It surprises me enormously that this book and movie have been so incredibly popular with women. As I perceive it (I have neither read the book nor seen the movie, nor do I intend to) women, above all, should reject the film and repudiate its content as shameful and vile. True feminism should find this glorification of abuse and debasement of women particularly offensive, hardly entertaining.
Alas, the gods of power, pleasure, wealth, and influence, will not allow such a denial of their authority in this day and age. They manifest themselves in stark and bold powerful contradiction to the images of love and devotion, fidelity and commitment, which marked male and female relationships only yesterday in terms of recent human history.
I am reticent to write this today. The gods will have their way with even the little that I say here; nevertheless, I encourage you to avoid the false doctrines of the age. True love can be best expressed within the confines of respect for the beloved, recognition of human freedom and dignity, and the understanding that each other is a gift from God—the real Author of love.
Happy Valentine’s Day. I’ll see you at Sunday Mass.