I feel I mustn't miss the opportunity of wishing all my readers (especially younger ones - not that romance need ever die!) Happy Valentine's Day. (If you're not "in a relationship" and hate the whole Valentine's thing, don't stop reading. I think our society overrates it, as I'll mention later.) In the film of the musical the orphan Oliver sings that plaintive little song, "Where is love? Does it fall from skies above?" It is the question of every human being. However you will not find the answer, I'm convinced, by watching the film, Fifty Shades of Grey, specially released for the weekend "of love".
There's an excellent article by Dr Miriam Grossman which I urge you to read in its entirety, headlined A psychiatrist's letter to young people about 50 Shades of Grey. It starts like this:
"I help people who are broken inside. I ask questions, and listen carefully to the answers.
One thing I've learned is that young people are utterly confused about love — finding it and keeping it. They make poor choices, and end up in lots of pain.
I don't want you to suffer like the people I see in my office, so I'm warning you about a new movie called Fifty Shades of Grey. Even if you don't see the film, its toxic message is seeping into our culture, and could plant dangerous ideas in your head.
Fifty Shades of Grey is being released for Valentine's Day, so you'll think it's a romance, but don't fall for it. The movie is actually about a sick, dangerous relationship filled with physical and emotional abuse. It seems glamorous, because the actors are gorgeous, have expensive cars and planes, and Beyonce is singing. You might conclude that Christian and Ana are cool, and that their relationship is acceptable.
Don't allow yourself to be manipulated! The people behind the movie just want your money; they have no concern whatsoever about you and your dreams.Abuse is not glamorous or cool. It is never OK, under any circumstances...."
The writer outlines and answers 6 myths that the film (and contemporary culture) promotes. I heard Jamie Dorman, the lead male, defending the film's abusive relationship on the grounds that it was "consensual" and therefore OK. What rubbish! As the psychiatrist concludes,"There's no room for doubt: An intimate relationship that includes violence, consensual or not, is completely unacceptable.
And what about those who aren't romantically attached? Well, we should remind ourselves that romantic love is neither the highest nor most fulfilling of loves, including as it does naturally a large element of self-gratification - the reason it so readily gives rise to abuse. Friendship, family affection, and selfless love are great gifts. Of which the greatest is the last.
"This is black and white. There are no shades of grey here. Not even one."