I wanted to do an erasure of Fifty Shades of Grey for many reasons, the foremost of those concerning its “best-selling” status and widespread readership/consumption, as well as the seemingly unexamined politics or gender relations at work in the book. For instance, while the book itself may push the envelope in its depictions of BDSM, at least in respect to a mass audience, the heteronormative relationship between the two main characters in the book is perhaps not as liberal or progressive (if the book can be said to be that at all), nor are the assumptions that lie behind such a relationship. The book itself is a whopping 689 pages, at least in the copy I obtained online, and thus the amount of material to work with was immense. However, given this amount of material, I wanted to make a more simple erasure, one that really got to the pith or kernel of my particular political motivations in working with the book. Working with erasure is always a seemingly contentious, bold, and political move. Its power lies in the fact that one is merely uncovering what is already at work within the text and putting a more sharp focus on it, that is, using the text’s own words to subvert or enrich it in some way as a means of garnering a new perspective on it. Thus, I erased all the text except for the moments in which the gaze of Grey, the male character, is mentioned. The concept of the gaze can be very powerful in film, television and media, but it also holds a certain power in literature. I wanted to touch on the various power relations at work within the book, and not in the more overt or obvious sense of dominance/submissiveness and its relationship to BDSM (although that certainly figures and bears on the erasure), but rather on the more oblique, perhaps even unconscious, level of the gaze.
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