Fifty Shades of BGS

This past spring, the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy became an instant hit, shooting to the top of The New York Times’ bestseller list.  The books’ racy content caught the attention of readers.  That aside, there actually is an underlying storyline that deals with ethics in the workplace.  Unquestionably these books are not acclaimed for their literary greatness, but certainly pertain to BGS in popular culture.

Main character, Christian Grey, has more money than he knows what do with; he is an entrepreneur constantly looking for new companies in which to invest.  His girlfriend, and protagonist of the story, Anastasia Steele lands a job at a publishing house as an editorial assistant upon graduation from college.  Throughout her time in the office, Grey is constantly trying to use his socioeconomic standing to ensure that she has a bright and successful career path.  One such example is when Ana is being forced to fly across the country for a business trip with an unfavorable character from work.  Grey steps in, purchasing the company and putting an immediate injunction on the trip.  Soon after he takes charge of the company, Ana is promoted, definitely not a coincidence.  Is it ethical that she was pushed ahead of those who had worked at the firm for years and were likely more qualified?  Ana was simply promoted because her boyfriend could afford to own the company.

Obviously purchasing the company is an extreme and unrealistic example of using your wealth to manipulate what is taking place in the office, perhaps a less excessive example would have been more effective.  However, it serves to promote the idea that with an abundance of wealth you can ensure that you succeed on the job and get ahead.  Although the actions of Christian Grey are undeniably over the top, it does cause you to stop and think about the influence of those who are the wealthiest within firms in our society today.  Do those with the most money emerge as those with the loudest voices?

The question of ethics in the workplace was not what people walked away from the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy discussing.  However, it is significant that millions of readers were being exposed to a storyline in which wealth was used to trump ethical proceedings in the workplace.  This popular series subconsciously promoted unethical decision-making within business.

2 responses to “Fifty Shades of BGS

  1. I have to admit, the underlying story of this trilogy (based on your synopsis) seems rather interesting. If the crazy sex were taken out, the book could probably be a John Grisham title. Apart from the unethical behavior of the protagonist’s boyfriend, it is important to note why the books became so popular. People who enjoy the books get a thrill out of reading the exploits of the protagonist. Because I never read the trilogy myself, I can only assume that the shock accompanied with the book makes people continue reading to see what happens next. I feel that this is telling of the times currently; people feel they want to escape from their surroundings to a world of excitement. It would be interesting to see if this book can be looked at with a sociological imagination to see the psychological reason for its popularity.

  2. It is unethical. The question is, doe sit happen often? Is the plot device a reflection of reality or more like a common idea (that may be rare). Here is another one, also “racy.” The fantasy that teachers or professors have sexual liaisons with students. In 15 years in higher education as a grad student and professor, I know of 0 cases of an undergraduate and a professor. I mean in my workplaces. A few of graduate students. That is a little trickier.

    But, regardless of the “ick” factor, what if it is “true love?”

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