Thursday, December 12, 2013

Shades Of Occupy In New Social Movement

Article written by George Stefano Pallas.  Views, bad writing, and excruciating double-entendres expressed by the author are his alone and do not necessarily reflect nor should be construed as those of the Author.

The official graphic associated with Shaders; this must have taken a really long time to put together.

A large group of five protestors has assembled on a sidewalk in south Los Angeles to exercise their entitlement of civil disobedience.  Waving cleverly hued, multi-saturated banners and reaching out to passers-by, they are people on a mission that their leader Elton James summarizes as “To remind the American people that we are the 49 Shades, and to clarify that we won’t answer to the 50th anymore.”

A vocal member of a grass-roots, progressive movement that’s gaining steam across the nation in the wake of a widening income gap, James is basing his peaceful but hardcore demonstration deep in the lore of a bestselling dystopian fiction series by Ayn Rand.  Although books in the genre, from “1984” to “The Hunger Games” trilogy, have often inspired fierce intercourse among readers about police surveillance, desensitization to violence, and social justice among other things, none of them have yet aroused a more passionate political revolution than Rand’s iconic and still relevant 50 Shades Arc.

The first installment in the appropriately sprawling saga of many volumes is entitled “50 Shades of Grey” and was published at the height of the Kennedy administration in November of 1963, a time at which income inequality was a major concern for a middle class being rapidly stripped down by economic expansions beyond their control.  Keeping with a personal fantasy that permeates many of her works, Rand imagines an America of the near future, in this case where the Union colors have been replaced with the Confederate, the States supplanted with income- and ethnicity-based castes called Shades, and the Constitution discarded in favor of a pure democratic people’s republic.  The Shades are tied up in a neverending struggle for political domination over each other, and the events of the books play out in the present tense from the intimate, 1st-person perspectives of several characters occupying the subservient Shades of the country, as they endure sadistic abuses from the ruling Shades in the majority.

Although most of Rand’s books have learned to the far right-wing in their views on trickle-down economics and extreme individualism, the Shades Arc has followed the footsteps of “Hunger Games” in evoking graphic displays of support from both sides of the aisle.  At the series’ core is obviously the question of whether the majority in any society has a civil right to bind the minority to its pleasure, and whether the weak should masochistically submit themselves to the dominance of the powerful.

But readers are largely divided on the answer to these tough questions.  James says to the Files representative, “It’s obviously a condemnation of upper-class privilege, unbalanced wealth distribution, and legal obstructions to social progress.  It’s the 49 Shades against the 50th in America.  The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”  Indeed, “We Are The 49 Shades” has become the main anthem of the reformational movement dubbed Shading and championed by millennials that’s thrusting its message all around urban areas.

Tea Party figures, however, have long held the books in equally high regard and vehemently denounce this new interpretation as a disgusting, unnatural, and exploitative perversion of Rand’s actual text.  “Who is the 50th Shade?” is their bumper sticker of choice, and they assert that the series consistently portrays members of minority-Shades in a sympathetic rather than a negative shade.

Whichever side is right, Rand’s novels have lately been whipping all their competition into the dust, climaxing at the #1-50 spots on many sales charts last March and finally securing a movie deal from Young-Adult mammoth Lionsgate shortly after that.  Just as Tom Clancy’s career flourished following a shout-out from Ronald Reagan, the 50 Shades Arc has benefited from extensive publicity and endorsements by celebrities.  President Bill Clinton has stated that he applies ideas from it throughout his daily life, and Kim Jong Un has credited it for making him a gentler husband to his wives and more benevolent ruler-deity to his people.

Last September, Texan Senator Ted Cruz notoriously delivered a 21-hour filibuster against the President’s signature health care reform law in which he read selections from the 44th and most controversial entry of the series, “Do You Like Shades Of Grey And Ham?” which even the most loyal Rand scholars disparage as a monotonous, purposely evasive, and utterly ineloquent attempt at poetry.

Cruz, already a noted fan of “Atlas Shrugged” and unapologetic follower of Rand’s Objectivist philosophy of unfettered, unchained capitalism, isn’t surprised either that the 50 Shades have become such a hot commodity in today’s action-driven literary climate.  “The books are like porn,” he admits with a laugh.  “Once you start them, you can’t stop.”

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