What can conservation learn from the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon?

I am overwhelmed by the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon. I have seen the media hype the book and the movie have received. The public is black-and-white divided on the interpretation of the trilogy; a story portraying abuse of power and women for some and a modern romantic fairy tale with innocent princess and handsome hero for others. People in the theatres have been seen uncontrollably aroused while watching the movie. Others have ended up in jail or sadly dead while reenacting scenes from movies. The story of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele has even inspired police crime prevention campaigns; it has resulted in record sales of Online porn, sex toys sells; and, it has motivated people to educate themselves about sex and BDSM. Finally, some claim that teenagers who watch the movie are doomed to have abusive and violent love relationships.

I have read the first book and I still don’t know why the hype is for. I would like to know how it became so successful in attracting media and inspiring actions, either good or bad ones. Whatever the secret is, I would like to know it. I want to find out so that I could use the same strategy for nature conservation. We have created amazing films and well supported books about conservation issues, yet we are still lagging at inspiring massive behavioural changes as watching the 50 Shades of Grey movie has been seen to do.

Nature defenders are watching us!
Nature defenders are watching us!

I am yet to hear of people massively investing in renewable energy sources after understanding, with the help of the An Inconvenient Truth movie, that the excessive use of oil and coal are warming our planet. We did not stop eating over-exploited fishes or better stop fishing for them after learning from The End of The Line documentary that our fishing resources are at the brink of collapse. Similarly, I believe people continue to visit aquariums worldwide despite learning the negative consequences of taking wild animals, like killer whales, captive when watching The Black Fish movie. And these just are three of the many movies and books about environmental issues.

What do 50 Shades of Grey have that the conservation related movies don’t? It could not just be the sex. There has to be something else that they are missing. Is not novelty either as BDSM and women abuse has unfortunately being around for centuries. It should not be that it involves human beings and their fantasies, love and affection needs or their psychological problems; the green movies involve those things too: desire for a better world, happier life, and human problems like greed and ego centrism. So, what is it then? What does nature conservation need to do to inspire such a phenomenon? What can nature learn from this movie to instigate responsible actions? Help me find out what the secret it as I will definitely include it when developing marine conservation strategies!

About Author

Phanor H Montoya Maya
I believe in a society that is committed to sustainable coral reefs. We can achieve this if we let our inner scientist, explorer, leader and superhero emerge. I provide opportunities for people to do so. I am Marine Biologist (Ph.D.) and SCUBA Diving Instructor specialized in coral reef ecology, connectivity and rehabilitation. I am determined to connect reef users and scientists in order to enhance coral reef conservation in Colombia and abroad. I hope you join me in this new journey.