Okay, I had one of those flashes today where I remembered that, “Oh, yeah, I started my own blog to talk/bitch about the things that are just too long to put on twitter or facebook.” And I have oh, so much bubbling up that I want to bitch about right now. And seeing as how I just turned 30, I think I’ve reached stage 1 of “a little older, a little wiser.” Therefore I feel justified when I say that I’m going to make it a point to not censor myself quite so much when dealing with the public. So here we go:
I will be honest and begin by saying that I have not read EL James’s 50 Shades trilogy, nor do I plan to, [edited to add: now, to my dismay, I am reading them to point out all of the blatant plagiarism] but I know enough about the story thanks to various sources to confidently state that I don’t need to read it to know that I don’t like it. In fact, I fucking hate it.
Let’s break down some of my reasons, not necessarily in order of relevance:
1) I already read The Twilight Saga. For your sake, don’t dare tell me that 50 shades is not Twilight. Why? Because it fucking is.
Since I have read Meyer’s vampire books, I don’t need to read 50 Shades to catch the major plot points: female protagonist in an unwanted situation meets dark, brooding, unattainable guy who is no good for her and they have an instant connection; they face some danger; they deal with a separation; they realize they love each other; other guys aim for the girl’s affection but ultimately lose out; some other random dangerous/tense things happen; the main characters end up getting married; there is an unexpected pregnancy; eventually everything works out to happily ever after. Did I miss much? If you want more proof, we can go scene for scene, but I don’t want to waste my money on 50 shades.
The thing here is, all of this works so much better when the characters are teenaged vampires, and the reader doesn’t have to slog through a sex scene after every single damned plot twist. Because I can get that you will have to deal with constant danger at every turn when your lover and pretty much every one he associates with want to use you as a snack. I can see, because of that, why he might accidentally hurt you from time to time. I can even buy the hero being an OCD control freak when he is a 100+ year old vamp, even if it does make him an asshole.
2) Lack of plot, which kind of ties into reason 1.
If you just remove all of the vampire-werewolf bits, you leave a lot of holes. You can’t just randomly fill those holes with sex. If an erotic novel -or even just a plain old romance- is going to be good, the sex, while arousing and exciting, must be a natural part of the narrative. Your characters can’t just randomly say, “Oh, this seems like a good time to bump uglies! Come on, let’s go at it because we’ve passed about five pages without getting in on.” Plots, they matter.
3) That fucking hypocrite.
EL James had her people squash some 50 shades themed party because, according to her agent, “You can’t just hijack something someone else owns.”
I don’t really want to mention the name “50 shades” anymore for fear that EL James will try to sue me for plagiarism. (Okay, I will pause to let that one sink in. Go ahead, LOL, you know you want to.)
4) The writing is just so….
Shall I even talk about the writing? No, I haven’t read the whole thing, but just the excerpts are painful. Especially for me, a recent college graduate with a degree in English. (Damn you, EL James!!!!!)
5) This is not BDSM, and EL James should be ashamed of herself for trying to portray it as such when she clearly has no fucking clue what she is talking about. This book romanticizes an abusive relationship.
BDSM involves consenting adults who know what they are getting into, and who understand and abide by boundaries. IF YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE AGREEING TO, YOU ARE NOT A CONSENTING ADULT. In a true BDSM scenario, the partners will know what each other likes/dislikes, they can tell if things are going to far, and they don’t just abandon their partner if that partner is clearly shaken.
Beating a woman to tears when she clearly does not want you to do so is abuse. Making a woman feel inferior to yourself is abuse. Refusing to let a grown woman make her own decisions, including what to wear in public is abuse. Buying the company your girlfriend works for because you want ultimate control of her job is abuse. Manipulating a woman so that she feels responsible for every bad thing that ever happened to you is abuse. Marking a woman’s body with bruises because she made you mad is abuse.
You women who thought this was so great, and who fantasize about Christian Grey, HOW CAN YOU NOT SEE THIS????
Let’s do a quick exercise: Imagine your daughter, or your sister, your cousin, aunt, best friend, even your own mother, stuck in the situation that Ana is in. Think about her constantly being demeaned, hurt both physically and emotionally. Think about the way she cries about it, but then sucks up and hides her tears for fear that it will anger him further, because she is scared of how he will react. HOW IS THAT SEXY?!?!?
[edited to add: Also, people reading this shit suddenly think they can role play in a BDSM environment, and people are getting hurt as a direct result. Like in this story.]
6) Seriously, how is this book supposed to be considered so damned sexy? The “heroine” can’t even say “vagina,” she has to say “down there.” Down where? The fucking floor? The wrong side of the tracks? Australia?
This book is supposed to be electrifying the sex lives of hundreds of thousands of women worldwide because it is “ohmigodjustsohot!!!”?
What? WHAT?! Okay, sex-scene wise I only know what happens up through chapter 4 of the third book that James “wrote,” because that’s how far Jenny Trout has gotten with her chapter-by-chapter recaps, but if anything wild had popped up yet, I’m pretty damned sure Jenny would have mentioned it by now. She’s brutally honest. And awesome. (Seriously, check out her recaps.)
So back on topic, “Come on!” (Yeah, for those who got it, I just did that.) This is supposed to be the hottest, sexiest stuff out there? Aside from the whole ‘he riding-cropped her clit’ thing, which would surely earn a punch in the face from me, there is apparently nothing in this “erotic” book that hasn’t happened in my own normal (at least I thought it was normal) married sex life.
This makes me feel so much pity for hundreds of thousands of women. If this is unbelievably over-the-top sexy times, what had their sex lives previously been like? No, actually I don’t want to know. These women need some new literature. They don’t even need to go out and buy real Erotica, because I doubt their hearts could take it.
Okay, go into the Romance section, check out some Abigail Barnette, Karen Marie Moning, Christine Rimmer, or Beatrice Small (that is just a small sampling off the top of my head; really there are so many, many great romance writers out there). Women of the world, read some of that, and then go out and get some real Erotica if you think you can handle it. And once you’ve finished that, tell me how hot 50 shades is. I dare you.
…but maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m being harsh. Then again, I am one of those silly English majors who actually learned the craft, in my case going so far as to minor in Creative Writing. I sit at home dreaming of the day I get published. I meticulously comb over every word, sentence, and paragraph that I write to make sure my prose doesn’t clunk along like a drunk elephant.
I’m hovering just above the “starving artist” level, and only doing so well because my husband works his ass off six days a week so that I can stay at home to take care of the kids and write in my spare time. As it is, I’m line drying clothes in the middle of a wet winter for a family of five because we don’t have the extra cash to fix or replace our poor, broken dryer. Meanwhile, E.L. James is making millions from a fanfic. I might be a little bit bitter, jealous even. Just maybe.
No, I stand by my previous assessment: That book is a poorly written, ripped off, unsexy, domestic abuse romanticising piece of tripe, and it pisses me off every time someone defends/glorifies it. I really, really hate that fucking book.