50 shades, 50 shades abuse, 50 shades of plagiarism, 50 shades plagiarism, 50shades of Theft, 50shades pilfired, bad writing, domestive violence, plagiarism, twilight
Well, we’re back.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, spambots and procrastinators, I give you 50shades of Theft: 50shades Pilfered. In case you are new here, this is the plagiarism exploration of EL James’s Fifty Shades Darker, in which we expose every theme, idea, character, and plot point that was directly ripped off from Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight. (I’m not talking about fanfic inspired by, I’m talking about the entire frame of the story being copied.) Well, I might not spot “every” bit of plagiarism; I am only human, and I’m sure I’ll miss some bits here and there. To get started, check out the previous posts, or just take a refresher with 50shades of Theft: The Final Countdown.
Before we get into chapter one, there is the prologue to be addressed, because every good Twilight rip-off has to have a dream sequence prologue to set up the tone of the book.
Or in this case, it serves as a badly executed plot device to make the reader give allowances to the jack-wagon that is Christian Grey. SPOILER: It’s ineffective.
Also, because I got tired of copying, organizing, and condensing our text conversations, this time around Bug and I just logged into an instant messenger. We’ll see if this is easier to keep up with.
Kody: This book has already made me dumber. Okay, the Prologue, here’s what I have to say about it: What the fuck purpose does this serve in the story?
Bug: For setting up that Christian had an abusive early childhood, aka “shit we already knew.” Because really, “he smells nasty. of cigarettes and drink.” WTF toddler thinks of it as “drink?” I mean, I used to work at a group home for sexually abused children. Every single story will make your hair curl if it’s straight or go straight if it’s curly. I sympathize with the image of a young child being beaten for no other reason than his mother’s pimp is trying to get her off the couch and back on the stroll. It’s a fucked up situation, I won’t deny.
Kody: I think ELJ was like, “this will make him seem like a more human character. This will make everyone like him.”
Bug: I think you’re right.
Kody: And I’m like, “no, these memories should be incentive for him to NOT be such an asshole in his adult life, not an excuse for it.”
Bug: In that particular job, I read some true horror stories. So the fact that the prologue didn’t specify what happened after the pimp found him led my mind down some very dark paths.
THAT BEING SAID: the whole point of my group was to give therapy to those kids and “rehabilitate,” for lack of a better term, the ones that had begun to act out sexually toward others. If Grace and Carrick had truly been that concerned for Christian, they would’ve gotten him into therapy EARLY. When I left that job in Georgia, NONE of the kids that had come through our care had gone on to become abusers themselves, and that was according to a report from the state itself. So, having worked with an organization whose whole purpose was to “fix broken kids,” I feel comfortable calling bullshit on this whole series. Being abused does not lead to being an abuser, especially with proper therapy while the child is still young, not therapy he has to seek when he’s a legal adult.
I’ve seen therapy turn broken lives around. We never see that Christian’s adoptive parents sent him to therapy. Given how much minutiae this series gives, and how much it attempts to paint a back story, I have to call shitty parenting on Grace and Carrick until I see it specifically mentioned otherwise. You can’t just take in a kid from an abusive past and expect them to be perfect. You both need to adjust to each other.
Kody: I’m with you in regards to the whole therapy thing. And from what I understand, if a young child had come from such circumstances, and was just plopped in a new home, regular therapy would have been a requirement. Not just a recommendation.
Bug: I’m 90% certain it was, at least in Georgia. My group ran a summer camp for kids adopted out of the state foster system, and one thing was their old therapists were there to meet their new parents and be sure everyone was adjusting well. 99.9999% of the time it was happy endings, because the kids were given therapy for transitioning. I mean, I can’t imagine that Georgia, a very red state (outside of the cities of Atlanta, Savannah, and Macon) has better social programs than Michigan, even if they were through private groups.
So basically, the only things I’m getting from the prologue are: a) Christian’s mom had an abusive pimp, which we already kind of knew; and b) his adoptive parents are not that great of parents if they didn’t get him into therapy when they adopted him. That type of situation just doesn’t adjust well.
Kody: And this, this is where I just want to hit something… So Grey was abused as a kid? Okay, I’ll buy that, it happens. So whatever therapy he did or did not have didn’t help him cope with that abuse? Okay, let’s just go with it. Some people are very psychologically damaged by past events, so we’ll just keep going. But this…. According to this book, BDSM is the outlet by which he abuses women to gain his revenge against his dead mother; AND this book claims that this is the way BDSM is supposed to work, and that BDSM is a deviant behaviour caused by mental illness… Fuck you, ELJ.
[Side notes: Please, no one try to defend this book by accusing me of making up examples. Read the whole thing, don’t just skim to the sex scenes, before you try to defend it. Grey literally says that Ana and his other subs remind him of his “crack-whore mother,” and that’s why he likes to inflict pain on them and fuck them into submission.
None of the 50shades books should be considered accurate portrayals of BDSM. If this was your first introduction to BDSM, put the book down and Google “Safe Sane and Consensual” and “Risk-aware Consensual Kink.”
BDSM isn’t deviant behaviour, it’s just different. And trying to correlate BDSM to mental illness is like trying to correlate people who like peanut butter to people who have blue eyes.]
Bug: I KNOW RIGHT? Maybe, just maybe, I like my booty being smacked or my hair being pulled during sex because the sensation adds to everything else I’m feeling. That’s just gravy, even though it’s apparently not vanilla.
Kody: AND THEN THIS: His nightmares about his childhood abuse only come back to haunt him after his new toy Ana leaves him because she can’t handle that type of relationship.
So again, fuck you ELJ, whether you own it or not, what you are saying is that his distress at his childhood abuse is Ana’s fault, and it is her responsibility to fix him. Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you.
[Another side trip: I know that we bash on ELJ a lot, and some people might have problems with that. If you have problems with our habit of doing that, feel free, but keep these things in mind: I’m not insulting Ericka the person, I’m insulting EL James, the author (term used loosely). I make this distinction because I don’t believe that having written these books defines her entire being. At least, I’d like to think that there is more to her life and personality than what is in these pages. I also feel that people shouldn’t be wholly defined by their jobs. That being said, people certainly should be held accountable for what they do while at their jobs. There is also the issue that these books are concurrently billed as: 1) just “harmless” fiction, 2) a how-to for BDSM beginners 3) a romance that has no elements of domestic abuse 4) a way to revive/save marriages. Now, “3” just pisses me off, and if you attribute it with “2” (which is so, so very wrong) and “4,” you can’t then claim “3” on the premise of “1.” Either it is just fiction, or it’s more than just fiction. You can’t change your mind depending on how you want to sell it. Someone has to be held accountable for all of this.]
Bug: Exactly! That is exactly my primary hate reason for this series. ELJ didn’t do enough research to distinguish between BDSM and abuse, or to know that some people use the former as a cover for the latter.
Kody: So, prologue equals: re-telling that he was abused as a child. The fact that his new parents dropped the ball on therapy. And it’s Ana’s job to fix him, because his current meltdown is her fault, since she left him.
Bug: And even if now he’s having the nightmares because Ana left him, it suggests that he has those dreams whenever any sub ends it. So he’s still putting that blame outside himself. It’s the blue-eyed brunette’s fault that he can’t whip her anymore. Because the romantic hero can’t be un-perfect, can he?
Kody: Oh, oh, oh, and this…
Because the dream thing (and suddenly waking up from the dream)…. It’s done to death.
“Being abused does not lead to being an abuser, especially with proper therapy while the child is still young”
I take personal offense to the belief that being abused means growing up to be an abuser. I was molested when I was a kid, by two different teenage boys. I got therapy right away. Yet the idea that abuse means growing up to repeat the cycle without fail has resulted in me being scared to admit it sometimes.
As an author, she’s pretty terrible. I don’t think she through through what she was doing. She was writing as she went along, writing a fanfic, and when they were turned into books, they weren’t revised to be cohesive books with an actual plot aside from “girl fixes damaged guy with her love.” As a fanfic, the plot was skimmed to get to the sex between Bella and Edward. Readers of fan fics tend to take them as fluff. But publish them through a commercial publisher and they receive more weight and their contents are legitimized, if that makes sense, and so people take them seriously.
That she probably unintentionally wrote so much abuse and romantic, fan fic or not, and freaks out when it’s mentioned actually has me wondering if she’s not been abused herself and can’t see it. I have a friend right this second who is in an abusive relationship and doesn’t see it. I’ve been there too.
As a person she’s surprisingly kind. When I was freaking out in the ER last night she actually spend a good deal of time chatting with me trying to help me calm down. It’s really hard to completely dislike her.
So I wonder what her contract with her publisher stipulates, such as if she’s banned from saying certain things or must spout only positive things in a pre-approved way. Things just aren’t adding up here, not at all. I really think there’s more to all of this. The books definitely show abuse, but if she can’t see it, or sees it and thinks it’s okay, then, well, that’s the point I have a hard time believing anything other than she’s been in a similar situation herself.
I would love to sit down with her over a cup of two of coffee (we’re both coffee nuts) and have a calm, non-accusatory conversation about this. Since the movies are likely to be filmed at least partly locally (since my town is the setting for much of the first book), and she’s been very hand-on and traveling a lot for what’s gone on so far, there’s a good chance she’ll end up here again, and I hope to have the chance.
You make a good point, what she does/doesn’t say or acknowledge about the books could have to do with contractual obligations, but as we aren’t privy to that info we just don’t know. Or it could be self denial, but again we don’t know.
You also touched on something I talked about in the post: EL James the author and Ericka the person are not necessarily the same entity. I’m not going to make attacks on Ericka the person because I don’t know her. And by all accounts she could be a great person. I am familiar with author EL James through these books and what minor twitter interaction there was (i.e. getting blocked), so that’s where I let loose my angst.
I’m actually planning to read this over summer so that I can review it. I fully expect to end up slamming the book. I know you’re not supposed to go in biased when doing reviews, but I think I can make an exception for this one.
Best of luck keeping your sanity while reading this drivel.
I’d recommend you not to but I guess you’ve already decided to read it. Then I strongly advice to go with you guts and skip while reading anytime you feel like it. I had to skip more and more each time and then I decided to leave it unfinished as I was afraid of possible tumor.
The impression I got was that anything she couldn’t rip from Twilight she got from tv. Jen at http://jennytrout.wordpress.com/jenny-reads-50-shades-of-grey/
points out several places where EL James seemed to pull from movies when the books fail her. I figured she was watching Dexter while reading Twilight.
Yep! Bug and I have discussed correlations between 50shades and shows like Dexter, Nip/Tuck… And I love reading Jenny’s recaps!
James couldn’t replicate Edward’s childhood in any way that would make sense, so she had to come up with a new reason that he was all screwed up.
It would make sense if James was just not clever enough to research the subject and is just inserting pre-existing character reactions into a pre-existing mold. She’s replaced sociopathy and vampirism with sex, but she’s kept everyone’s responses to murder and blood drinking and tried to apply those to reactions to BDSM. Of course, she hasn’t quite grasped the concept of ‘I want to spank you,’ doesn’t rate quite the over the top reaction that ‘I want to kill you’ does.
This prologue segment in particular reads like she lifted Chedward’s childhood from Dexter. Little orphan boy found with his crack whore mother’s corpse a few days after her death. He gets elevated to a higher social standing than he could ever have hoped for through being adopted by the people who took him in after he was rescued. He develops deep seated psychological trauma expressed in a way that would horrify anyone who becomes aware of how fucked up he is.
Then if you look at Elizabeth, she stepped into the role of Harry– that is, as a mentor who realized he was broken and gave him training that would keep his sociopathy from being discovered. You can’t have the focus of an erotic novel being on blood since that doesn’t lend well to sexy times (unless you’re writing a vampire novel), so James tossed Dom in place of serial killer/vampire. Instead of a preferred victim of murderers, Chedward keeps attacking his mother through his subs. Instead of a serial killer, Elizabeth trained him into a serial abuser.
Now that everyone is upset about what she’s writing she wouldn’t be able to come out and admit that maybe she didn’t intentionally write it as abuse because she was just copying what she saw in front of her, and trying to make it fit. If she admitted that though then she would open herself to multiple plagiarism lawsuits from anyone who was able to prove she lifted scenes from their movies or shows, so it’s safer for her to say nothing at all. It’s a theory that I’m going with because this way I can assume she’s just a really shitty writer who didn’t do any research beyond flicking on her tv.
The alternative would be that she really didn’t steal the story from anywhere else and really doesn’t see anything wrong with what she wrote. That thought’s just disturbing on a whole other level. ~_~
Also, really appreciating the work you guys are putting into this. I have a friend who refuses to believe that 50 Shades is anything like Twilight. I can’t find the original fanfic anywhere, or even the side by side comparison pdf that I had saved somewhere. It’s like there s some sort of magic genie online that keeps stealing away the evidence of their connection. This will help me make my point, so thanks for that.