If you don’t know what 50 Shades of Grey is because you’ve been living under a rock or just got out of prison (although I’m pretty sure they’d have that book in prison) then let me be the one to tell you that you don’t want to know. But who am I to tell you what you do or do not want?
Unfortunately, for those who enjoy literature and the English language, 50 Shades of Grey is about a girl who goes for an interview or something with a man that is very rich for reasons nobody really cares about and they have lots of sex. Of course, she was a virgin and had no friends or personality prior to meeting him, and none of that really changes besides having sex seven times a day, but apparently the fact that she enjoys his wild, violent, BDSM sex, and generally being submissive to him in every way convinces him she’s the best thing since anal beads and they end up getting married in the third book (Yes, there’s three of them). If there’s more to the book than that, then you’ve read too much of it. Also, the grammar is awful.
Reasons to why these ‘Mummy Porn/Mom Porn’ books are gaining immense popularity among middle-aged housewives to the extent that it has beaten Harry Potter in the fastest selling paperback of all time and sold over 30 million copies world wide remains to many a mystery.
I just want to point out that I was told in school by English teachers that ‘Shades of Grey’ was the most common, cliche and generally unimaginative title that every new or just bad writer uses for stories, on the basis that it can be used for pretty much any subject matter possible. I’ve been informed that ’50 Shades’ refers to the name the protagonist calls the guy she’s banging, but regardless I would say this was the first warning sign I received from this book.
The second was, as with many people, the sex. Not necessarily the content because, hey, to each their own. Am I bitter that a women wrote an entire book about handcuffs and bum-play and has sold and earned more in the last month than I probably will in my entire lifetime? Do I judge the people who praise these books? Definitely. But the first thing that struck me when I picked up this book scoffed at the title and skipped straight to the sex scenes was how badly they’re written. I honestly can’t understand how anyone could find this book erotic, not because of the sexual acts, but the inane and immature way in which they’re written. I immediately said my my girlfriend, ‘This is written just like fanfiction! What is this?’
And guess what kids, I was right. It is fanfiction! 50 Shades of Grey was originally a piece of Twilight fanfiction, with the names and places changed – So originally it was Edward and Bella having rough, kinky sex. And that’s what people are reading. That’s what people are paying money for, and that’s what this women ‘E L James’ is earning millions from.
And I don’t like to rant about it, but I read fanfiction. And fanfiction is shit. For the most part, about 80% of the time, it’s teenage girls, or middle-aged women – basically anyone not getting laid and getting thier frustration out on the internet by writing about attractive fictional (sometimes not fictional) characters getting it on. Yes there’s some fanfiction, maybe 25%* (* Note: these statistics aren’t scientific) of it, that isn’t sexual, but for the most part sex is pretty much part of the scenery. Fanfiction exists as it’s own genre of literature, and one it’s generic conventions, and audience expectations, is a good deal of sexual activity. Sometimes there’ll be stories literally consisting of so-and-so and so-and-so get together under certain circumstances and fuck. Others will be full stories, with entire plots and back stories with the occasional explicit sex scene every chapter or so. It’s what people like writing about, and like reading about, so why not? Speaking as someone who doesn’t read fanfiction for the sex (And no I don’t also ‘just read Jugs for the articles’) it becomes second nature to shift through the endless sex – which is always perfect and relentless and with mindblowing orgasms – to get to the plot because some fanfiction is genuinely good, regardless of whether you enjoy reading about sex or not. Some of them have amazing stories and are written by people clearly just looking to explore their creative talents and looking for some feedback. Some of these people do deserve to get published. E L James is not one of these writers (or at least not one that followed any of her feedback). Skip the sex, and there’s nothing there but bad grammar, boring characters, pointless plotlines and some creepy borderline-stalker behavior. Basically just like Twilight then.
barelypolitical has this great 50 Shades parody ’50 Shades of Mom Porn’ which more or less sums up my feelings on E L James’s* writing :
*(I refuse to call her ‘James’ as I feel it would dirty Henry James’s name somehow…)